Mum-of-two, Jacinta has had delayed cord clamping after the births of both her girls, and believes that it really benefitted her second daughter Marli in particular, when she was born with the cord tight around her neck.
Here she shares her birth story …
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Dela, I knew a lot of natural birthing techniques wouldn’t be available to me. We live outside of Kargoorlie, a mining town in WA. Even though the hospital is big and well equipped, they don’t have the resources or training to deal with things like water births or home births.
I had read about the benefits of delayed cord clamping, and partly because I couldn’t have my water birth my OB was more than happy to accommodate.
What is delayed cord clamping?
Delayed cord clamping is where they wait for the umbilical cord to completely drain of blood before clamping and cutting it. It takes between 25 seconds and five minutes for the blood to drain out. Delaying has been shown to triple the baby’s iron sources by giving it more red blood cells. It also gives the baby more stem and immune cells.
“They say when you ask for an epi, you’re close. Unfortunately I wasn’t.”
Dela took a long time to be born. My waters broke at 11am, but contractions didn’t kick in until the next morning at 2am. I spent most of the night in the shower.
My mum and fiancé Adam were with me the whole time, and in preparation for labour, I had told them under no circumstances should they let me ask for an epidural. My mum gave birth to me and my younger brother naturally, and I remember thinking, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’
It’s a good thing I established that rule because when I was six centimetres dilated, I was ready to ask for the epidural. My mum told the midwife to send the anaesthetist home.
They say when you ask for the epi, you’re close. Unfortunately I wasn’t. I was six or seven hours away, but I got through.
At around 8:30am, my OB came in to check on me and do a pelvic exam. I was 10 centimetres dilated and wanting to push, but they found Dela’s head was caught on my cervix. To get it unstuck, my OB waited for a contraction. She pushed the baby’s head up and moved my cervix out of the way.
After that it was fast. In two or three pushes, out she came. Had they known Dela’s head was caught, my labour probably wouldn’t have taken so long.
As planned, the doctor waited until the cord stopped pulsing before it was clamped off and cut. It didn’t take long, and after a labour, five minutes feels like five seconds.
“I was more confident in what my body could do”
With my second daughter Marli, I planned for a vaginal birth with no intervention. This time I knew what to expect and I was a lot more confident in what my body was capable of doing. Once again, my mum and Adam were there with me in the birthing room.
With Dela, my mum had the Midas touch. As much as I love Adam, everything he tried to do – massage my back, tell me to breathe – it wasn’t the same as my mum.
With my second labour though, Adam and my mum sat back and let me do what I needed to do.
I had no issues at all delivering Marli; it only took five hours from waters breaking to giving birth. I couldn’t go into the shower because every time I had a contraction, her heart rate dropped, and so they wanted constant monitoring. We later discovered she had the cord wrapped around her neck, so every time I contracted, the cord likely got a little bit tighter.
When she was born, I saw she was responsive, but she was blue and a bit floppy. I was so glad then for the delayed cord clamping. I knew she was fine, but if there had been anything wrong and we had cut it early, I would have been worried about her not getting enough blood or oxygen.
A message to all mums
To any mums reading this, I think it’s so important to stand up for what you think is best. If you want to do a water birth, of course it’s up to your OB to give the OK, but provided the hospital is equipped, there’s no reason why they should say no.
With delayed cord clamping, it’s not impeding anything else. If a mum thinks it’s the best thing for her child, she shouldn’t let anyone’s opinion sway it. If you’ve got a gut feeling and you know it’ll benefit your child, it’s better to trust your own instinct. It’s your decision.