Thursday, August 23, 2012

Donation Decision - Keeping Is Sometimes Giving

[...Continued from previous post...]

After doing a simple web search to find out if I can delay umbilical cord clamping AND donate the cord blood, the short answer I found was 'No.' To understand why, you need to first have an understanding of baby's blood supply at the time of birth.

As we all know (I hope...), baby lives inside mommy and gets its blood and nutrients from the placenta via the umbilical cord. Baby, umbilical cord, and the placenta are all connected and are one blood circulation unit. When baby is born, about 30% of his/her blood is still in the placenta. Because of this, many parents opt to delay cord clamping in order to allow the nearly ONE THIRD of baby's blood volume to transfer from the placenta to the baby.

That's a big deal.

The above is a diagram from the British Medical Journal showing the transfer of blood volume from the placenta to baby after birth.

Umbilical cord blood (a.k.a. BABY'S blood) contains both red and white blood cells that help fight disease and infection. Allowing the blood from the placenta to transfer to your baby (where it belongs) aids in your child's transition to breathing. It also helps to ensure baby has enough total body iron at birth (as opposed to be anemic for days or months afterward). Right after birth, the umbilical cord pulsates as it continues to deliver oxygen, nutrients, and blood to the baby. This is called placental transfusion, and is a normal and vital part of the birth process. Some people opt for "lotus birth" - allowing the umbilical cord to remain attached to both baby and the placenta until it detaches naturally (this is something our ancestors did....not sure if I want to wait the few days that it takes for this to occur). Bottom line: cord clamping and cutting is a surgical intervention in the birth process that irrevocably changes the physiology and anatomy of the baby at birth.

So...."delayed clamping" is quite the misnomer. Full placental transfusion can take as little as two minutes. TWO MINUTES!! Immediate clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord is actually "premature clamping". I'm not the weirdo for wanting to "delay" clamping until the cord stops pulsating.

Now I'm faced with a decision. Do I donate this precious, potentially life-saving blood to a public bank, depriving my baby of these super cells? Or do I demand that my child be given the chance to receive all of the blood, nutrients, and oxygen that she is meant to have in the first place? The blood that would be donated is not "extra" blood. It's HER blood.

After doing my homework, the decision was simple. Evangeline will be keeping her blood. Some people may think me selfish since thousands upon thousands of babies all over the world survive premature cord clamping every day, leaving plenty of blood to be donated. That's great. Kudos to you if you decide to clamp and donate. I choose to give my baby what she deserves - that blood is hers!

I will be updating/tweaking my birth plan to make sure our wishes regarding cord clamping are well known and fully understood by hospital staff. For suggestions on how to express this in your own birth plan, please check out this site!

To read more about cord clamping, please see the following sites:

Cord Blood Collection: confessions of a vampire-midwife
Cord Blood and Why Delaying Cord Clamping Benefits Your Baby
Delayed Cord Clamping - sharing the information
How Delayed Clamping May Protect Babies From Trauma

And here is a fantastic video that demonstrates blood redistribution after birth.


  1. I had no idea that that much blood was still in the cord... That is crazy. It makes me kind of sick that the doctor clamped and cut immediately. Have you thought about capsulating the placenta? I have heard from 3 different people that it is the best decision they ever made and made post partum recovery much easier... I can ask some of the girls I know who did it if you are interested. There is a lady in Utah county who does it for you. She dries it out and capsulates it for you. I'm not sure of the cost. (That way you can sound like a total freak of nature! ha ha. But still get major health benefits from it)...

  2. I was just going to comment and say that I love this post, and that the premature clamping of my son's cord (hospital protocol because of the meconium - boo!) was the one thing that I was really upset about regarding his birth. Then I saw Susan's comment about placenta encapsulation, and I wanted to add a little more. :) I had mine done this last time around, and it was AMAZING. I'm a huge believer. The lady she's referring to in Utah County may be Laura Curtis - who did mine. Here's her website if you want to check it out.