You can [cord] bank on it


[Bella loves the belly]

As we’ve been rolling along with everything, we’ve had to make a lot of medical-related decisions for the baby. Some were easy (like deciding to skip the eye treatment after birth- it’s only absolutely necessary for those with a history of STDs and can make the baby’s vision blurry during a critical time of bonding), and other decisions have taken a great deal of research and consideration. [A few people have asked about this, and we do plan to vaccinate our baby. We’re most likely going to skip the Hep B vac when she’s born, but the required vaccinations will be followed, but spaced out more so she won’t have to get a lot of shots at once]

One of the things we have yet to make a decision about: cord blood banking.

It was one of those things that I heard about and immediately wanted to do, but after doing more research, am not sure if it’s necessary in our situation.

What exactly is cord blood banking?

From this website:

“Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord immediately after delivery and cryogenically storing it for future potential medical uses. Cord blood, which is rich in stem cells, is usually discarded along with the umbilical cord and the placenta after birth.

Collections can take place after vaginal or cesarean births and caregivers do not alter routine delivery procedures to collect cord blood. Because the collection occurs after the cord has been clamped and cut, there is no risk or pain to the infant or mother.

Thousands of families are banking their newborns’ cord blood because it contains stem cells that are unique to the newborn, and genetically related to their families. Cord blood banking enables parents to preserve these precious stem cells for their own potential use for the many developing applications of stem cell technologies, such as its use in treating heart disease and diabetes. It also serves as a type of safeguard in case of future need for treatment of the dozens of cancers and blood disorders that are already being treated with cord blood stem cells.”

The cord blood is removed by clamping both sides of the umbilical cord, and a nurse or doctor will extract the cord blood before the placenta is delivered. It’s a fairly easy procedure –a little more complicated but possible if you have a C-section- and you need a kit in advance from your bank of choice to give to your doctor.

Diseases that can be treated using cord blood:

image Source

Banking cord blood can be extremely beneficial, but we’re still on the fence about it.

Many people who choose to bank their child’s cord blood often have a close family member with one of the above diseases. If you don’t have any risk factors (which we don’t), the risk of this happening is low, but knowing your baby’s personal risk is obviously impossible. In the case of many of the diseases listed, bone marrow can be donated from a matching relative and used for treatment.

Another thing that I’m concerned about is that collecting the blood could cause the baby to have anemia or a low blood count after birth, especially since they use those final moments to store up as much iron and nutrients as possible from the umbilical cord. 

The cost of cord blood banking is very high (around $2000 + monthly storage fees) but we’re not letting cost affect our decision. You can’t put a price tag on a baby’s health, so whatever we need to do financially, we’ll do it.

My midwives have said that they don’t think it’s necessary in our situation, but I can’t help but wonder about the “what-ifs” and being devastated later that we didn’t do it.

Of course, we’re going to continue to weigh the options and make whatever decision is right for our family,

but I’m curious:

Did you bank your baby’s cord blood? What factors had the greatest impact on your decision?

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  1. Mary on November 15, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I know you have made up your mind re: vaccinations, but I thought I would share these with you anyway 😉

    • DD on November 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

      Please, please do not listen to this person or anyone else who is against vaccinations. I am an ER doctor and can tell you that if you don’t immunize your baby, you are putting her at risk for serious life threatening diseases (and if you come into the ER with an unimmunized child who is sick, we are going to have to do a LOT more tests, like bloodwork, x-rays, and maybe even a lumbar puncture- than if you brought in an immunized child)

      • Fitnessista on November 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

        we’ve made up our mind already about that one- she will be getting vaccinated

  2. KaraLynn on November 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I have been looking into cord blood banking too. Where we don’t have any risk factors, we are kind of feeling the same as you, but wondering if we’ll regret it later. A lot of things I have read though say that if the baby has something wrong with it involving abnormal cells, generally their cord blood will too. I found out you can donate the cord blood, and we are considering doing that. There is no cost to you and it makes it available for others who may need it, and hopefully enough people have donated that if we ever needed it, the option would be available to us from a donation bank.

