The first medical intervention in everyone’s life is clamping the cord, and it’s doing immense harm. Babies who would have survived are dying. People are suffering permanent damage, including brain damage, as a result. Please, join the campaign to end this travesty!
by Heidi Stevenson
The single most harmful intervention of modern medicine is also the most common, because it’s done to virtually every person born in a hospital, and most born outside it. It deprives us of critical oxygen, iron, and stem cells required for the first burst of independent life. The intervention is assuredly resulting in both higher infant mortality, lower intelligence, and greater debility. The intervention is umbilical cord clamping.
First do no harm? In fact, the first thing done to us all is harmful! Doctors—and many midwives—cannot clamp the cord fast enough. They act as if the baby will lose blood through it. Instead, they are depriving newborns of one-third of their total supply! That blood is not waste material. It belongs to the baby.
Imagine how you’d feel if you were to lose one-third of your blood. Every mammal on earth waits until the cord stops pulsing before cutting it—except humans, whose medical doctors, with hubris that knows no bounds, presume to know better than nature.
Iron deficiency anemia is a serious problem in newborns. By not waiting until the cord blood has moved—literally pulsed—into the baby’s body, iron deficiency in newborns would become almost nonexistent.
One of the greatest causes of neonatal death is inadequate oxygen in their tissues. By clamping the cord early, one-third of their blood oxygen is lost.
Red Blood Cells
What carries that oxygen? Red blood cells! Consider that Lance Armstrong gave himself an enormous edge by self-infusing with his own stored red blood cells. The ability to carry oxygen is severely depleted by early cord clamping.
White Blood Cells and Antibodies
About a third of newborn deaths are from infections. That shouldn’t surprise us, since about a third of their white blood cells and antibodies are taken from them with early cord clamping.
Cord blood is packed with stem cells. Every person, thoughout history—until the last hundred years—automatically received an autologous stem cell transplant. Now, that birthright is stolen by the presumption of doctors to clamp the cord as fast as possible.
A newborn’s ability to survive is largely predicated on its reserves. All those babies—indeed, each and every one of us—is forced to recover from a massive loss of the richest blood they will ever have. Not only is our birthright stolen from us, but we’re forced into healing mode the moment we’re born.
That difference—the unwillingness of modern medicine to wait 90 seconds for the cord to stop pulsing—is doing immense harm.
TICC TOCC Campaign
Dr. Alan Greene is a crusader, out to stop the cord clamping travesty. He says it’s simple, just a shared idea. So pass it on! Dr. Greene calls it the TICC TOCC Campaign: Transitioning Immediate Cord Clamping to Optimal Cord Clamping Campaign.
Here’s a video of Dr. Greene speaking about the issue of early cord clamping at a TED Talk:
Benefits of Waiting
Most studies on cord clamping have been done on premature births. They have demonstrated major benefits in delaying cord clamping, though most of the studies limit that delay to only 30 seconds, instead of waiting the 90 seconds that it usually takes for the cord to stop pulsing.
In premature infants, the most dramatic benefits are:
- Decrease in requirement for blood transfusions
- Decrease in the rate of intraventricular hemorrhages, a devastating bursting of blood vessels in the brain so that blood invades the cerebrospinal fluid.
Dr. Green says that the risk of iron deficiency is reduced, anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) is reduced, and there are lower levels of cerebral palsy. Iron deficiency, even when it isn’t enough to be classified as anemia in a newborn, has been linked to lasting brain damage. He suggests that the benefits of the cord’s pluripotent stem cells, the kind that can become any type of cell and can self-renew indefinitely, though not yet understood, may be the most significant of all.
Claims have been made the a condition called polycythemia, increased blood hemoglobin that is asspciated with neurological problems, is a result of waiting to clamp the cord. This seems to have been based on wishful thinking, a desire to find an excuse for a practice that’s done for no valid reason. Studies have shown that concern about polycythemia is nonsense.
A rat study in which 25% of the newborn pups’ blood was removed resulted in a finding of proinflammatory cytokines in the lungs and liver at 3 hours of age. None were found in controls with no blood loss. Proinflammatory cytokines are markers for tissue damage. Proinflammatory cytokines are elevated at birth in babies with cerebral palsy. How many people live with cerebral palsy simply because a doctor couldn’t bother waiting 90 seconds before clamping the cord?
Join the TICC TOCC Campaign!
Everyone should get involved with the TICC TOCC Campaign. It costs nothing. You don’t even need to join an organization or sign up anywhere. Just pass the information about the benefits of waiting to clamp the umbilical cord unless there’s a pressing medical reason.
The truth is that we have no idea what the full benefits will be—but we do know that they exist and are significant. Be sure to tell pregnant women to insist that their doctors don’t cut the cord until it stops pulsing. Pass the word. That’s all you need to do.
We can create a meme so that this perverse medical practice that was started in 1913 can be ended during its hundredth anniversary next year.
A sharp reader pointed out an excellent site that focuses exclusively on delayed cord clamping. That, in fact is the site’s name: Delayed Cord Clamping. Many people are fearful of a cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. In reality, it appears that most of the harm done in these situations is actually a result of medical interventions and cutting the cord. Please read Cord around the neck – what parents & practitioners should know.
- Umbilical cord clamping and preterm infants: a randomised trial
- Dr. Green’s website
- Current Best Evidence: A Review of the Literature on Umbilical Cord Clamping
- Natural childbirth: Benefits of lotus birth vs. delayed cord clamping (ecochildsplay.com)
- Cutting cord early ‘risk to babies’ (bbc.co.uk)