The transition from fetal to newborn life involves a complex series of physiological events that commences with lung aeration, which is thought to involve 3 mechanisms. Two mechanisms occur during labour, Na+ reabsorption and fetal postural changes, and one occurs after birth due to pressure gradients generated by inspiration. However, only one of these mechanisms, fetal postural changes, involves the loss of liquid from the respiratory system. Both other mechanisms involve liquid being reabsorbed from the airways into lung tissue. While this stimulates an increase in pulmonary blood flow (PBF), in large quantities this liquid can adversely affect postnatal respiratory function. The increase in PBF (i) facilitates the onset of pulmonary gas exchange and (ii) allows pulmonary venous return to take over the role of providing preload for the left ventricle, a role played by umbilical venous return during fetal life. Thus, aerating the lung and increasing PBF before umbilical cord clamping (known as physiological based cord clamping), can avoid the loss of preload and reduction in cardiac output that normally accompanies immediate cord clamping.
- Cardiorespiratory transition
- Lung aeration
- Preterm birth
- Transient tachypnea of the newborn
- Umbilical cord clamping