This first post is actually two posts in one, it’s an explanation from both of us explaining our own “Small Acorn” from our own perspectives.
One Thing Leads To Another
Thinking about giving birth I remembered an article my spouse came across many years previous, explaining delayed cord clamping.
It’s common knowledge that no sooner is baby delivered the umbilical cord is cut, allowing hospital staff to carry out their ‘checks’ and mum to coo at her baby. Almost immediate cord cutting is routine procedure. Before we ask ourselves ‘why is this routine?’, let us look at the relevance of the placenta.
The placenta is an organ in its own right, it is the middle man between mother and baby. It passes oxygen and nutrients from mother to baby, and provides an outlet for waste products such as carbon dioxide into the mothers body for disposal. It produces hormones to help the baby grow and develop and it protects the baby against infection while in the womb. At the tail end of pregnancy it passes antibodies from mother to child which can give them protection for up to 3 months from anything the mother is immune to.
When a baby is delivered their blood is still passing between them and their placenta, I say ‘their placenta’ because it is theirs, not the mothers, the mother may have carried it for the duration of the pregnancy but it is the baby’s organ, their lifeline. It has provided the baby with everything it needed to survive throughout the pregnancy, and continues to provide oxygen after birth. After a relatively short period the umbilical cord will stop pulsating and ‘clamp’ of its own accord. The cord will not sever itself, this could take weeks, but it has ‘closed off’, no longer supporting the baby’s ability to live. It is at this point that cutting the cord is considered ‘delayed cord clamping’.
It is shown that when a pulsating umbilical cord is cut the baby’s heart rate drops. Not surprising when you consider it is still passing blood and oxygen back and forth. When you consider that a baby born in distress is often cut away from their placenta so they can be whisked off for treatment or to be helped with breathing difficulties, I find this process quite unorthodox.
Luckily someone has revaluated this scenario and invented a crash kart that can be bought bedside, allowing treatment to be administered while baby is supported by their placenta. Unfortunately they are not common place on hospitals as this is a relatively new thing to the NHS, but I feel it is a step in the right direction maybe.
So why are we so quick to detach our babies from their life support? What is to be gained from quick detachment and why is it ‘routine’? I have my own thoughts on the matter but it is for you to mull over what or who gains from this, mother and baby or medical staff? Is it done for medical reasons, or convenience?
Unbeknown to me, this was the one thing that would lead to so many others and what would be the start of what has turned out to be a very eye opening journey.
Set On Our Path
I think the Small Acorn that set us on our path, 3 years or so earlier, was this article. It had six pictures showing how the umbilical cord changed over the course of the first 15 minutes after birth and accompanied by research and information, was a revelation. Until that point, we had assumed that every hospital birth had the best interests of both the mother and the child in mind. We Were Wrong!
- It helps prevent postpartum haemorrhage, which extensive studies have proven to be incorrect (see article)
- That baby gains no benefit, plainly wrong as the article explains
- The one that stuck with us, and we had heard bandied around, was that it prevented neonatal jaundice (Now whilst there is a slightly increased risk, to our minds, the benefits far outweighed this. Jaundice in newborns usually resolves itself in the first two weeks, unless there are other conditions; where cord clamping would have made no difference either way)
- And the worst reason of all, because that’s what they always do!
That article, over the following years, had no real bearing upon our lives. Not until we started trying for a family of our own and we began realising that it was up to us to decide what was ideal for us. We realised that common, accepted ways of doing things weren’t always best, for both mother and child. That some were purely habit, some misguided, some just “conveyor belt mentality” of medical staff.