A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Should I Save My Baby's Cord Blood?

I’ve been a pediatrician for over 20 years, and I routinely answer questions about what to expect when baby is born, how much to feed baby, and vaccine safety. And now, parents want to know if they should save their baby’s cord blood.

Only 22 percent of pediatricians speak about umbilical cord blood banking to prospective parents, yet it’s an important and complex discussion to have; and parents need guidance in making this decision. Indeed, a quick google search quickly leads to advertisement for a private cord bank site that will make you, an already nervous new parent, feel like you made a big mistake by not using their services. But wait… before you act out of fear of the unknown, I want to offer up some information and clarification about storing and using your baby’s umbilical cord blood for future potential life-saving procedures.

Here are 7 common questions about cord blood banking, answered.

1. What is cord blood? The cord blood is the blood that’s in baby’s umbilical cord after baby is born. What is different about this blood is that they are stem cells that are undifferentiated and can grow and become tissues, organs and blood vessels. Umbilical stem cells can treat many conditions, such as certain blood disorders, severe immune deficiencies and even rare metabolic abnormalities. They also can be used to treat side effects from radiation and chemotherapy, which also kills the good cells found in the bone marrow. Healthy stem cells can replace defective cells and produce healthy new blood cells that can then boost immunity, which in turns can help a child heal from a life-threatening disease.

2. How is cord blood collected? After your baby is born either vaginally or by c-section, doctors clamp and cut the umbilical cord as usual. They can then collect blood from the part of the umbilical cord that is still attached to the placenta. They usually draw blood up in a large needle that is inserted into the umbilical vein (it’s nowhere near your baby and does not cause any pain at all). The amount collected is somewhere between 1 to 5 ounces. It’s a fast procedure and does not interfere with the excitement, joy or initial bonding with baby. The umbilical cord blood is then sent to a cord bank to be processed and stored.

3. Can I use my baby’s cord blood if they develop leukemia? This is probably the most common question about using baby’s umbilical cord blood. The answer, unfortunately, is no. Many parents believe that if they store their infant’s umbilical cord blood, they can use it if their child develops leukemia later in life. However, we now know that the initial cord blood stems cells are already “infected;” which means that if you treat leukemia with a child’s own stem cells -- a procedure called autologous transplant --, the illness is likely to persist or come back. The best way to treat leukemia would thus be with a donor’s stem cells. Right now, autologous transplants can only be used for certain diseases like multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia, and some solid tumors like medulloblastoma, retinoblastoma and neuroblastoma. What’s more, it’s important to know that the small amount of stem cells that can be harvested from cord blood is often not enough to treat adults.

4. Can umbilical cord blood be used for siblings? Yes. Using cord blood from a matching donor -- whether it is a sibling or an unrelated donor -- is called an allogenic transplant, and it is a much more common use of cord blood. And you can actually use donated stem cells for many types of leukemia, lymphomas, anemias, severe immune deficiency disorders and many inherited metabolic disorders. In fact, parents are twice as likely to use their baby’s stem cells for a sibling as they are for their own baby. So if you have another child or someone in your family that you know could benefit from a stem cell treatment, cord blood banking could be the right path for you.

5. What is private cord blood banking? Parents have options when it comes to cord blood banking. You can pay for private storage, which means only you and your family have access to your baby’s umbilical cord blood. This could be a great option if you know that a family member has an illness that could be treated with cord blood. But storing cord blood in a private cord blood bank can be very expensive, with a yearly maintenance fee to store the stem cells; and it is not covered by insurance. This means that you would need to pay out of pocket for storing cord blood that you may never use.

6. What is public cord banking? This is a depository that would be accessible to everyone in need of blood cells. The blood is screened, stored, and given to someone who is a match and needs stem cells for a life-saving treatment, free of charge. Conversely, you and your family could also access to a donor’s stem cells to treat illnesses like leukemia, which autologous transplants do not cure. Since it makes stem cells available to the public, this donation system insures less waste. Indeed, an infant’s cord blood cells is 30 times more likely to be used in a public cord bank than it is in a private one. Unlike private cord banks, which are not subject to federal guidelines and oversight, public cord banks are strictly and highly regulated.

