Babies not breathing right after birth is one of the scariest scenarios in the delivery room for the mothers and the medical staff. The typical response is to immediately cut the babies’ umbilical cord and bring them to another area to be resuscitated.
At present, Australian doctors are exploring whether a mother’s natural supply of oxygen and nutrients will improve the outcomes of these babies. Just like in the case of Baby Darcy who wasn’t breathing for a full minute and 40 seconds after birth. But instead of rushing him away to have him resuscitated, the doctors calmly laid him down on the operating table near his mother’s legs, wiped the blood of his little body and started monitoring his oxygen and blood flow.
While Baby Darcy is still attached to his mother’s umbilical cord, the medical team started resuscitating him, and then to the relief and joy of everyone in the room, the baby took his first breath, and the cries soon followed.
Baby Darcy happens to be one in ten babies who don’t breathe spontaneously after birth.
The Australian doctors hope that if babies stay attached to their mothers’ umbilical cord in the minutes after birth, babies will remain more stable in their first few moments of life. They’re looking at the potential of such an approach saving more lives.
Baby Darcy makes for a great example. At 15 months old now, he is healthy and thriving. One of the researchers of the study, Dr. Dough Blank explained what they did and what could have made it all work out in the end. He said:
“Even though he wasn’t breathing, his heart rate remained stable throughout the time we were helping him breathe. We think this connection can still be used as a very valuable resource in the minutes after delivery.”
Dr. Blank also explains the importance of the placenta as the baby’s “third lung.” He said: “Until the baby’s lungs are functioning properly, we’re going to continue to rely on the support of the mother via the placenta and the umbilical cord so that the baby stays stable.”
Researchers at the Royal Women’s Hospital and Monash University are exploring whether delayed cord clamping will help newborns who don’t start breathing right they come out of their mothers’ wombs to get the more vital oxygen to the brain and improve blood flow, that hopefully will result to better outcomes and lesser injuries.
The study plans to look at 1,000 babies over two years, testing whether babies will have improved outcomes if the cutting of the cord is delayed by up to five minutes.
It is also a method that is recommended by the World Health Organization. They organization support at least one minute delay. WHO also says that delayed cord clamping allows blood flow between the placenta and baby to continue, which can also improve a baby’s iron levels for up to six months after birth.