Friday, 23 November 2012

Back to 1912

Last Saturday I was privileged to attend a 100th birthday party for a lady known to most as "Aunty Flo" (no, not Aunt Flo!). The guest of honour was widowed twenty years ago but her husband was recalled for herself and her daughter in the very intimate form of a sing-along made up of songs he would sing to her: You are my Sunshine, Hello Dolly and A Bicycle Built for Two, among others.
During the speeches we thought about the changes Aunty Flo has seen in her lifetime, the wars, technology, social changes, medical advances and on it goes. The day was sunny, the food was delightful and about 100 guests attended from far flung parts of Australia. It was a fitting tribute to a woman who worked long and hard and still has the respect of all she meets.

It was odd then to view this video and realise that Aunty Flo would have been one of the last babies  not to have her umbilical cord clamped the moment she was born. In this one way, the people of 100 years ago were more advanced than we are, just one year after Flo was born, in 1913 someone, in their great wisdom decided that cords need to be clamped quickly and ever since that time babies have risked neurological damage, complications of prematurity and intellectual retardation  because if the cord is not allowed to stop pulsating before clamping, baby can have between 30% and 50% of their blood left in the placenta, of no use to man or beast.
As a doula I think that if I had to choose a single issue to stress with a client it would be this one. As a concerned citizen, I ask you to watch the clip or at least ask your pregnant friends and family to consider "optimal cord clamping" also known as "delayed cord clamping"

Centenarians are often asked the secret to their long life and give all kinds of reasons but I bet they never imagined that for some, a less medicalised birth was their very first advantage in their lifes journey :)


  1. I'd hate to have my cord clamped.

  2. "her husband was recalled for herself and her daughter in the very intimate form of a sing-along made up of songs he would sing to her"

    I hoped they asked her in advance about doing that, because it sounds way too intense to unexpectedly force such memories on someone, or at least it would be way too intense if that someone was me.

    Glad to see this post spring up like it did because I've been away from the Internet and had wondered how you were.

  3. i have to tell you snow, she looked quite overwhelmed at the time but i know that each decision about the party was made in conjunction with her.

  4. Clamping is just the sort of thing you never think about because everyone sees it as routine common sense. Interesting that it can actually lead to serious complications.

  5. I was told that I was brought by a stork so I don't think there was any umbilicus to cut. I wonder what my granny would say about that, she was born in 1887 and lived until 1994

  6. My father lived to be 95 and fully expected to hit a century as we cricket mad Indians call it. Fate willed otherwise, but except for the last few months of his life, he lived a reasonably healthy and active life and that too entirely on his terms.

    There were no great big songs and dances about clamping, or cutting or tying of umbilical cords during his delivery and that generation did live much longer than the present one does.

    Is there a moral of the story there somewhere?


go on, leave a comment or four.