Cutting the umbilical cord too soon can result in stem cell, hemoglobin, oxygen deprivation, lung and brain damage in newborn puppies.
UMBILICAL CORD NEWS!
by Barbara J. Andrews, Publisher / December 2010
Most breeders hasten to cut and tie the umbilical cord an inch or two from the belly but here's why you should let the dam chew the cord as nature intended.
If the puppy is delivered but barely and the dam is scooting, sooth her and/or hold her still while you watch for the next contraction, then grasp the umbilical cord with a paper towel for non-slip holding and gently pull with steady pressure. The placenta usually pops right out but if it doesn’t, wait and repeat with the next contraction.
Note: if she has several contractions but no placenta, stop trying to work the umbilical cord out, it could be tangled around a puppy. Just keep count of placentas and be patient. If she continues to have non-productive but hard contractions, call your vet.
I attend every birth but I don't interfere unless it is really necessary. What you're going to learn about the umbilical cord and whelping puppies probably contradicts what you've been taught and what most vets still do but what does the dam do? She licks the newborn. Lick, lick, lick. It stimulates the puppy. If you leave her alone, she gets the puppy going quite nicely.
I hear someone saying you have to “sling” a puppy that can’t breathe. Correct. I watch to see that every whelp gasps, takes in that first big breath and colors up. If a newborn is blue-grey, limp, not moving; grab him and the placenta using paper towels to maintain a firm grip on the slippery puppy. Stand up. Cradle him on his back in both hands. Raise your hands over your head and sling the puppy forcefully downwards between your knees. You may have to repeat if he’s seriously oxygen-deprived. The centrifugal force clears the lungs and probably scares the hell out of a newborn, causing him to reflex-gasp. Whatever, it works. If not, press gently depress the rib cage while puffing into his mouth and nostrils. When he's breathing and his muzzle is turning pink, give him back to mom.
Okay, back to a normal delivery. The dam is cleaning the puppy, rolling him to and fro and if she’s really good at this, she’ll begin to nudge him closer to her warm udders. Note I didn’t say squat about she’s gnawing the umbilical cord. Her first job is to rip the sack away from the head. Then she licks and stimulates the puppy. That gets him going. He gasps, inflates his lungs.
If you didn’t interfere (vets clamp the umbilical, put the pup on a towel and let him drag the forceps around!!), it probably took her several minutes to get around to chewing the umbilical cord. Read that again! SHE was in NO HURRY to cut the cord. Instinctively, she does first things first.
She licked him vigorously to stimulate blood circulation through the still-attached umbilical cord which is delivering, among many things, oxygen, stem cells, and the final blood transfer from her body to his. Now that he’s out there on his own, he needs the vital hemoglobin and it takes a minute or two for everything to drain from the placenta. Have you ever noticed how she pulls the placenta higher than the pup as she chews through the umbilical cord? Gravity helps drain the good stuff into the newborn pup. Finally and lastly, she shreds the lifeline through which he breathed and ate for 60 to 65 days.
If we interfere, she sighs in resignation and goes on cleaning her newest treasure. If you stay out of her way, she’ll leave the umbilical cord until she’s satisfied the pup is wiggling and breathing. Don’t panic if he drags the sack as he struggles to the udder. Remember what the vets do… If she's tired, inexperienced, or scooting too much and it becomes necessary to cut the cord after 3 to 5 minutes, do not use sharp scissors. Perhaps you noticed that her teeth grind and shred the umbilical cord. I've used the same dull rusty scissors for 49 years.
Note that a good midwife did exactly what a good bitch does. She cleaned the newborn’s face, made sure he was breathing, turning baby-pink, then she swaddled (wrapped) him, umbilical cord and all, and handed him to his anxious mother. Today she might lay the newborn him on his mother’s belly and cut the umbilical cord. Before scissors, humans used their teeth. In fact, many cultures do not remove the umbilical cord at all. It simply shrivels and drops off in a few days.
As a side note, a century ago most doctors were men, experienced only in livestock births wherein the umbilical cord breaks off when calves and foals hit the ground or the mom stands up... As obstetrics evolved, it's unfortunate that medical schools failed to hire a good mid-wife to teach guys when to cut the umbilical cord. There's still debate; many doctors believe the cord should not be cut until it stops pulsing (up to 5 minutes) but illogically, they clamp the umbilical which stops that vital transfer. Others still cut the umbilical cord within the first minute. We must wonder if the latter practice explains the ever-rising rate of brain-nervous-system problems including autism?
Okay, here’s the science that you just figured out you knew all along. When your protégé calls for whelping advice, be sure you tell them about the umbilical cord. Or better yet, send them this link before he or she calls you at 2 A.M.
"Many clinical studies have revealed that the delayed cord clamping elevates blood volume and hemoglobin and prevents anemia in infants. Moreover, since it was known that umbilical cord blood contains various valuable stem cells such as hematopoietic stem cells, endothelial cell precursors, mesenchymal progenitors and multipotent/pluripotent lineage stem cells, the merit of delayed cord clamping has been magnified." March 2010 Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
When a baby is born it must transfer from receiving oxygen from the placenta to receiving oxygen from its lungs. For this to happen, the baby's lungs must first expand, and the burst of blood from the umbilical cord helps to get the newborn's lungs to expand properly. Without the burst of blood from the placenta, the infant suffers a drop in blood pressure as its lungs fail to open as they should, creating a chain reaction of effects that can include brain damage and lung damage. Immediate cord clamping can cause hypotension, hypovolemia (decreased blood volume) and infant anemia, resulting in cognitive deficits. October 2010 Dr. Mercola', Natural Health Center
"The optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord for all infants regardless of gestational age or fetal weight is when the circulation in the cord has ceased, and the cord is flat and pulseless (approximately 3 minutes or more after birth)." The World Health Organization (WHO)
Dr. David Hutchon, a consultant obstetrician, writing in the British Medical Journal says “cords are now also clamped early to collect cord blood and cord stem cells to be used for various medical and commercial purposes. But the evidence is clearly emerging that the most beneficial use for cord blood may be to allow it to transfer to the baby immediately at birth.
While most full-term babies have enough blood to establish lung function and prevent brain damage from early clamping, the process often leaves them pale and weak. For premature babies, the process can be even more devastating. And no matter what, immediate cord clamping will cause some degree of asphyxia and loss of blood volume because it contributes to...”
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