It’s a tricky business, leaving that watery world where oxygen comes through an umbilical cord and entering this dry world where we need lungs to stay alive. But all mammals do it. Surely the “hand-over” from placenta to lungs has been pretty well worked out over the eons.
It has been. When a baby is born, his oxygen source doesn’t change immediately. He lands outside his mother – limp, blue, still using his lifeline of the past nine months to supply him with oxygen. He’s limp because he’s had a pretty dramatic trip and is unaccustomed to gravity. And he’s blue because he’s been blue for 9 months, not because he needs to be resuscitated. A uterus is a low-oxygen environment, and he is well designed to live in it… blue.
Oddly enough, “delayed cord clamping” in modern terms means only 30 to 120 seconds! Why the rush? Hard to say.
Baby and placenta were engaged in a quiet, continuous conversation throughout pregnancy, with the umbilical cord as telephone line. It is thought that the baby signals the placenta when he is mature enough to be born, by circulating specific chemicals. “Failure to progress,” for instance, is not a failure at all; it is the uterus doing its very best to protect the baby until he is fully mature and the mother is in a place where she feels safe enough to give birth. “Failure to progress” is a triumph of Mother Nature over modern obstetric pressures.
Mother Nature has a tough time standing up to the pressure of clamps and scissors, though, and a prematurely severed cord is one of those mistakes that can’t be undone. Insist ahead of time – firmly and repeatedly – that the cord be left alone until all pulsing has stopped… or that you be provided with research-based evidence for doing otherwise. There doesn’t seem to be any!
©2010 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC www.normalfed.com