As soon as I found out that I was pregnant with Gabriel, I started doing a LOT of homework. I wanted to learn as much as I could about maintaining a healthy pregnancy and baby. I also wanted to make sure that I was aware of my options for childbirth and pre/postnatal care. I have to tell you - there is a LOT to learn about. A LOT.
Just when I thought I had most of my bases covered, I would hear or read something in passing and have more homework to do. When I moved to Hawaii and did my hospital tour, one of the things that came up was the option to collect and bank the umbilical cord blood. What? I didn't know people did that....or why they would. Time for some research.
Of course, everything I found was about the amazing, life-saving benefits of collecting and banking (or donating) the blood from baby's umbilical cord and placenta. The blood contains stem cells and can be used to help treat leukemia and other diseases. It can save lives! How awesome! Why not do this?! I was all for it. But then I learned that the likelihood of a child needing or being able to use their own cord blood is about 1 in 20,000. You are more likely to find an appropriate source of stem cells from another person - more than likely, an anonymous donor. For that reason, I chose to donate/publicly bank my baby's cord blood. Do a good deed. Karma and all that. Maybe my son's cord blood would save another person's life! Now, THAT, I am all for. And it's not like it's hurting me or my child, right?
Hmmm....maybe I was wrong about that last part. I'll get to that in a bit.
In my birth plan for Gabriel, I specified a desire to donate the cord blood. But because of complications and an eventual emergency c-section, I was not able to donate. I was pretty disappointed. But at least my baby and I were both fine!
So now I'm closing in on my due date for baby #2. I was set on trying again. My hospital doesn't have any in-house donation procedures or equipment, so I asked one of the OBs at my clinic about it. He suggested contacting the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank (ran by Duke University Medical Center). I found out that you can request a cord blood collection kit and they will send it to you. As long as your doctor or midwife is properly trained in collecting, you're good to go. If they're not, they can take a quick course online (provided by Duke) and become certified. Awesome.
I got my kit in the mail last week - yay! They encourage you to open it up and become familiar with its contents. I have to say--I was pretty intimidated. There's a thermal box and a digital temperature data thingy and science fiction-sounding stuff like cryogel and the like. Eep! Whatever--this stuff isn't for me to understand. The hospital staff can take care of it.
Anyway, at my last visit with my midwife I mentioned that I wanted to donate. We started talking about it and I told her about he online course. Then I remembered something--I want to delay cord clamping. I had heard that there are several benefits to delaying clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. I did my duty as a responsible parent and researched delayed clamping. After doing my homework, I included that in my birth plan. I asked my midwife if I can delay clamping and still donate. She wasn't sure, so we agreed to find more information and discuss it at my next visit.
Yet again, I found my nose buried in data. Turns out I can't have my cake and eat it too. I can either donate the cord blood or delay clamping. Wah wah waaahhhh.....
[To Be Continued....find out what decision we have made and why.]