When to clamp the cord has been a controversy since I was a young mom. Research continues to show that delaying cord clamping benefits the baby. Waiting allows more umbilical cord blood volume transfer and can even help prevent anemia. Here's a recent study from South Florida's Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair.
I like to look at the results from the Cochrane Reviews as they review and summarize research all over the world: "This review of 11 trials showed no significant difference in postpartum haemorrhage rates when early and late cord clamping were compared. For neonatal outcomes it is important to weigh the growing evidence that delayed cord clamping confers improved iron status in infants up to six months after birth, with a possible additional risk of jaundice that requires phototherapy."
For some families, delaying cutting the cord has spiritual significance and is called Lotus Birth, first popularized by Jeannine Parvati Baker. According to Sarah Buckley, "Lotus birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut, so that the baby remains attached to his/her placenta until the cord naturally separates at the umbilicus...at 3 to 10 days after birth." Sarah writes about Lotus Birth in one of our most popular articles: "Ecstatic Birth," first published in Mothering Magazine in 2002.
Lotus Birth is a topic of frequent conversation on MDC. Here's the most recent thread.