While your birth plan is a handy guide for your health professionals to follow and to hopefully give you the birth experience you want, you can also use it to make an amazing choice for your baby’s future health – saving their stem cells in their cord blood.
Why should I choose cord blood banking?
During pregnancy, your umbilical cord blood helps keep your baby healthy. The vein carries oxygen rich blood plus nutrients and antibodies that fight infection to your baby. And of course, it’s also packed with those amazing stem cells.
It Of course, the majority of the cord blood should go to your baby after they are delivered birth and you can choose delayed cord clamping. Once that has been done, your midwife or a specialist phlebotomist can collect any leftover blood. This liquid gold can help your child and other family members too later on.
Cord blood stem cells are a 100% DNA match to your little one and can also repair damaged cells in the body. They can also be used to treat over 85 conditions. Cord blood banking means that a small sample of this blood is collected, processed and stored at a cord blood bank should you need them for treatments in the future.
Your birth choices
Natural birth: pain-free, non-invasive and with little intervention, harvesting cord blood matches well with a “natural” birth plan. You’ll barely notice anything happening!
Caesarean: If you choose an elective Caesarean, collection simple because the date and time are already known, so the phlebotomist and courier have forward notice. It is also possible to collect if you have an emergency Caesarean.
Medicated birth – Pain relief does not affect collecting baby’s cord blood.
Multiple births – You can have each baby’s cord blood stem cells collected though you do need to discuss this with your consultant.
Where you give birth
Home birth – Working with your midwife, cord blood banks can arrange home birth collections with a specialist phlebotomist working in your home.
NHS hospital or private birthing units – Most private birth units welcome cord blood collection but do check with your facility.
Delayed or ‘optimal’ cord clamping
Delayed cord clamping is recommended as part of your birth, meaning that your health professionals will wait a few minutes after your baby has been born before cutting the cord, to allow nutrient-rich blood to keep pumping into your baby.
It’s totally fine to have delayed cord clamping and still be able to collect your baby’s cord blood; the phlebotomist will remove the remaining cord blood and as little as 15ml can be used to store stem cells.
More than 27,000 cord blood samples were stored in 2018 and the number keeps rising as this valuable option becomes better known and though at present, cord blood stem cells are used in 85 therapies, the number will rise as more trials are utilized to discover what other conditions can be treated with the use of stem cells.
Make sure you factor this into your birth plan from an early stage, to ensure all your team work together on your baby’s birth day.
Future Health Biobank works with over 100 NHS hospitals and private birthing units across the UK to collect stem cells at birth.