The Collection Process

Is cord blood collection possible for Caesarean and Home Birth?

Yes, the cord blood collection process is the same in both caesarean and home birth. The important thing is to discuss the process in advance with your midwife and birth partner. For caesarean birth, cord blood is collected after the delivery of placenta in the same way as a natural birth.

How is the umbilical cord blood collected?

The cord blood collection process is safe, easy and painless for both mother and baby. Our collection procedure does not interfere with the delivery or subsequent care for mother or baby. After the safe delivery of your child, your doctor or midwife cleans the umbilical cord (with the materials provided) and inserts the blood bag needle into the umbilical vein. The blood flows into the bag by gravity. The blood bag tubing is clamped, sealed and labeled to await courier collection. The whole process takes only a few minutes.

Is there any risk to my baby or the mother?

There is no risk to mother or child during the blood collection process of a normal uncomplicated birth. If there is a complication during delivery, the midwife and or consultant attending your birth may not perform the collection to ensure you and your baby’s health and well being.

When is the cord blood sample collected?

Cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord after the baby is born and after the cord has been cut and clamped. The doctor’s first concern is to mother and baby and once everything is ok here, then the doctor will take the blood.

Cord blood can only be collected from the umbilical cord and placenta for a short period following the birth, once the cord has been clamped and the placenta delivered. It has to be achieved before the clotting reactions make blood collection impossible.

Why is the maternal sample needed and what testing is performed?

Testing of the maternal sample is required by law. The diseases assessed for have been identified as being potentially hazardous in a transfusion/transplant setting. At present, these are HIV I and II, HTLV (Human T cell Lymphotrophic Virus), Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Will either my baby or I feel any discomfort during the collection?

At the time of collection, both you and your baby will be physically separated from the umbilical cord and placenta. There will therefore be no discomfort felt by either of you during the collection of the cord blood.

If I choose to delay cord clamping can I still do cord blood banking?

Yes you can. Research has shown that a 1 minute delay in clamping will result to a transfer of about 80ml of blood into the infant, with more than 100ml of blood left for cord blood banking. The recommended times for delaying cord clamping are:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) ─ between 1 to 3 minutes1
  • Royal College of OB-GYNs (RCOG) – 30 seconds to 2 minutes2
  • The American College of OB-GYNs (ACOG) – 30 seconds to 60 seconds3

All of the above international bodies suggested not to go over 3 to 5 minutes before clamping due to the high incidence of increased risk for neonatal phototherapy, higher risk of polycythemia, hyperbilirubinemia and other neonatal disorders

1Abalos E. Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes: RHL commentary (last revised: 2 March 2009). The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization.

2Scientific Impact Paper No. 14: Clamping of the Umbilical Cord and Placental Transfusion. (2015). The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Obstet Gynecol, 17(3), 216-216.

3Timing of umbilical cord clamping after birth. Committee Opinion No. 543. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2012;120:1522–6.

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