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Your Body: When to cut the umbilical cord

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

The umbilical cord is the physical link between a mother and her child. It allows oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to flow between the fetus and placenta. But is there a benefit to waiting a full minute after birth before making the cut?

Recommendations from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggest that delayed clamping may have a favorable effect on the baby’s development. It’s thought that by waiting 30-60 seconds before clamping, vital nutrients from the placenta, including iron, can be passed onto the baby.  

As an OB/GYN who’s delivered over 1,500 babies, I can tell you there are times when every second matters -- like when the cord is tightly wrapped around the baby’s neck and needs to be immediately cut. There are also times when there is definitely 60 seconds to spare.

If you’re pregnant, discuss the timing of cord clamping with your obstetrician or midwife.

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