The practice known as umbilical cord milking has started to reveal many benefits that can significantly improve the health of preterm babies or those delivered by C-section. By initiating healthy blood flow within the first seconds of birth, infant development can become normalized, leading to long-term benefits.
What Is Umbilical Cord Milking?
The process of umbilical cord milking involves a doctor holding the umbilical cord of a newborn child between the thumb and forefinger, squeezing gently, and gradually pushing the contents of the umbilical cord into the newborn’s abdomen.
The idea is that newborns, especially premature birth, need access to all of the additional blood flow they can get. By helping the child gain access to the last drops of his or her mother’s nutrients and hemoglobin, they stand a better chance over the next few hours and days.
When is It Used?
Premature infants born by cesarean delivery are treated with a process known as delayed cord clamping (DCC). This process means that the doctor waits until the pulsations through the umbilical cord have stopped before cutting, typically at least 1 minute after birth.
The benefits of this practice mostly involve improving the newborn’s blood volume. After extensive research, delayed cord clamping has proven to offer consistent results with no serious side effects.
Newer research points to the likelihood that umbilical cord milking provides improved benefits over direct/immediate cord clamping.
Specifically, in the case of premature babies born via cesarean delivery, the increase in blood pressure and blood flow are substantial.
This new practice shows promising results.
Note: If you are interested in making use of this process for your child, ask your doctor or midwife to find out if it would be available to you at birth. Your healthcare provider may be less willing to perform the umbilical cord milking if your baby is born at term and appears healthy; however, if you’re considering it, it is best to talk to your provider before you are in labor or head to your C-section!