7. So should I choose a private or public cord blood bank? There are certain circumstances that warrant a preference for private cord blood banking, and if you want that added insurance of “what if something new comes along,” private cord banking may be the right decision for you. But remember that there is little chance that your baby will use his or her own stem cells later in its life; and even if he or she does, the procedure isn’t a cure-all. Though I ultimately think it is a personal decision to make, I tend to advocate for public cord banking. Because if we all banked our newborns cord blood publicly, it would save the lives of many other people, and especially little ones.

Dr. Jen Trachtenberg is a nationally renowned parenting expert, author, board certified pediatrician, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at The Icahn School of Medicine. She has run a successful private pediatric practice in New York City for more than 22 years and is mother to three children. She is the creator of Pediatrician in Your Pocket: the only science-based, mom-tested, no-judgement, video guide for new parents.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna

BUY

2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna

BUY

3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95

BUY

4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna

BUY

5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna

BUY


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


You might also like:

Most baby showers don't make the news, but when you're Meghan Markel, everything you do makes the news. This week it seems like the whole world is talking about the shower friends of the Duchess are throwing for her in NYC.

As Vanity Fair reports, while there was much speculation that the shower was happening on Tuesday, it's actually going down on Wednesday afternoon and Serena Williams is the head shower thrower behind this luxe bash.

The Duchess, the GOAT and other friends including Markel's Toronto-based stylist Jessica Mulroney, actresses Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra, and Markle's college pal, author Lindsay Roth, are reportedly enjoying the Mark hotel's penthouse (and all its five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms and two powder rooms) but you don't have to have Serena's bank account to shower a mama-to-be with gifts fit for a royal.

Here are six Meghan Markle-inspired baby shower gifts between $8 and $300.

1. Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib 

As Hello! reports, one of the gifts brought to the Mark for Markle's baby shower was hard to miss. Cameras were snapping as a box labeled "Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib" was rolled into the hotel this week.

The convertible crib retails for $379 on Amazon. The mid-range price point means it's within reach even for those who don't live in a palace.

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

My dearest Bee,

Here we are, it's your birthday. You're a year old today! Happy birthday, my beautiful little girl.

Two years ago, if someone had told me that I'd be celebrating my first child's first birthday today, I would have laughed. Me? Having a child? It's not that I didn't want to be a mom, or that I didn't want you, it's that I didn't think I could have you.

During the eight years leading up to your birth, I had five miscarriages. I went to multiple doctors and nobody could tell me what was wrong. After months of tests and all the money we spent, we had no answers. The doctors could only tell us to keep trying, and hope for the best.

But it's hard to hope for the best after so many years and so many lost babies. Your daddy and I had resigned ourselves to believing that we would never meet you. That we would never be blessed with your presence in our lives. You were all we ever wanted, and we thought we wouldn't get to have you.

I remember the day I realized I was pregnant with you. After five previous pregnancies, I could just tell. It was right before Thanksgiving weekend, and your aunt and uncle were coming to visit us.

I was terrified to take a test. I knew that if I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive, I'd lose you. Just like I lost your five older siblings. So, I didn't test for a while. I quit drinking alcohol. I quit drinking caffeine. I quit my addiction to Mountain Dew. I lost 10 pounds those first few weeks.

I wasn't sick, I just had a change in taste. I started eating less of the fatty, unhealthy foods I normally ate, and started eating fruits, salads, and whole grains! I waited until eight weeks before taking the pregnancy test that would confirm what I had already knew.

Reaching the beginning of my second trimester was easily one of the happiest days of my life. During prior pregnancies, I'd never made it through the first trimester. At 13 weeks, an ultrasound told us you were healthy, and growing normally.

My pregnancy was relatively uneventful up until the last couple days. I had a mild case of gestational diabetes which was extremely easy to manage as long as I didn't drink soda and I avoided fast food.

