Consumer Affairs recently released a list of the Top 9 Cord Blood Banking options available to parents of newborns. They based their ratings on the type of accreditation the best options had, the shipping and delivery methods, years of clinical experience and other things like cost to the consumer and payment options.
The research group also created a video explaining cord blood collection and processing, which is actually quite simple. What's important for expectant families to understand is that cord blood banking isn't a service provided by hospitals—your doctor or midwife may not even make you aware that it's an option for anyone.
Consumer Affairs breaks it down into three steps: collection, processing, preservation. They also made a 3-minute video which gets at all the basic information.
The first thing parents should do is let the doctor or midwife know by the 34th week of pregnancy that they're interested in banking their newborn's cord blood.
To do that, you first have to pick a cord blood bank and order a kit. You will give the kit to the labor and delivery nurse when you check in at the hospital or to your midwife when she arrives at your house.
The collection process involves a needle, which the birth attendant uses to extract around 2 ounces of blood from the detached umbilical cord. There's no pain or risk to the mother or child, and the procedure—which collects between 1 and 2 million stem cells—takes no more than five minutes. Blood is also drawn from the mother to test for any infectious diseases.
The specimens are boxed up and shipped overnight to the cord blood processing center, where the mother's blood and the cord blood samples are tested. The stem cells are then separated from the plasma and red blood cells.
The stem cells are then sent to storage in liquid nitrogen, which keeps them from changing or aging. Stem cells can be stored this way for decades.
Researchers are only just discovering the possibilities stem cells have in terms of medicine and science, which makes cord blood collection and storage something most expectant families may want to consider.