Some parents may worry that having a C-section (planned, elective or emergency) will inhibit their ability to collect cord blood. To make matters worse, some cord blood banks play off this fear to promote their own product as a superior choice. To be clear: Collecting cord blood following a Cesarean birth is essentially the same as collecting cord blood during a vaginal delivery. In fact, some aspects of collecting cord blood following a C-Section may surprise you:
Cesarean Births Collect More Cord Blood
More than 30% of deliveries in the U.S. are by Cesarean section
It is falsely believed by some that deliveries via Cesarean section more often result in less cord blood being collected. Logically, it makes sense. The OB–GYN performing the operation must complete the procedure and less time may be spent on collecting the cord blood. Despite this claim, studies show that C-sections more often collect more cord blood than their vaginal counterparts.
Some researchers speculate that C-sections may collect more cord blood because the baby is raised higher above the placenta following delivery. As noted in our myths on delayed cord clamping, following a C-section, the blood volume in the infant increases till 40 seconds and actually decreases thereafter. It’s also been shown that the mobilization of more stem cells during situations of infant distress that may call for an emergency C-section can lead to the collection of a higher number of stem cells from the cord blood.
It is Best to Collect with the Placenta in Utero
Researchers have also looked at whether it was better to collect cord blood before or after placental delivery in Cesareans. It was found that an in-utero collection of cord blood after cesarean delivery increased the chance that more cord blood would be collected.
Cord Blood Collection Bags are Built with Cesareans in Mind
Up till the early 2000s, cord blood was drawn out of the umbilical cord via syringe. This allowed the blood to be collected easily whether a C-section or vaginal delivery. In the early 2000s, cord blood banks started to capture the blood inside a bag, but in the beginning, the bags were not sterile. This meant that a long tube needed to be strung from the sterile field of a C-section to the non-sterile collection bag. Thankfully, non-sterile collection bags lasted only a few years before cord blood banks moved to sterile collection bags.
The early years of collecting in a bag has led to the stigma that the cord blood collection bags are not designed for Cesarean births, but since the mid-2000s, this simply isn’t true. The current sterile FDA-approved collection bags allow the cord blood to be collected in the surgical area.