How your baby’s umbilical cord works

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The umbilical cord nurtures life in the womb, it connects you to your baby. By banking your baby’s cord blood and cord tissue, that lifeline can be preserved. You can request more information about cord blood banking from our partners at ViaCord by tapping here, or read on to learn about the incredible role your umbilical cord plays.

Lifeline to the placenta

Think of the placenta as the middle-man between mom and baby. It exchanges oxygen-depleted blood and waste products from baby for oxygen rich cells and nutrients that baby needs. It’s like a constant swap meet going on in your uterus.

Your baby’s umbilical cord connects to the placenta, allowing this exchange of oxygenated blood via the umbilical vein. The cord lets baby stay attached to the placenta with plenty of room to move and grow.

The tissue surrounding the umbilical vein and arteries acts like a cushion, preventing twisting and compression to ensure the cord blood flow remains steady and constant.

Where does it go after your baby is born?

There are three stages of labor: pre-labor (when your water breaks and contractions start), delivery (when you push baby out), and afterbirth (the delivery of your placenta).

After delivery, the umbilical cord will almost always be clamped, then cut, before the placenta is delivered. Some people choose to delay clamping the cord, waiting at least 30-60 seconds, which gives the umbilical cord an opportunity to pulse and pass more blood to the newborn.

Some evidence exists to support “delayed cord clamping” in preterm infants (under 37 weeks), when feasible.1 However, due to the lack of sufficient data on the potential benefits of delayed clamping in full term infants, some healthcare providers have different opinions. You may want to talk with your healthcare provider about it before delivery.

What do you do with it?

There are really three options available to you when it comes to what to do with your baby’s umbilical cord after delivery:

  1. Save the remaining cord blood, and possibly the tissue, after the cord is clamped
  2. Donate the remaining cord blood to a public bank
  3. Discard the entire umbilical cord as medical waste.

As cord blood and tissue are full of valuable stem cells, you may want to consider saving them. They’re genetically unique to your baby and family, and could someday be used if medically necessary. By working with a company like our partners at ViaCord, you can have your baby’s stem cells collected and preserved so you know that they’re available if ever needed.

Currently, cord blood stem cells can be used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases including certain cancers, blood disorders and genetic diseases.2 There are also exciting research studies being performed in the field of regenerative medicine, using stem cells from a baby’s own cord blood to help with conditions like cerebral palsy3 and autism4. One of the reasons we’ve partnered with ViaCord is their commitment to helping advance this important research.

Cord tissue stem cells aren’t ready for prime time yet, but families are choosing to save them based on their promising future.

Remember the delayed cord clamping we mentioned earlier? Know that if you choose delay clamping you can still collect the cord blood and cord tissue.

Learn more about how your baby’s umbilical cord can help nurture life long after your baby is born. Tap the button below to collect your ViaCord information kit. If you decide to bank your babies cord blood with ViaCord, be sure to use code OVIA150 to save $150.

Get info kit

This ad is brought to you by ViaCord

  • Committee Opinion No. 543: Timing of Umbilical Cord Clamping After Birth. Obstet Gynecol 2012 Dec; 120(6):1522-6. PubMed PMID:23168790.
  • Moise K Jr. Umbilical cord stem cells. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(6):1393-1407.
  • Jessica Sun, MD, Mohamad Mikati, MD, Jesse Troy, PhD, Kathryn Gustafson, PhD, Ryan Simmons, MS, Ricki Goldstein, MD, Jodi Petry, MS, OTR/L, Colleen McLaughlin, DNP, Barbara Waters-Pick, BS, MT(ASCP), Laura Case, PT, DPT, Gordon Worley, MD and Joanne Kurtzberg, MD. “Autologous Cord Blood Infusion for the Treatment of Brain Injury in Children with Cerebral Palsy.” Oral and Poster Abstracts presentation. 57th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition; December 7, 2015; Orlando, FL. Abstract 925.
  • Jessica M. Sun, Joanne Kurtzberg. “Cord blood for brain injury.” Cytotherapy, 2015; 17: 775-785
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