The Wednesday before you were born, I went in to see my doctor and my blood pressure was sky-high. I was immediately sent to the hospital for a non-stress test. You were fine, my blood pressure decreased, and I was sent home on bed rest pending the results of a urinalysis that would tell us whether or not I had pre-eclampsia.

Thursday evening we learned I did have a mild case of pre-eclampsia. My doctor sent me in for another non-stress test on Friday morning. My blood pressure was high with no sign of it coming down again. Between the pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, my doctor and I decided the best option was to induce me that day, one week before your due date.

I spent the first 12 hours laboring slowly and uneventfully. It wasn't until about 1 AM Saturday morning—after 14 hours of labor—that the pain became too intense. I received an epidural a half hour later (and just about fell in love with the anesthesiologist that administered it).

After 30 hours of labor I was only 6cm dilated, with a full fever, and it was recommended I have a C-section.

You were born at 4:38 PM that Saturday. And you were smallest, prettiest little baby I'd ever seen, weighing in at just 5 pounds, 15 ounces.

The day you were born was, and will always be, without question, the happiest day of my life. It was a day I didn't expect I'd ever get to experience. A day I thought was nothing but a pipe dream.

And now here we are, one year later. You are my first child, my first daughter. The first person to poop on me, the first person to projectile vomit all over me. You're the first baby I've nursed, the first baby that's slept on my chest. You're the first person to teach me what unconditional love is, and the first person that I'd die for, no questions asked.

Little Bee, you are all my firsts. And you may also be all my lasts. Whether Daddy and I can give you a little brother or sister is unknown to us. Giving you a sibling would be one of the greatest gifts, but nobody knows if we will be able to have more children.

I'm completely happy with the thought of only having you. You're the child I thought I'd never have, you are my world, my everything. Life without you seems unfathomable now, when just a couple years ago life with you seemed impossible.

You turning a year old is bittersweet. That sleepy little infant I had is long gone, replaced by the cutest, funniest little girl I know. I miss the infant you once were, but I adore the wonderful little girl you are becoming. You are the child I've always wanted, and I'm so thankful that I have you.

So happy birthday, Bee. You're the greatest thing that has ever happened to us. I hope you know how wanted, and how loved, you really, truly are.

Even before they reach my bed, I know they are there. The sound of small, soft feet on the carpet of our bedroom pulls me from my always light sleep, although my eyes remain tightly shut.

I can already tell from his gait that it's my son. He gets to the side of my bed. I feel a tender hand rest softly on my face. "Mummy," he says in a loud whisper, not old enough yet to have perfected an actual whisper, "Mummy. Wake up!"

I gather all the strength in my exhausted body and use it to prop open one eye. "What is it, Bubba?"

"I want go in Mummy's bed."

"Okay."

He stretched out his arms and in the darkness I can see his chubby hands grasping at the air near my face. I pick him up awkwardly, my shoulder twinging painfully as I lift his ever-growing body, and plop him next to me in between my blissfully snoring husband and myself.

He immediately burrows down under the covers and I feel two icy feet shove themselves in between my knees. "I loves you Mummy" he loud-whispers and wraps his arm around my neck pulling our faces so close his breath warms mine. His big eyes close and within a minute his breathing has become slow and regular, timing itself with his father's rhythmic snores.

I stare at the roof, so awake. I bump the phone on my bedside table so the screen wakes up: 2:07 am. I groan inwardly, squeeze my eyes shut and will myself to sleep, but my brain is having none of it. It starts racing at near light speed despite my whole body crying out in tiredness at it. I mentally shout the word 'SLEEP!' over the sound of my rushing thoughts over and over.

Finally, my whole being starts to give in and I relax, beginning to drift, my body humming with gratefulness.

"MUMMY! MUUUUUUUUUUUUMMYYYYYYYY!" I jerked quickly out of my fugue state from the sound of my daughter yelling. I rush to her room. She is sitting up in bed, eyes pink and shining.

