Cord blood benefits and possibilities

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July is Cord Blood Awareness Month

I had the wonderful experience of chatting with Shelley Scotka with Central Texas Doula Association earlier in July and she was a wealth of information. July is Cord Blood Awareness month and we thought a little education about Cord blood collection and its many benefits would be helpful to the new moms to be.

What is cord blood and why is it important to your baby?

Cord Blood collection is the process of allowing the blood from the umbilical cord and the placenta time to return to the baby just after birth. This is accomplished by delaying the cord clamping 3 to 5 minutes after birth. The umbilical cord is the gateway for blood transferring from mom to baby while in utero via the placenta.  After the birth process, approximately 1/3 of the blood that is the baby’s is still in the umbilical cord and the placenta. By delaying the clamping of the cord, a little over 450 milliliters of blood returns to the baby providing a rich and nutritious source of stem cells and oxygen.

The benefits to delaying the clamping of the cord

while the baby rests on the new mum’s tummy are: higher birth weight, increase in oxygen in baby’s blood and an increase in higher iron stores up to 6 months after birth which leads to improved red blood cell count. Delayed cord clamping can be performed for both natural and a Cesarian section birth. During a vaginal birth, the pumping of the mommas’ heart helps push the blood from the placenta to the baby, as the cord empties it will turn white and slowly stop pulsating or pumping.  If a baby is born C-section then be aware the circumstances are slightly different and the blood will have to be assisted or “milked” from the placenta to the baby.

There is a concern to be watchful for

following birth the baby may begin to develop jaundice however, the risk-to-benefit side of the baby receiving all of their cord blood leans towards the benefit of the extra blood. Jaundice is the breakdown of extra red blood cells (bilirubin). There may be an underlying health condition when jaundice is noted and your care team will monitor for any concerns.  Most babies will begin to feed shortly after birth and the intestines will absorb the decaying RBC with the new food supply and poop out the excess. Talk with your Doctor for their thoughts on the subject.

Hospitals vary from facility to facility on delayed cord clamping

It is recommended that you research and ask questions when choosing your facility. There are other factors to discuss with your doctor and medical staff such as emergency births. Research shows full-term babies who need resuscitation after birth benefit from the extra oxygen in the cord blood. Discussing the options with your birth partner, Doula and Doctor will help mom during the birth time to relax a bit more knowing a few specifics have been covered. See this video for more information on having a birth plan, the Pros and Cons.

Cord Blood can also be stored in Cord Blood Banks. Stem cells are currently being used in the treatment of approximately 80 medical conditions. Blood diseases such and anemia, some immune disorders and cancers are a few of the medical conditions which benefit from stem cell donation. Stem cells from cord blood are preferred due to the fact that they rarely carry any infectious diseases and are half as likely to be rejected by the recipient.  Stem cells can be preserved and stored in both family/private banks or donated to public banks for patients who may benefit from the use of these specialized cells. The Cord Blood Registry has a good video on the basic information to consider “Parents guide to Cord Blood”

Storing the cord blood can be expensive and there are only a few storage banks available in Texas. There is no fee for public donation of the cord blood however be aware there is a certain volume that needs to be collected so a donation would need to be from a full-term, large baby with enough store to both fulfill the return of cord blood to the baby and a bit extra. For more information Feel Good Mama has an informative video for you to watch.

Thank you, Shelley Scotka, for all your help and information 

Shelley is a Certified Birth Doula (retired) Postpartum Doula and Childbirth Educator for 25 years. She currently works for St. David’s Healthcare and Any Baby Can in Austin.

For more information about local birth and postpartum doulas contact Keep Austin Doulad

The best of wishes to all the moms to be and all the new moms. We hope this is very helpful and would love to hear from you.  What you would like us to research and provide links and helpful contacts in Central Texas for you and your family?

Be safe and hug your kids often