Why Do We Use Plastic Cord Clamps?

Probably the most popular selling umbilical cord clamping product we carry is the plastic cord clamp. It is also the bulkiest and least environmentally-sound choice available. We decided to look at why many midwives and hospital birth wards favor the plastic cord clamp, and what alternatives are available that are just as effective without causing discomfort for newborns.

According to a 2004 article posted in NeoReviews: an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, plastic cord clamps were designed to offer a secure, reliable constriction to ensure no bleeding occurred from the umbilical cord after it was cut. The traditional method prior to plastic cord clamps was cotton umbilical tape, but concerns developed regarding the possibility of babies hemorrhaging if the tape was not tied tightly enough.

Convenience was another factor. According to the authors of Management of the Umbilical Cord: Care Regimens, Colonization, Infection, and Separation, JoDee M. Anderson, MD and Alistair G.S. Philip, MD: "The first method [of umbilical cord ligation] was to use constricting bands, which were effective, but somewhat difficult to apply...the more usual method in developed countries currently is plastic or metal clamps, which produce safe, reliable constriction"1.

            

For those who are interested in an effective alternative, options are available that are economical and more environmentally-friendly than plastic cord clamps. Cord rings, also referred to as cord bands mentioned above, are an effective way to discreetly secure the umbilical cord without excess bulk or materials to irritate the newborn. Popular among midwives, cord rings are relatively easy to apply and the procedure only requires a pair of hemostatic forceps. For those who have difficulty applying cord rings manually, another alternative is the Cord Bander - a reusable device specially designed to apply cord bands. Cord Banders allow you to clamp a cord and place a latex band on the stump with ease.

In both instances, the cord rings and cord bands shrink along with the umbilical cord, so there is no need for removal. Cord banders are made of sterilizable metal, making them reusable. Both options also eliminate the need and cost of cord clamp clippers. Metal clamp clippers can be reused, but plastic clippers are still popular amongst midwives wanting to give parents a plastic clipper to cut their baby's clamp or hospitals following regulations mandating a new clipper for each baby's cord clamp. Cord rings and bands are a simple way to reduce the excess waste cost of disposing of plastic cord clamp clippers and used cord clamps.

Even though concerns have been raised about not tying umbilical tape tightly enough, it is still a popular option for those looking for a biodegradable, lightweight solution to cord clamping. Umbilical tape is a braided cloth that comes in 100% cotton as well as a polyester-cotton blend. For those wanting to take extra precautions to ensure the tape it effectively tied, tying it in two different locations on the cord will provide additional ligation.

So although plastic cord clamps have proven reliable at securing umbilical cords, there are effective alternatives for those looking for a less invasive, lightweight option that is also more economical. Choosing the cord care option that works best for you and the needs of the families you work with is of optimal importance. Equally as important is knowing what options are available to you.

If you enjoyed this post, the topics covered in the following blog posts may also be of interest to you: 'How to Choose Sutures', 'Measuring Up Infant Scales', and 'Entering the New Age of Midwifery'. Click the post title to view the full article, or scroll through our complete archive of posts by clicking here.

Written By: Samantha Darling for Cascade HealthCare Products

 

Resources

Cord Care, Cascade HealthCare Products: www.1cascade.com/umbilical-cord-care-products

1JoDee M. Anderson, MD and Alistair G.S. Philip, MD. 'Management of the Umbilical Cord: Care Regimens, Colonization, Infection, and Separation', 2004, NeoReviews

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