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What Makes FWH Tick?

(Emma,one of FWH‘s summer interns,became interested in delayed cord clamping after a week interpreting for an American neonatologist. You can find her at the front desk or on the other end of a call to the appointment line!)

Three years ago, a few doctors split a bottle of wine to celebrate the opening of a new medical group: Ferguson Women’s Health (FWH). Now, FWH team members have delivered over 800 babies, and provided care to over 2500 women from all over the world. So: what gives FWH its staying power? What sets it apart from other Shanghai clinics?  


FWH team protocols are substantiated by the newest international clinical research. In this article, I’ll examine the thought process behind DCC, a common practice at FWH.

What is Delayed Cord Clamping (DCC)?

Right after birth, 1/3 of a baby's blood is still contained by the placenta. Using DCC, your doctor will not immediately clamp the umbilical cord, allowing blood in the placenta to flow to your baby. Just 1 minute of DCC provides your baby with 60% of this extra blood, though at FWH, doctors can wait up to 7 minutes to maximise your baby's blood volume.

What are some of DCC’s benefits?

(Out of these twins, Baby B (on right) did Delayed Cord Clamping, and Baby A (on left) did not. You can see that Baby on right has a much healthier colour.)

Because of the extra blood they receive, DCC babies have decreased chance of anemia, hemorrhage, and other blood-related complications. In premature babies, this is especially important - it reduces preterm mortality (death) rates by up to 30%.  Furthermore, DCC provides more stem cells and iron from the placenta, which benefit babies’ long-term neurological, cognitive, and immune-system development. Because DCC is so effective, FWH team refers to it as Optimal Cord Clamping.

If my baby needs resuscitation, can he still do DCC?

Depending on the situation, your OB may "milk" the umbilical cord - she will quickly squeeze cord blood into your baby’s body. FWH OBs will always try their utmost to do DCC or milking, but some situations may not permit it.

Does DCC have any associated risks?
So far, it has only been shown to have one associated risk: a slight increase in newborn jaundice. But this risk is not significant compared to DCC’s many benefits.

If DCC is so great, then why don’t more places do it?

First, it’s often more efficient to take care of newborns, especially if unwell, with the cord clamped. Second, DCC is a fairly recent innovation. Studies showing its benefits have only come out en masse in the past decade. A big proportion of hospitals in the U.S. and China just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

How recently did FWH implement DCC?

FWH team members have been using DCC regularly for over 5 years. Elsewhere, you may have to ask your OB before birth for it; at FWH, DCC is the default.

Where will my baby go during DCC?

FWH doctors often begin at least an hour of skin-to-skin contact (S2S) at the same time while waiting to clamp the cord - an uncommon practice in China. This is not only a special moment for mother and child, but critical to your baby’s welfare. Skin-to-skin helps stabilize your baby’s temperature, which in turn stabilizes his blood sugar levels. Furthermore, healthy bacteria on your skin will provide your baby’s immune system with its first “vaccine”.

“Evidence-based care” means more than just three words to FWH. Its staff takes pains to stay at the forefront of international medical research. They implement protocols based on whether they have been proven beneficial to patients, not whether they are quick, easy, or effortless. What’s good for you is all-important - in the consulting office, in the delivery room, and beyond, “we are here, because we care” - for you.

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