By Nikki, Pure Matters

This month is National Cord Blood Awareness Month. So, what exactly is cord blood? The Cord Blood Registry (CBR) states, “Cord blood is the blood that remains in your newborn’s umbilical cord after birth. Cord blood is an invaluable source of a pristine type of stem cell that can be used in a variety of medical treatments.”

When I was pregnant with my first child my husband and I did a lot of research about the benefits of banking her cord blood. We decided that it was similar to having an insurance policy. You hope you never need it, but if you do, it’s there for the taking. Just having that peace of mind was ultimately the factoring decision.

There is another alternative for those not interested or able to bank their child’s cord blood: donate it. The blood collected from the umbilical cord can be donated to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a life-threatening disease. Donating is free, painless and could save someone’s life. Here’s more information if you’re interested in learning more.

Now we are expecting baby number two and are contemplating banking his blood as well. Are you trying to decide whether or not to bank? Here are some common reasons the CBR gives as to why parents ultimately make the decision:

Doctor recommendation
Doctors and medical experts realize the power of newborn stem cells and are recommending family banking to their patients.

History of family illness
Cord blood is used today to treat many life-threatening diseases including leukemia, certain other cancers, and blood, immune, and metabolic disorders. Your baby’s cord blood could be a valuable medical resource for your family.

Therapies in Development
Current clinical trials are using cord blood in treatments for conditions that can’t be predicted based on a family history of disease—like brain injury and acquired hearing loss. For many parents, the future potential of newborn stem cells is a compelling reason to bank.

Concern about finding a donor match
Ethnic minorities and people of mixed race are at risk of not finding a match using a public bank. Although family banking does not guarantee a match, saving for all of your children increases the likelihood that they may be able to help each other.

Adopting a newborn or using donor egg/sperm
When adopting or using donor egg or sperm, you may not have access to a biologically related family member. If your child needs stem cell treatments in the future, banking could be especially valuable.

If you decide to bank your baby’s blood there are a few different companies that will do it so I recommend talking to your mommy friends about who they used and liked. The company sends you a kit to bring with you to the hospital. You give the kit to your nurse and the blood will be collected just after birth. A short time later a representative from the bank will pick up the kit, however you won’t even realize it because the hospital staff will take care of that for you while you’re enjoying your new baby!