Birthillogics #2 – cutting the oxygen line when it’s needed most…

sara_wickham_birthillogicsI am so glad that the fabulous people who are campaigning for delayed cord clamping seem to be having an impact, and I want to join in this debate today and ask why it is that, when a newborn baby needs some help, the first thing we do is to cut off their existing oxygen supply by clamping and cutting the cord?

I know that the rationale usually given for this when it occurs in hospitals is that the baby needs to be taken to the other side of the room to the specially designed trolley (or resuscitaire) that is used for resuscitation, but do they really?

Does the resuscitaire on the other side of the room really have any benefit that (a) outweighs the significant advantage conferred by the intact umbilical cord that will be pumping oxygen into and around the baby’s body while he is helped to begin normal breathing and that (b) truly cannot be replicated in a position on or next to the baby’s mother, who can perform a vital role during the resuscitation by providing aforementioned oxygen? Oh, and helping remove carbon dioxide as well as providing warmth and even more important but less measurable things like love, although I do acknowledge that mums aren’t quite as flat as resuscitaires, which for the other 99.99% of times that their baby needs them is a really good thing.

I truly cannot think of any other medical emergency situation in which the permanent severing of the one route by which a compromised person was successfully receiving oxygen would be seen as the right thing to do.

We are starting to see movement on this in some areas, as we discussed in Birthing Your Placenta, but we have some way to go before practice is grounded in common-sense thinking about issues like this.

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