Umbilical Cord Blood Collection

Commercial umbilical cord blood collection refers to a service offered by commercial companies to harvest and store stem cells following family requests even though there may be no medical indication.

A significant number of private companies are now heavily marketing their cord blood services through GP surgeries, antenatal clinics and direct contact with the public. There is a cost and requires a third person to collect umbilical cord blood in the third stage of labour in the provided container. This is then sent to the company for the harvesting and storage of stem cells.

The major clinical use of cord blood has been for life threatening conditions such as cancers of the blood. Cord blood contains the stem cells which are responsible for producing all the blood cells in the body. These cells can be used successfully as an alternative to bone marrow for transplants. Some families are at particular risk from rare inherited disorders. For these women cell banking may provide an easier route to a cell match that may be needed in their family. Under these circumstances arrangements can be made by professionals through the NHS Cord Blood Bank (NHS CBB) for their blood to be collected and stored.

At delivery

If the Clinician feels at any time that cord blood collection maybe detrimental to the wellbeing of the mother or baby the collection service will not be available. Examples of this would be premature birth, Emergency caesarean section or maternal haemorrhage.  There will be no change in how the delivery of the placenta is managed (3rd Stage) and any samples should be only be taken from a delivered placenta.

The responsibility for the quality or quantity of the sample collected or for delays in transportation or storage will lie with the external company providing the service.

If you wish to take the blood yourselves using a DIY kit, midwives will not be able to assist in this procedure. You will be given the delivered placenta as soon as it is practical to do so and the midwife will leave you to manage this procedure independently.

Please confirm with your midwife where you need to dispose of the needles you have used

Policy for Cord Blood Collection for Stem Cells at North Bristol NHS Trust

The Royal College of Midwives (2002) and the Royal College of Obstetricians (2006) do not support the commercial collection of cord blood for low risk families due to the current lack of research evidence to support the procedure. This service of commercial cord blood collection for stem cells for low risk families is therefore not offered at North Bristol NHS Trust. If parents still decide to go ahead with this procedure the maternity unit request that the parents will provide a trained third party to obtain the sample. The advice and training for this should be available from the private company offering the service. When there is medical indication for cord blood collection due to a family history of life threatening conditions such as cancers of the blood, please discuss this with your obstetrician who will be able to refer you appropriately for arrangement and advice of the process for collection. A third party will be requested to be available from them to perform the cord blood collection. The midwife will be unable to assist in this process following your baby’s birth.

For RCOG advice on Cord Blood banking and Storage (RCOG 2006) visit at