Leeds midwife takes NHS baby birth campaign global

Amanda Burleigh.
Amanda Burleigh.
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A Leeds midwife who won a 10-year battle to change NHS baby birth guidelines is taking her campaign global after winning a major national accolade.

Amanda Burleigh, who works at the city’s hospitals, fought for doctors to delay the cutting of babies’ umbilical cords after birth.

The 53-year-old argued that cutting the cord immediately, as has been practice for decades, could deprive developing babies of vital oxygen and nutrient-rich blood from the placenta.

The campaign, which garnered support for change worldwide, has now seen her named Midwife of the Year 2015 by the British Journal of Midwifery.

Amanda now hopes to work with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as she bids for the delay of cord clamping to be recognised as best practice in England.

She said: “This award is validation for what we are doing with the cord clamping – people are taking it seriously now.”

She added: “It’s the icing on the cake for this 10-year battle and it’s not just in England where we’re fighting for this to become best practice.

We are working with nations across the world.”

After Amanda’s campaigning, new guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence was issued in November. The new cord clamping guidance, which excludes babies with a slow heartbeat who need immediate resuscitation, says the cord should not be cut for at least one minute after birth.

Amanda’s campaign petition to bring in ‘optimal cord clamping’ attracted 5,500 signatures from more than 40 countries and won support from the RCM.

She added: “I would like doctors to wait five minutes before the cord is clamped. It’s until nature has taken its course and done its job.”

The umbilical cord connects a baby to its mother from an opening the baby’s stomach to the placenta in the womb. The average cord, which is about 50cm long, carries blood rich in nutrients and oxygen into the baby’s bloodstream. Nutrient-rich blood from the mother passes to the baby through a single vein in the cord, while two arteries return deoxygenated blood and waste products back to the placenta.