“After 10 years, midwife Amanda Burleigh has finally succeeded in her fight to change the guidelines for cutting off the umbilical cord after birth.
Since the 1950s, the standard for cutting the umbilical cord required that it be cut within seconds of the baby’s birth. This has been considered best practice as it is meant to reduce the risk of the hormonal injection—given to the mother to stop hemorrhaging—from reaching the baby’s blood stream and causing health issues. However, since the drug has been replaced with a safer alternative, Burleigh has questioned whether or not this practice should remain in place.
Over the past decade, the midwife has sought to change this method, insisting that the baby be kept attached to its mother longer. She followed her hunch, that the umbilical cord should not be cut while it is still pulsating with blood, with medical research that provided solid evidence that she was right.
Burleigh’s original thought was that cutting the cord too soon deprived the newborns of vital blood cells from the placenta. With the help of a group of fellow medical experts, evidence was found that the standard practice for cutting the cord could deprive a baby of one third of its blood stock. It was also linked to an increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia, which can lead to cognitive learning delays.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has officially changed the guidelines for cutting umbilical cords to now state that doctors and midwives should not routinely cut the cord “earlier than one minute from the birth of the baby.” It also suggests that the wait last anywhere from one to five minutes, or longer per the mother’s request.
Burleigh, who was recently named Midwife of the Year by the British Journal Of Midwifery, believes this is best for newborns.
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