Can I still collect my baby’s cord blood if I want to delay clamping the cord?

This is one of the most common questions parents ask when looking at cord blood banking. They believe that it is practically impossible to delay clamping the umbilical cord and also save the cord blood. The precise answer to this question is ‘yes’, it is very possible to delay clamping the umbilical cord and still save the cord blood.

What exactly is delayed cord clamping?

Delayed cord clamping as the name implies is the practice of delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord until it stops pulsating. It may also refer to the practice by which the umbilical cord is not clamped or cut until the placenta is delivered. The duration of delayed cord clamping is actually not specific; however, the recommended time for delaying cord clamping given by the World Health Organization (WHO) ranges from between 1 minute to 3 minutes.

Some people think that delaying cord clamping will make cord blood banking impossible, but in general, the amount of blood needed for storing the cord blood is only about 50 milliliters (ml), while the amount of blood in the placenta and umbilical cord is approximately 200ml so, 50ml is just a fraction of the total amount of blood in the placenta and umbilical cord.

Also, 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. If one then decides to delay for the stipulated WHO maximum time of 3 minutes, it has been found that just about 100ml of blood must have gone into the baby, still leaving more than enough for cord blood banking.

There is very little impact on the ability to collect cord blood when parents choose to delay the clamping of the umbilical cord. While a growing number of expecting parents have been learning more about the option to delay clamping of their baby’s umbilical cord, many have also been misinformed that they must choose between delayed cord clamping and cord blood banking. Both actions provide important value to parents and baby and are not incompatible with one another.

Delayed clamping can provide important value to the baby immediately, and stem cells found in the cord blood can provide long-term protection. To date, more than 80 diseases have been treated using cord blood stem cells, and they have also been used in transplant medicine in lieu of a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. In our experience, parents can both delay clamping and save the cord blood, without choosing one over the other.

It is important to know that expecting parents can both delay clamping and save the cord blood. In general, there is no negative impact on cord blood banking by delayed cord clamping. It will also help if you discuss both options with your doctor, so they can also support you to do both.

Find out more common myths and misconceptions about cord blood banking aside from delayed umbilical cord clamping