Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

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The idea that the umbilical cord should not be cut immediately after the birth but left to pulsate giving the baby extra blood, oxygen and stem cells is not a new idea to myself or many of my colleagues.  I have long believed that the baby should remain “attached” via the umbilical cord to his/her mother and my usual practice is to await “delivery” of the placenta before asking the mother or father to cut the umbilical cord.  I believe that early cord clamping interferes with the normal physiology of birth.

Recently Dr David Hutchon, a retired consultant obstetrician from Darlington, wrote in the British Medical Journal that maternity staff should wait for several minutes before cutting the cord and has also called for further research into leaving the cord intact.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) still advocates active management, which includes early clamping and cutting off the cord. These guidelines mean that doctors and midwives are sometimes reluctant to change their practice.  This is despite the fact that both the World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics advise doctors to refrain from early cord clamping.

In summary, it is definitely worth thinking about whether you would prefer your baby’s umbilical cord to be left to pulsate and indeed possibly left intact until you have delivered your placenta.

Midwife Gloria Lemay also comments on this issue on her website.

It has occurred to me that I haven’t written about the benefits of waterbirth.

I think the use of water in a labour and birth can be hugely beneficial; I’ll start with my own personal experience/feelings about waterbirth.  When my youngest child was born, more than twenty years ago now, waterbirths were just being talked about in the press.  I remember my husband asking me whether I wanted to consider a waterbirth and I have to say that I wasn’t interested, but then I’d already had three babies and I knew that I could cope with labour.

As a midwife, I would say that my opinion of waterbirth is only positive.  I recognise that not all women will want or need a waterbirth, but I would strongly recommend all women not to rule the use of water out.  It may be that you use water by having a bath or shower in labour; it can be hugely comforting to have shower water jetting onto your tummy or back whilst in labour.

As I see it, if we are achy or tense a bath is usually helpful.  It works in just the same way in labour; water is usually relaxing.  Another benefit is that women are much more mobile in labour and have their weight supported by the water making it easier to move around.  Lastly (dare I say it) if you are in a birthpool no one can interfere with you!  You are in your own space and are much more in control of what happens.

Most hospitals now have at least one birthing pool and if it is something that appeals to you I suggest you discuss it with your midwife and let the labour ward midwife know as soon as you arrive at the hospital.

For homebirths there is a considerable choice of birthpools available, for example rigid “bath” type pools that come with and without water heaters and inflatable pools.

I think the main benefit of the rigid pool with a heater is that you can put it up in advance of the birth and treat yourself to a relaxing “wallow” in the days leading up to the birth and also not have the stress of putting up the pool once labour starts.  The negative to these pools is that because they have a water filter you will need to put chemicals into the water to keep it clean.

The inflatable pools are very good, they are also usually cheaper than hiring a rigid pool.  The pool will be brand new (although both types have a disposable liner to ensure hygiene) and can be used again, or used as a giant paddling pool or ball pool for your children.  The soft sides of the pool are also very comfortable to lean against.

Here are a selection of companies who either hire or sell waterbirth pools: – quote Valerie Gommon – quote Indy Mid discount