Delayed cord clamping is a birth practice in which the umbilical cord is not clamped or cut until after pulsations have ceased, or until after the placenta is delivered. According to the World Health Organization, delayed clamping refers to the cord being cut 1-3 minutes after birth – a practice they recommend for all births.
Delayed cord clamping provides benefits to your baby, including a normal healthy blood volume for the transition to life outside of the womb and a full count of red blood cells, stem cells, and immune cells. For the mother, delayed cord clamping keeps the mother-baby unit intact and can prevent complications with delivering the placenta.
Delayed cord clamping and banking umbilical cord blood
The umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and baby. Through the umbilical cord, the baby receives all the oxygen, nutrients and blood the baby needs to grow and develop. Many of our parents who want to store their child’s umbilical cord blood have questions about when to clamp the cord and how the timing affects cord blood collection volume and storage.
With more and more research and evidence showing the benefits of delayed cord clamping, coupled with parents wanting to store their child’s umbilical cord blood, the question is asked on many occasions: Is it possible to delay cord clamping and still collect umbilical cord blood?
The answer is yes and it is possible to do both. Cord blood can be collected regardless of when the cord is clamped. A minimum of 15 mL of blood is necessary for processing and storage, which is a fraction of the approximate 200mL of blood contained in the placenta and umbilical cord. The more blood we are able to collect the better, although we have had 95% of collection volumes successfully processed and stored.
If you choose to delay the cord clamping by 1-3 minutes, approximately 80-100 mL of this blood is transferred to the infant, leaving more than enough to be stored. Studies have shown that delayed clamping had no major effect on collection efficiency. While the amount of blood collected was slightly reduced, the stem cell recovery was not.