  3. Lissy on November 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

    sounds like there’s pros and cons to both. I haven’t done any research on the topic as I’m not quite there with the baby thing yet, but from the comments it sounds like even on the off chance you do need it, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use it as the technology isn’t quite there yet.

    yay for vaccines 🙂 I know you’ve definitely has an influence on me when it comes to health decisions and I’m sure other people look to you for advice as well, so like others, happy to see you’re pro-vaccination 🙂
    I didn’t know they give Hep B vaccines to babies. why?? Are they afraid they’ll get it from their parents or something?

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      i think it’s more of a general precaution than anything? there’s no way our baby would be exposed to it, especially since it’s a blood transmitted disease

      • Julie (A Case of the Runs) on November 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        I suggest that you do eventually get her that vaccine, because I had to get all 3 doses before they’d let me into college and such. And you really don’t want her contracting it later in life…

        • Fitnessista on November 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

          We will before she goes to school, but there’s no reason for her to have it as a baby

          • Alicia @culinarybliss on December 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm

            They do it at birth because many children are never again in the hospital system. We declined it at birth and she’ll be getting it at her 2 month appointment.

  4. Anya on November 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Hi! This is the first time I’ve commented 🙂 just wanted to say please, please consider donating you’re baby’s cord blood if you decide not to bank it! It is such an easy pain-free and important way we an contribute to healthier babies all around. The chance that you will need your own cord blood in your case is, as you said, extremely slim. But the chances that someone else could use it are much higher. I worked with Cord Blood Bank and it was just beautiful to see SO many women contributing to the potential healing of others in a time when all their hearts and minds were focused on their own new little one. It’s COMPLETELY safe for the baby and takes no more extra time than signing a few forms!

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      yes, this is definitely an option we’re considering if we don’t decide to bank it

  5. Anya on November 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Oops sorry for the typos! iPhone autocorrect…

  6. hilary on November 15, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Gina,

    I saw you commented that you have already made up your mind and your baby will be getting vaccinated. I would still encourage you to read the book Saying No to Vaccines by Dr Sherri Tenpenny, just to be aware of the other side. Or maybe you could share how you came to your decision so that we understand why you decided this? And just a reminder that the mainstream medical community, which you generally seem to steer clear of, is HIGHLY influenced by vaccine companies and are greatly reimbursed for every shot they administer. They have a lot of skin in the game to convince you that it is the only reasonable option.

    As for cord banking, we didn’t do it. I feel that the baby needs every bit of blood that the placenta pumps to it after birth.

    I realize these are hot topics, but I wanted to chime in since you blogged about it!

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      i’ve researched both sides extensively, and after researching and talking to the pilot and our midwives about it, that’s what we decided. i’m not going to post the reasons why, because it is a hot topic and just setting up for intense debate and/or attack for our personal decision, and i don’t want to influence anyone who is making the same decision for their family. it’s up to everyone to research, know what options are available, and decide for themselves.

      • JennP on November 15, 2011 at 5:38 pm

        I don’t know why anybody would assume that you hadn’t already researched both sides. You’ve certainly demonstrated in the past that you’re all about informed decisions.

        We came up with a plan for a slightly adjusted schedule with our pediatrician. We are delaying MMR until she is 18 months and eliminated chicken pox and influenza (at least for the time being). She is an only child and not in daycare, so her exposure (to anything really) is pretty limited. We just felt better about holding off on the ones that contain live viruses.

        We have a great pediatrician whose input and opinions we trust implicitly, and he was really helpful and encouraging when we approached him about this topic! Of course he turns a profit when he vaccinates (he’s not a volunteer M.D. after all), but it’s really unfair to assume that an ethical doctor would act against what he thought was best for your child for that reason alone.

