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Week 30

Aug12

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Weekly Pregnancy Calendar on Alphamom.comYour Baby:

  • Weighs about three pounds and is 17 inches long. Since most full-term babies are between 20 and 22 inches long at 40 weeks’ gestation, your baby will pack on more pounds than inches in the 10 weeks or so.
  • Is starting to get a little crowded in there, but still has room to wiggle and roll and punch and kick.
  • Despite all the movement, it’s still damn near impossible to tell what position your baby is in for sure (head down, breech, transverse, etc.), but it’s also still too early to be worrying about it. MOST babies settle into a head-down position around 36 weeks, and some still manage to flip themselves around after that.

You:

  • May feel like you’re gestating a pissed-off housecat rather than a chubby wittle baby at this point, with some movement and kicks causing ACTUAL PHYSICAL PAIN. Some women experience kicks so sharp and unnerving they mistake them for uterine contractions, even if they’ve already been through pregnancy and labor and should really know better.
  • Some of these women may even write pregnancy guides on the Internet.

Cord Blood Storage
I recently noticed something very odd, something very different about this pregnancy. Over 30 weeks in, and I’ve yet to receive a single solicitation from the cord blood banks. Last time, the emails came at least weekly. Then daily. Then the phone calls started. Offers of free information kits, sweepstakes drawings, $100 off the collection fee, before-you-hang-up-here’s-my-supervisor-with-an-even-better-offer high pressure sales calls.

This time, nothing, save for a half-hearted offer of a brochure at a maternity store.

Cord blood banking, as the name suggests, involves the collection and storage of your newborn’s umbilical cord blood. Tasty, delicious, stem-cell-rich cord blood. These unformed stem cells have the ability to turn into mature blood cells — and could save the life of someone who needs a bone marrow transplant, and possibly other diseases, since stem-cell research remains in its infancy, really. Three years ago, it was heralded as the greatest life insurance policy you could buy for your child and family.

Of course, this policy comes with a steep price tag — anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 for the initial collection, plus a yearly storage fee of at least $100, plus other additional fees that can quickly add up. While many new parents are horrified at the idea of letting a little thing like TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS affect a decision that could SAVE THEIR BABY’S LIFE, it is a lot of money. Let’s put on our calm, rational thinking caps here.

1) Cord-blood banking is generally only recommended for families with a known history of certain diseases, or who already have a relative suffering from such a disease who could benefit from the cells. These diseases include leukemia or lymphoma, aplastic anemia, severe sickle cell anemia, and severe combined immune deficiency. It’s nice to dream about a future where stem cells will be able to wipe out pretty much any disease known to man, but for now, that’s the list.

2) The odds that your baby will actually be able to use his or her own umbilical cord blood are low. Again, this is tempered by the relative “newness” of cord blood banking and transplants, but for now the statistics just don’t exist for patients receiving their own cord blood to prove that it’s better, safer or at all effective. (Some experts point out that a sick baby who receives his or her own stem cells during a transplant could very well just develop the disease all over again.)

3) Stem-cell transplants are generally only done on children and teenagers, since the amount collected at birth is simply too small for most adult transplants. (The larger the person, the more cells are needed for an effective transplant.) C-section deliveries generally yield an even smaller number of usable cells, since the collection usually can’t happen until after the mother’s uterus has been sewn up. If your family has a history of childhood cancers or an older sibling needs a bone marrow transplant, cord-blood collection may be a no-brainer. But parents who are being pitched on banking as a lifelong investment in bionic super health (stem cells can, theoretically, be stored forever) need to know that the window of actual usability is limited by the patient’s age.

4) Another unknown (for now, anyway) is whether or not a cord blood donation from a relative is any better or more effective than one from an unrelated donor, which happens successfully all the time. Stem cells are truly “blank” cells; highly adaptable and at low risk for rejection. Unlike organ transplants, there’s no need for a “perfect” stem cell match for a successful transplant.

5) That said, parents of racially or ethnically diverse children may want to bank cord blood because it IS statistically harder to find a bone marrow match in these cases. The National Marrow Donor Program specifically encourages cord blood donations from the following communities, where there is often a critical shortage of matching marrow donors:

  • Black and African American
  • American Indian and Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic and Latino
  • Multiple race

Donating Cord Blood
And on that note, what about donating your baby’s cord blood? Why, sure! And become a marrow donor yourself, while you’re at it. (It’s easy and painless, done with a single swab of your cheek, full details here.) The full and extensive list of FAQs for cord blood donation can be found here.

It’s important to read and process them all — it’s best to set up your donation by the 34th week of pregnancy, donations from twins and multiples are not accepted, and only about 50% of donations can actually be stored for transplantation because cord blood units do yield such small amounts. However, while the American Academy of Pediatrics believes “storing cord blood as ‘biological insurance’ should be discouraged because there currently is no scientific data to support (self) autologous transplantation,” they DO encourage donating the blood to public banks, both for transplants and research purposes. And no, it costs you nothing to donate your baby’s cord blood, other than a few phone calls to make arrangements before you give birth.

