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Bloodtobaby's response to the Mirror article!

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

ARTICLE: Panic-Stricken dad in just his boxers saves wife and baby’s life using shoelace - Adam Aspinall 5th November 2019

This article is not an attack on the family who rightly did everything they could in what must have been the most frightening situation. As healthcare professionals wanting the best for families we are so happy the outcome of this story was positive. Commenting has now been turned off to prevent any further upset to the family.

  1. The purpose of this article is to question the Daily Mirror for their senseless reporting, of incoherent storytelling, pulling mismatched pieces of information together, not fact checking their statements and inaccurate reporting on the evidence for delayed cord clamping. The aim to minimise other families from being affected by this poor reporting.

I am a registered midwife and expert on optimal cord clamping. I run the website and campaign I regularly present at conferences and study days around the vital issue of delayed and optimal cord clamping at birth.

I am writing to complain about the inaccurate and dangerous information shared in the above article. Particularly this sentence:

"Guidance around cord-cutting is varied, but it has long been believed delaying cutting the cord can increase birth complications, especially if there is risk of infection”

This statement is completely incorrect and particularly damaging to babies short and long term health AND the ongoing work to integrate good practice of routine delayed and optimal cord clamping in all birth settings. 

The article shares dangerous and out of date advice to tie or clamp a baby’s umbilical cord at birth. This is not recommended practice. I am unsure as to why this family were given such shocking advice. This supports the need for continued efforts to educate all allied health professionals and call based responders about the importance of delayed cord clamping.

The article itself is an incoherent account, and you should consider how your lack of accurate sources may impact on your liability for misrepresenting the obstetric team supporting the family! It is not reasonable for a woman with a suspected placental infection to have been sent home to await a scheduled C-section at 38 weeks! This would be completely negligent and dangerous to the health and wellbeing of mother and baby. In this situation urgent care and attention would be needed, including antibiotics and close surveillance. 

The article suggests the father saved the life of his wife and baby by tying the umbilical cord with a shoelace, why does your reporter Adam Aspinall think this practice would save their lives? In fact, if this part of the story is correct, the call responders advice could potentially have caused long term damage to the baby, especially if the baby had been born in poor condition, which by the sound of the antenatal history you reported, there was potential for this to be the case. 

Babies who have early cord clamping miss out on increased iron stores, oxygenated blood volume and millions of stem cells to help fight infection and build a healthy immune system. It is imperative that they receive this blood.

As reported, I am in no doubt that the doctors and midwives at the hospital did pat the father on the back to say well done, as he managed an out of hospital birth in the best way he could, given the advice he was provided. But the article suggests this is because he tied the umbilical cord!! Again damaging the efforts to ensure the practice of delayed cord clamping happens in all birth settings. 

  • Since 2014 the United Kingdom NICE guidelines state that the umbilical cord should not be clamped earlier than 1-5 minutes. Resources provided on the BloodtoBaby website to educate women and midwives are endorsed by NICE (2016). This is echoed in the World Health Organisation guidelines and guidelines of many other professional bodies across the globe. 

  • Further to this, in fact, more up to date evidence from Andersson et al (2019) states that leaving the umbilical cord attached (not tied or clamped) helps the newborn to transition to extra-uterine life (as the baby receives its blood from the placenta, which perfuses the lungs and brain and helps to initiate breathing) supporting cardiorespiratory transition and stable blood pressure. This is especially important in compromised or premature babies.

  • A systematic review by Foggerty et al. (2018) shows a huge 30% reduction in premature neonatal morbidity and mortality when cord clamping is delayed. 

  • In addition Mercer et al (2018) have demonstrated that waiting over 5 minutes is beneficial as it increases baby’s iron stores, which aids brain neuron myelination and long term neurodevelopment. 

  • Regarding infection, mothers with blood borne virus’s such as HIV and Hepatitis are recommended to have delayed cord clamping because proven benefits of a 1–3 minute delay, at least, in clamping the cord outweigh the theoretical, and unproven, harms (WHO, 2012)

I would like you to make a formal public apology for the dreadful and inaccurate statements made in this article about the guidelines around delayed cord clamping. 

If you would like me to write an article about this subject to properly educate your readers I would be more than happy to do so.


Please use the free resources on this website to educate and the hashtag #bloodtobaby to educate and raise awareness on social media.

Please use Amanda Burleigh's #waitforwhite and #NoMoreShoeLaces hashtag to help raise awareness and campaign for better education for all professionals around out of hospital births.

Follow me @bloodtobaby

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