    • Jessica A. on November 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      I’m a member of the medical community, and I can say from personal experience this is completely false. As a pediatrician, I encourage my patients to make the best choices for their families, and main stream ideas play no role in this. I would encourage you to look more into the researched benefits of vaccinations. I’ve also seen precious little peanuts lose battles to diseases that vaccinations could have prevented. I’ve seen newborns lose battles to viruses, including pertussis, before they were old enough to receive their vaccinations, knowing that someone who was unvaccinated gave that virus to that child. I think the first time you see a mother’s heartbreak in front of you, by something that you know could have been easily prevented, it plays more of a role in your opinion than any drug rep. I think rather than saying the medical community is following main- ideas, it would be more accurate to say they are following years of experience in most situations.

    • Jessica A. on November 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      I also forgot to add, that my practice barely breaks even on vaccinations, and in most cases we actually lose money with each vaccination we give. It isn’t well reimbursed in the primary care setting, and this is a national trend.

      • JennP on November 16, 2011 at 10:43 am

        Love your comments and your info! Nice to hear it from a physician’s perspective. I had assumed that you would have made more money per vaccination, but either way, that would not have been a deterrent for me! Whether or not the doctor turns a profit and whether or not it’s in the best interest of your child are two seperate matters.

        Every profession in the world (doctor, designer, mechanic etc) makes more money when they sell you additional goods and services – that’s not exclusive to doctors. It’s simply a great reason to find professionals that you trust!

    • Caroline on November 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      I’m really not trying to be offensive, but that attitude is really very frightening. Doctors are out to make a living, but vaccinations also happen to be really great for not dying of measles, and other preventable illnesses. I know it’s been said before, but I can’t emphasize enough that your children aren’t the only ones who are put at risk when you decide not to vaccinate. The world is scary enough for new parents without having to be afraid that their baby will be exposed to an illness that shouldn’t even be on their radar because it’s supposed to be almost nonexistant because of vaccinations. Not vaccinating doesn’t make you a progressive parent, it actually fits the definition of regressive.

      • Caroline on November 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm

        Just to be clear, I’m responding to Hilary, and I’m not trying to attack anyone, or even criticize anyone’s parenting, but it’s scary stuff, and I wanted to be clear on my stance.

  7. Anna on November 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    We donated our baby’s cord blood. I wanted to bank it, but cost was unfortunately a factor for us. Plus, we don’t have a history of any serious medical problems, so I allowed cost to come in to play.

  8. Tara on November 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Another option we have, which we are going to do, is donating the cord blood to research. We figure if we do not need it, maybe it can help other children. I know this is not available in all areas though.

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      that’s what we’re considering, too

  9. Kayla on November 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Gina,
    I’m a long time reader and just started researching vaccinations vs not getting them. I know the study with autism has been proven a scam study, but I have serious doubts of western medicine bc of personal experience with prescription medication. However, would you consider emailing me about what your midwives and other research said to help your decision? I’ve done research but I really am in between and worry about when I have kids what I should do.

  10. Stephanie on November 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Upon finding out I was pregnant, I was so sure that we would definitely bank our baby’s cord blood – there was no question about it, right? We have a history of cancers on my side of the family, although most of them were caused by outside factors (i.e. sun, smoking). Well, now after reading a Parents magazine article, I’m rethinking it over. If we don’t bank, we will for sure donate, but I definitely need to do some more research before we make our final decision. Here’s the article in case you want to read it:

    I hope you don’t take this as a sway to not bank, because I haven’t even made up my own mind about it. I just thought this was an interesting side of the cord blood banking industry that I have never heard about.

  11. Jess on November 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    We decided not to cord bank. Two things really helped us the first of which being that she wouldn’t be able to use it even if she got sick. The second is that it was expensive and we didn’t have a good option for collecting it at the hospital.

  12. The Mommy on November 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    *I haven’t read any of the other comments so forgive me if I repeat things already stated.

    1. We did bank the cord blood for both of our daughters. We used Life Bank (in Canada, not sure if they’re in the US). Yes, it’s expensive start-up, but only around $125/year after.
    2. Both of our fathers died from leukemia. Ironically, the same leukemia (Acute Lymphoblastic). And there is other cancer within both sides of the family.
    3. I had a c-section both times and they had no trouble with collection.

