I gave birth to my youngest child in 2006. Since then, I’ve watched friends and family whose more recent birth experiences have been very different from mine. A decade makes a big difference in best practices in the delivery room, and in the choices that pregnant women face.
Among the top discussions I’ve heard recently: delayed cord clamping and stem cell banking. It’s a big topic for some of my friends—especially when they wonder if they have to choose between these potentially life or health-saving techniques over the other.
The good news? I’ve learned that many new mothers are choosing to do both. Here’s the story, as explained to me by the people at Americord.
Stem cell banking
Stem cell banking involves collecting blood from the umbilical cord, sometimes along with placenta tissue and tissue from the umbilical cord itself. These tissues—which were once considered medical waste—are now highly valuable because they contain potentially lifesaving stem cells.
For example, stem cells from cord blood are being used to treat over 80 diseases and disorders today, including leukemia. Even more exciting, as medical knowledge increases, the odds of other disorders also becoming treatable increases. Stem cells found in cord blood are a 100% genetic match to your baby and have a 50% chance of partially meeting a parent or sibling, which means others in your family could benefit. Of course, we all hope that we will never have to resort to anything like this—but knowing that you’ve banked and that this option exists brings peace of mind. It can be a wonderful insurance for you and your family.
Delayed cord banking
Delayed cord clamping, much like it sounds, involves clamping the umbilical cord after the placenta is delivered and has stopped pulsating—instead of cutting the cord after the baby (but before the placenta) has been delivered. Research has shown that this delay can help the newborn transition into breathing outside of the womb. Other benefits include improved transitional circulation and better establishment of red blood cell volume. It also helps keep the mother and child unit intact and can prevent complications while delivering the placenta.
So, two amazing birth technologies—things that I wasn’t even thinking about back in 2016. The question is whether you have to choose between the two, or whether it’s possible to do both? Can you both delay clamping and collect your child’s cord blood and tissue?
Yes, you can do both!
The good news is that the answer is yes—you can in fact do both of these wonderful things for your baby. Clamping can be done after the placenta has stopped pulsating, and the cord blood can be saved too, as long as it is done within one to three minutes after the placenta has been delivered. This means that you’re still able to collect the current industry requirement of 100 million cells for banking, while the mother and child additionally reap all the benefits of delayed clamping.
We all want what is best for our children. Even better, when you think you might have to choose between two good options, is to learn that you can actually do both.