Not everyone knows this, but there are lots of decisions for parents to make immediately following the birth of their child and since this time is so chaotic, these decisions must be thought about far before the actual event and should be discussed with your healthcare provider and written in your birth plan that you give to both your provider and the hospital staff.
I always encourage people to know their options and make informed decisions by researching these decisions.
One of those decisions is about the the umbilical cord. This cord connects the baby to the placenta and provides nourishment to the baby for the time spent in-utero. Conventionally, this cord is clamped and cut immediately following birth (usually within 1 minute) and isn’t given much thought.
Clamping cuts off the exchange of blood between the placenta (which is still in the mother) and the baby.
There are more options regarding what to do with that nutrient-rich cord blood besides the traditional medical model’s protocol.
1. Delay cord clamping. Delaying cord clamping for at least 2 minutes decreases risk of anemia in the baby due to more iron exchange from the mom to baby. This benefit has been seen to last for as long as 4 months (source).
2. Skip cord clamping and cutting altogether – a Lotus Birth. The baby remains attached to the placenta until the cord naturally separates from the navel, exactly as a cut cord does, occurring 3-10 days after birth. The mother wraps the placenta in a towel and puts it into a placenta bag and carries in with the baby until separation occurs (source).
3. Publicly or privately bank the baby’s cord blood. The blood in the cord is rich in stem cells, which can be stored and frozen for future use. This is useful for treating diseases that require stem cell transplants (aka bone marrow transplants), such as certain types of leukemia/lymphoma, aplastic anemia and severe immunodeficiency.
Two types of banks store cord blood:
Public Banks: Collect donated cord blood for anyone who needs it or for research purposes.
- There is usually no cost associated with this service.
- After birth, the cord blood is collected anonymously, marked and sent to a public bank to potentially save another life.
- You are not able to obtain this blood for the bank in the future in the event that you or a family member needs it.
Private Banks: Store cord blood for personal use by the family.
- There is a substantial fee for this service (thousands of dollars)
- People who have a family history of diseases that can be treated by stem cell transplants sometimes consider this option.
- Sometimes people choose to do this in the off chance they or a family member will need this one day.
Once I researched the options for the cord blood, the choice for our family was obvious – delay the cord clamping. I would really love to have the money to store the cord blood for the off chance that someone in our family would need it, but it’s really expensive for that chance. In my birth plan, I had it written that I wanted the cord to stop pulsating and then my midwife could clamp and cut it. I wanted Aiden to get as much nourishment out of it as possible.
I didn’t know about the public blood banks at the time of my labor and delivery, so that’s an option I would like to use next time I think.
Listen to the podcast episode!
Did you know there were options for the cord blood?
Which option did you do?