    Yes, you can donate the cord blood but I’ve heard that it has to be a certain amount and a certain quality otherwise they throw it out. Seriously. All that trouble and thinking you’re doing a good thing and it might not actually be accepted. If you bank it for personal use then whatever amount collected is saved. Period.

    What I do know about stem cell transplants I learned during my dad’s treatment. You cannot just get a transplant from a family member, they have to be a match. Siblings are more likely to be the best match (provided their parents are the same), but they are not guaranteed to be a match.
    Children cannot donate to their parents (I was first in line to ask about that for my dad).
    Parents cannot donate to their kids.
    Yes, you can get a transplant from a match in a bank, which is what my dad ended up having to do – he had one brother who turned out to not be a match. The risk of this is that the patient will then develop Graft VS Host Disease, which basically means that the stem cells don’t recognize the body they are in and they begin to attack certain organs (skin, stomach and liver) and the immune system. It’s horrendous, and is pretty much what set my dad on the path toward his death. The complications from the transplant were just so great for his already depleted body.

    Obviously you will decide what is right for your family. We did what we felt was right for ours….knowing what we know.


  13. Chelsea M on November 16, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I personally have not been pregnant (yet) and have not had to make this decision. However, I am a bit biased as a Stem Cell Transplant nurse. I am not sure if you are aware but if you decide to not keep the cord blood for your little girl you can donate it to the state Blood Bank. Here it can be used by anyone who may need it for a stem cell transplant to treat their disease when an appropriate sibling or other doner match isn’t available. I have seen cord blood save lives and as a nurse who cares for them I am always thankful to the people who do donate it to the public. Just a thought I wanted to make you aware of.

    • BIOCHEMISTA on November 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      I have to second this. I’ve done leukemia research for 6 years now and seeing a life saved entirely by a complete stranger, is pretty incredible. Especially when it’s a child.

  14. BIOCHEMISTA on November 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    It’s a tough call but I guess I would lean towards being on the safer side. Although the chance of actually needing the cord is slim, you have to ask yourself “what if?”. I’d hate to see someone look back and think “oh my gosh I could have saved him/her”.

  15. Rachel @ The Perseverance Diaries on November 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I WISH I had my cord blood banked when I was born! I just recently finished treatment for non-hodgkin Lymphoma and if I had had that, it would’ve been extremely beneficial. It’s not common to have cancer or any of these other disorders/diseases but the chance of it IS there and it does make a huge difference!!

    I find this all to be so interesting, is this a new thing? I’ve never really heard about it until very recently.

    • Susan on November 17, 2011 at 10:05 am

      Fellow lymphoma patient here (hi Rachel!) and want to echo these sentiments! I can’t tell you the number of times my mom has wished out loud that she had banked my cord 25 years ago, even though it wasn’t in regular practice then. I have absolutely no history of blood cancer in my family as well, just bad luck! Just think in another 25 years how having it could help beyond the diseases listed above. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make Gina, so just wanted to chime in as someone who wishes they had that cord banked away!

  16. Ginger on November 17, 2011 at 12:28 am

    We’re hippies but we vaccinated and didn’t bank the cord blood.

  17. nicole on November 17, 2011 at 12:41 am

    We didn’t even consider cord banking with our oldest child because there was no history of illness in our family. We never even considered it with our second. After my second child was born my oldest was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2. It came out of the blue and was a real shocker. Thankfully she is cancer free now. When we had our third we made sure to bank the cord blood just in case our children needed it. I had a c section and there was no issue with banking the blood. It is definitely a tuff decision as it is expensive but I can only encourage you to go with your gut instinct and worry about the price later.

