How Is Cord Blood Collected?

collecting umbilical cord blood
How Will My Baby's Cord Blood Be Collected?

Cord blood is collected by a healthcare provider within a few minutes of the baby being born. If you haven't already, read our answer to what is cord blood banking? for an overview of the topic and why parents consider doing it. The following is a typical process for the collection of stem cells:

1. Once you decide which cord blood bank you wish to use, you will need to inform your pregnancy healthcare team of your decision. This is because one of the hospital's healthcare providers will need to agree to extract the stem cells. Not all hospitals offer this service and if they do, they may charge an additional fee for doing so. It is worth checking this before engaging a blood bank for their service.
2. The 'bank' will send you a cord blood collection kit with a unique identification number. Make sure you give this to your healthcare provider in time for delivery so that all advance arrangements can be made. The collection process does not interfere with delivery and it is possible to do it with both vaginal and cesarean deliveries.
3. Once you have delivered your baby but the placenta is still inside the womb, the umbilical cord is cut. The cord is then clamped and wiped with an antiseptic.
4. There are 2 methods for collection of the cord blood: the syringe method and the bag method. The bag method is the most popular because it involves fewer steps so there is less chance of making a mistake or causing contamination. Quite simply the umbilical cord is raised to cause the blood to flow from it and into the bag. The syringe method uses a needle to draw blood from the cord, much in the same way as a blood test is performed. Some companies combine the procedure by attaching a bag to the needle.

5. The needle or bag, whichever is used, should be pre-labeled with your baby's unique identification number. The sealed collection of blood is then placed back into the collection kit box and returned to the mother.
6. The whole process should take no more than 5 or 10 minutes. It is completely painless and has no risk to mother or child.
7. Phone your 'bank' to let them know your sample is ready and they will arrange a courier to collect your completed kit. Pickup and delivery to the bank laboratory should be completed within 36 to 48 hours.
8. Once the sample arrives at the bank, it is processed, tested and separated. Any cells that could be of future value are frozen at minus 180C (minus 356 F) and can be cryogenically stored for 25 years. You might find this useful to read as well: How much does cord blood banking cost?

Collection May Not Be Possible If:

• You go into premature labor. (It might be worth checking what are the signs of labor?)
• You are expecting twins or multiple births.
• You deliver via an emergency c-section delivery.
• The cord wraps around the baby's neck and results in labor induction and early delivery.
• You or the father has a transmissible infection.

• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

Related Questions
How do I know if I'm in labor? Useful tips for recognizing the early signs of true labor.
Is an epidural safe? Read about the pros and cons of childbirth pain relief drugs.
Paternity test after pregnancy. Testing who the father is, once the baby is born.
How many cesareans can you have? Is there a limit, what do the guidelines say?

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