"Mummy I woke up and I'm all alone." I wrap her in a big hug, kiss her hair and run my fingers down her soft, damp cheek. She lays back down and starts to relax as sit on the edge of her bed.

I wait until her eyes close and then rest my head in my hands. I am so tired I feel like I may throw up. After what seems like a week, but was actually probably closer to 20 minutes, she is settled, so I get up—my whole body cold, stiff, protesting. I look at her. She is softly lit by the light of her bedroom lamp and with her golden hair spread out on her pillow, she looks angelic. My heart swells so much I feel like my chest may burst.

I walk back to my room, to my sleeping boys.

My son has fashioned himself into a convoluted L-shape, allowing me only a thin strip of my bed. I try to pull the blanket over myself, but my husband has one leg tossed onto it, so it won't budge, so a third of my body is exposed. My son dreamily digs his small feet into my back and I hover precariously on the edge of the bed.

I am so tired. So tired. But I could not be more awake. I move my phone once more, and a dim, blue-tinged light glows as the screen illuminates: 3 am.

I lie there, desperate for sleep, but it is too late. I sit on the edge of my bed and gaze at my peacefully sleeping son. He is exquisite. Emotion rises in me again. I feel my eyes prickle. And then, before I can stop myself, my anxiety sees an opening and begins to speak in rapid-fire bullet points.

There is so much hate in the world. Why would you bring children into this? What are you subjecting them too?

Imagine people broke into your house and stole your sleeping children.

Imagine if a bomb went off next door.

You can't always protect them. They are going to get hurt one day, and you might not be able to protect them.

It goes on and on. The fear feels like it's choking me. The dog needs to be let out, so I walk to the living room to bring her outside; grateful for the distraction.

As I step outside, I smell the grass, I feel the cool earth on the soles of my feet, and I look up to the big, dark sky. I notice the sprinkle of twinkling stars.

A light breeze washes over me and I suddenly feel small, and therefore, so do my worries. I begin to feel peace wash over me. I stretch my arms above my head and feel my muscles lengthening, sore but thankful. I am calm.

I go back inside. The green numbers on the microwave inform me it is after 4 am: time to get ready for work. I dress, too slowly, my entire being wistful for the sleep that never was. I make coffee in the biggest cup I can find and toast some bread.

I finish our morning routine and eventually walk out to my car, turn on an audiobook, and drive away from my world for the day.

When I get to work, I am bright and smiley, but some notice my tired eyes. I shrug and say, "Kids kept me up" They smile and say, "Still? By that age, my kids only woke up once a night, if at all!" They tell me that surely, one day, my kids will sleep.

But if only they knew that although it's the kids keeping me awake, they themselves are asleep most of the time they are doing it.

You might also like:

There's nothing like the smell of a baby. The sweet scent of the top of your baby's head is intoxicating like nothing else.

Scientists estimate there are about 150 chemicals present in baby body odor, and while they haven't yet pinpointed exactly which one makes it smell so good to mamas, we do know that none of them can come through the phone.

That's bad news for Hilary Duff, because this mama knows that when you're far from your baby, you miss that smell.

"Ever try to sniff your baby through the phone?" she joked in a recent Instagram post.


Duff's hashtags indicate that she was feeling "desperate" to sniff baby daughter Banks, and while she was joking, it's also probably not far from the truth.

The science shows the scent of a baby has calming properties, so it makes sense that mamas might feel a bit addicted to that smell. Seriously, studies suggest that the scent of a baby's head impacts our brains similarly to drugs used to treat mental illness

Researchers in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm had 30 women smell little hats previously worn by newborn babies. As the women inhaled the scent the researchers studies their brains with a magnetic camera, according to Sciencenordic reports. The images showed the smell was impacting the brain similarly to certain drugs.

Scientists are onto this baby smell thing, and are trying to figure out a way that the power of baby body odor could be used to treat depression.

It would be awesome if they could also figure out a way to transmit it through the phone. (Hey Apple, we've got an app idea for you!)

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.