Finished with the Pregnancy Calendar already and want more? Visit Amalah’s postpartum weekly column, Bounce Back. Bounce Back is about the postpartum experience — the good, the bad and the gory.

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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10 Responses to “Week 30”

  1. Sarah Aug 13 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    I’m glad you mentioned cord blood donation. We have been put off by the high cost of banking it, especially since it may never be used, but I am happy to donate it if it can help someone in any way. My doctor is willing to collect it and told me that it is becoming more popular to donate it.

  2. Jenn Aug 13 at 3:41 pm Reply Reply

    On the subject of cord blood, why not let your baby have it? Many doctors will cut the cord while it is still pulsing, thus depriving the baby of the oxygen rich blood they may need in those first few minutes. Then they get vitamin K shots and put them under bilirubin bulbs because they can’t “cope” with life after birth. (Similar to the argument I got with my son about putting him under a heat lamp instead of letting me cuddle him warm. He’s not a cheeseburger people!) Consider if you will and if the circumstances of your birth allow, asking your doctor not to cut the cord until it is done pulsing, thus ensuring your baby gets everything in that cord he/she needs to get off to a good start. Go on and be selfish, that blood belongs to your baby anyway.
    http://www.givingbirthnaturally.com/restricted-umbilical-cord-problems.html

  3. Kristine Aug 13 at 3:41 pm Reply Reply

    We debated about the cord blood banking for my son. It came down to not having the $2000 at the time, but also – I felt like the science behind usage was so new that I wanted to donate it more than have it for him anyway. (All the broshures made it pretty clear that the user was usually a sibling.) And as it turns out it was a non issue because there wasn’t enough to do anything with and they chucked it in the trash.

  4. becca Aug 14 at 1:39 pm Reply Reply

    We donated our daughter’s cord blood, and I am so very glad we did. It was a rather lengthy process, so starting before thirty weeks is probably a good idea. They have to approve you and send you a kit before you deliver. You also have to make sure you read the instructions they send BEFORE labor so that it is all done correctly.

  5. Mom101 Aug 14 at 3:05 pm Reply Reply

    My OB is so infuriated by the entire concept of cord blood banking that she’s begging me to write a post imploring people to donate instead. She informs me that there’s not one case of a child without a strong proclivity for health ever being able to use his own banked blood and having it save his life. In fact, it’s now banned in some European countries as an industry that takes money without actually ever delivering a service in return.
    I need to do more research of course. But thought I’d pass on the cynical pov. Just, you know, to stir the pot.

  6. Keri Aug 15 at 11:20 am Reply Reply

    We donated my daughter’s cord blood. During my pregnancy I had received tons of information about banking the cord blood, but I didn’t receive one bit of information on donating it. The only reason I knew about it was from my L&D nurse. The nurse told me you normally have to fill out the paperwork ahead of time, but we got it done while I was in labor and I’m so glad we did it.

  7. Brittany Aug 15 at 7:59 pm Reply Reply

    Cord Blood banking is soo important! With my son baby #1 we banked his cord blood with Viacord which is the only company that is FDA approved to collect from a C section birth(*which is what I had*), $2000 is a lot but we payed $171 a month for the first year, and then we only pay a one time yearly fee of around $100. For this pregnancy baby #2, we are going to donate it since we already have one banked privately. There are a lot of things that they can do with the cells, uses not mentioned that can be used for both children and adults, are burn victims, nerve damage, and best of all for the heart! In heart attack victims usually only about 50% of the heart comes back to proper working order. When the heart is injected with the cells, it can bring the heart back to 75-95% working order! Which when speaking about your heart is amazing!

  8. Crystal Sep 02 at 7:13 pm Reply Reply

    I found out that I can’t donate my baby’s cord blood because of
    a-my diabetes (it’s the baby’s fault)
    b-my visits to India (3rd world country, and yeah I accidentally drank some water…my bad)
    c-the fact that I had sex with a bisexual guy 4 years ago before I’d met my husband (although I consistently test HIV- and the sexual partner was the most anal-hah!-guy I’d ever met when it came to safe sex)
    The thing that really sucks is that the cord banks are bemoaning their lack of multi-ethnic cord blood, and my daughter is half Asian and half Caucasian.
    I guess I’ll just let the cord stop pulsing then…at least I tried.

  9. kim Nov 18 at 11:53 am Reply Reply

    Ok, cord blood stuff, all very seeerious and all. But can we get down to the nitty gritty? I am 75% done with this pregnancy, people! 75%! yipeee skippee for meeeee!
    (I’m not one of those that enjoys pregnancy, can you tell? This part, though, this time around, not so bad. But still. Only 25% left to go!)

  10. Jess Jul 14 at 2:50 am Reply Reply

    My midwife told me I can wait to let the cord stop pulsating AND still collect and  donate the cord blood. She said that because our son is biracial, his cord blood would be a useful donation. 

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