  18. Katherine on November 17, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I know my brother and sister in law were going back and forth with this one as well. They ultimately decided against banking the cord blood. Apparently it would have been super expensive, and from what they were told a lot of the banks close without any notice. So you could be paying to keep the blood there and then one day it’s just gone. This is only my very limited knowledge of course.
    Either way, whichever decision you make is the right one. With something like this, you need to decide and then just go with it. Doubting yourself after the fact can drive you nuts.
    Good luck to you! 🙂

  19. jane on November 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I dont have a child (yet-can’t wait to have them someday!!) but my sister has a 2 month old and they collected the cord blood. I am not really sure what prompted their decision but my sister is a labor and delivery nurse and i figure she knew what she was doing…just my 2 cents!

  20. Christina on November 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    We chose to donate the cord blood. Honestly, the expense of the cord blood banking was probably the biggest factor in our decision. I had to see a high risk doctor, which we weren’t expecting, so the expense of pregnancy was already a little much. Add to that a birth with complications, it turned out to be the best move donating the blood.
    I spoke to the person at the donation center. I happen to donate platelettes as I have a very rare blood type. According to the center, in many instances, a match from cord blood is quite possible, so if my child needs cord blood, we should have a high percentage chance of finding a match. Additionally, she said that it would be likely that his actual blood would still be available for use as they use the closest match available and cord blood is stored differently than regular blood. I cannot speak to how accurate this is.
    I do know that it was a very easy process which involved me getting one extra arm band during delivery to alert all medical personel that I would be donating cord blood. As it involved absolutely nothing else on my end, I would recommend this for anyone who doesn’t feel banking cord blood is an option. Donating is so easy, there is almost no reason not to other than if you choose to bank.

  21. Lorissa Diaz on November 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Hey Gina! It’s been awhile 🙂 I saw your post on Facebook and it sparked my attention…I must say that cord blood banking is definitely something Rolando and I are planning on doing given my history (A.L.L as a child), but I do understand where you are coming from with your risk factors being low…although, I have to tell you: I was the first in my long line of family that was ever diagnosed with leukemia. Look into the various companies (I know CBR offers military discounts which could help you for the initial banking fee) because banking fees vary and so do annual storage fees (although pretty low, $125-150). 🙂 Hope this helps! And CONGRATS!!!

  22. Kathy on November 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    We banked both cord blood for both of our kids and I’ve never regretted it. We just factor the cost into our monthly bills. I had c-sections for both and the hospital staff were more than happy to support us.

  23. Katy @ MonsterProof on November 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    This was actually a huge debate for us. They have only recently started researching it’s use for Parkinson’s patients, but since my mother is diagnosed (and is fairly young), we seriously contemplated it (as did my parents). Ultimately, none of us could justify the cost based on the “what if” of research discovering a Parkinson’s use. We just didn’t have the disposable income to do it.

  24. rbm on November 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    hi gina! i’ve recently discovered your blog, and just wanted to say thanks so much! i’ve just spent a couple of hours reading some of your previous posts, and i really appreciate your thoughtfulness and willingness to share your experiences. i am finding all your advice both helpful and comforting while the mister and i are currently ‘trying’ to make the next big step happen! thanks & cheers!

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      thank you so much for reading and for saying hi 🙂
      best of luck to you <3 hope it happens soon!

  25. Gia on December 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    HI there, I am not sure where you and the piolet landed with your cord blood decision … but I banked my twin’s cord blood and just received a friends and family discount with CBR for 250 off of your total costs. I dont have anyone close to me who is preggo … so I thought I would offer it to you! Let me know if you want it. I can email it.

    • Fitnessista on December 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      we still haven’t decided, so i’d love the code just in case. thank you!

  26. Laura J on December 18, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Just so you know, cord blood is collected after the cord stops pulsing– which means no more blood is given to/taken from the baby because the placenta has detached. As long as you instruct the staff to not cut or drain the cord while it has a pulse, your baby will get everything they can AND you can bank. We banked our daughter’s cord blood in 2008. We only pay $125/year for storage. 🙂

  27. Kath on February 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Did you guys decide to do this Gina?

    • Fitnessista on February 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

      No because we found out that our hospital does it for free if something happens during labor and delivery that would cause us to need it (like brain injury)

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