Cord blood collection process
How is cord blood collected?
Immediately after the birth of your baby, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, separating your baby from the placenta and mother. Your obstetrician, midwife or trained collector will then clean the umbilical cord prior to collecting the cord blood.
A needle is then inserted into the umbilical vein and, using gravity for assistance, the blood is drained into a sterile collection bag. This bag contains anticoagulant to prevent the blood from clotting. When the collection is complete, the bag is then labelled with the mother's name, date and time of collection. This closed bag collection method allows cord blood to be collected and processed without the need to expose the blood to the surrounding processing environment, which minimises the risk of bacterial contamination.
The procedure is painless and risk-free to both mother and baby. It takes about three minutes and does not alter the birthing process in any way.
When is the cord blood collected?
Collection can only take place at the time of delivery and should be done as soon after the birth as possible. The longer you wait to collect the blood, the less blood you will be able to collect, which means fewer stem cells.
It is also generally recommended that the cord blood is collected while the placenta remains in-utero. This method is simplest and optimises the volume of cord blood collected. It can however also be collected after the placenta has been delivered and detailed collection guidelines and training should be provided to your collector to cover both scenarios.
When should the cord be clamped?
To maximise the volume of cord blood collected the umbilical cord should be clamped and cut as soon as possible after the delivery of the baby. The cord should be clamped and cut as close to the baby as practical.
How much blood needs to be collected?
It is important that your collector collects as much cord blood as possible. Typically, collecting more cord blood means collecting more stem cells and there is evidence to support the relationship between the number of stem cells transplanted and survival rate in transplant. The number of stem cells correlates to the volume of cord blood collected.
Are there any risks?
No. The cord blood is collected after your baby has been born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. The cord blood that is being collected is blood that would routinely be thrown away. The procedure is painless and risk-free to both mother and baby. It takes about 3 minutes and does not alter the birthing process in any way.
What about caesarean deliveries?
The birthing process, ie method of delivery, does not impact on the process of cord blood collection. Once your baby has been delivered and the umbilical cord clamped and cut, the collection can take place as previously described. Cord blood collection packs are sterile and suitable for use in theatre at the time of caesarean delivery.
What about assisted deliveries?
The method of vaginal delivery (ie forceps or vacuum assisted) does not impact on the cord blood collection process. Once your baby has been delivered and the umbilical cord clamped and cut, the cord blood collection can then take place as previously described.
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