Optimal Cord Clamping and Stem Cells – When to Cut the Cord?

Dr. Greene’s take on optimal cord clamping…

What if there were a simple, free, natural way to give your baby a bit better start on the first day of life:

  • Improving blood counts now
  • Reducing the chance of iron deficiency later
  • Improving oxygen levels in the brain
  • Reducing serious bacterial infections
  • Stabilizing blood sugar levels
  • Improving organ growth

A growing number of studies suggest that what medical literature calls “delayed” cord clamping (what I call optimal cord clamping) might do all of the above, and more. Throughout almost all of human history, in all parts of the world, and throughout the world of mammals, the umbilical cord remains connected both to the baby and the placenta at least until the cord stops pulsing (sometimes longer). Usually this is 90 seconds to 3 minutes or so.

The idea of rushing to clamp and cut the cord within 20 seconds is a recent idea, so that professionals can take charge of and examine the baby right away. It’s not clear this practice is beneficial for healthy, stable babies.

At the moment of birth, perhaps 2/3 of a term baby’s blood is in the baby; 1/3 remains in the cord and placenta. For premature babies, it might be only half.

Waiting the extra seconds for what I prefer to call “normal” or “optimal” cord clamping rather than “rushed” cord clamping, gives the baby an extra supply of iron – a supply that can last for 6 full months – perhaps enough to prevent iron deficiency throughout the entire first year. I believe babies were originally designed to get iron from their mothers, not from fortified processed foods like white rice cereal.

A Natural Stem Cell Transplant

The extra blood the baby gets by what I call “optimal” clamping isn’t just any blood – it’s once-in-a-lifetime, rich, umbilical cord blood, which is packed with an assortment of powerful stem cells. These stem cells are still migrating from the placenta into the baby at the birth moment.

Those who favor cord blood banking rush to clamp and cut the cord earlier, to capture the valuable stem cells so they can whisk these stem cells away to be preserved in cold storage. This is better than just throwing the stem cells away.

I prefer going with the age-old natural process of letting these potent stem cells plant themselves in the baby as a last gift at birth, to grow within and carry out the purposes for which they were designed. Cutting edge science is just beginning to appreciate and understand the true value of this gift.

Tolosa JN, Park DH, Eve DJ, Klasko SK, Borlongan CV, and Sanberg PR. “Mankind’s First Natural Stem Cell Transplant.” Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. Mar 2010, 14(3):488-495.

McDonald SJ, Middleton P. “Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD004074. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004074.pub2.

Published on: March 29, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

Thanks Dr Greene….I’m a midwife from Indonesia, and I’ve done Delayed umbilical cord clamping stating 4 years ago, until now. I’m happy with it.