Cord Blood: Bank, Delay, Donate or Discard?

There are so many factors to consider when creating a birth plan. You want to make sure that the doctors, nurses, midwives and support partners are all aware of your preferences and what you definitely do not want. Epidural or natural? Water birth or in a hospital bed? At home or in a birthing center? Most of these decisions are made pre delivery, even if they’re not guaranteed to happen. One thing that a lot of people forget to talk about is cord blood.

Cord blood is the nutrient rich blood that remains within the placenta following child birth. It is filled with life saving stem cells, and has numerous positive effects for your own child or if you choose to do so, another person who needs it.

Most cord blood winds up as medical waste. Hospitals dispose of the placenta and umbilical cord shortly after delivery because it no longer has any value to the mother or the child.

There are several options in regards to cord blood after delivery of the baby. The cord blood can be transferred to the newborn through a delay in clamping the cord, though some hypothesis dictate that this could show a rise in bilirubin, which causes jaundice.

Another option is storing the cord blood for your own personal use. From the research that I have come across, this process essentially means a private storage of stem cells, frozen in time, for use at a later date should your child or another family member require it. The problem with this option is that it is very expensive. If you have the means however, it is beneficial to you and your family.

The final option is donation. The last hospital I delivered in offered donation, and I was unaware of delayed cord clamping and had no plans to store the cord blood at my own expense. The process was explained to me, and they basically said they would collect the cord blood and it would either be used as life saving stem cells for those who require transplants, for medical research purposes or if something was wrong with it upon collection it would be discarded as medical waste.

The process for donation was fairly simple. I had to fill out some forms, and a blood technician came to see me a few hours after I delivered. She asked me quite a few personal questions, and drew a sample of my blood. A few months later, I received a certificate thanking me for my donation.

Sadly at the hospital I’m delivering my son in is different from the one where I delivered my daughter, and unfortunately they don’t offer the option for cord blood donation. This time around, I think I’m going to request delayed cord clamping and let my son benefit from the nutrient rich blood instead.

There are so many things to think about with birth and after birth, and this topic is often neglected. Make sure to do all your own research, and ask your medical professionals for their guidance and advice. I am not a doctor, and all of this is from my own personal research and personal experience. Thanks for reading!

To learn more about cord blood donation in Canada, visit

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