Baby cuddling a toy next to a stem cell box

One thing to think about adding to your pre-birth shopping list

Hands up if you’ve heard of stem cell collection or stem cell storage? Do you know what it is, how it’s done and why it’s done? I can imagine that if you are reading this post you may know what it is, you may have heard of it, or you may not have heard anything about it.

In a nutshell stem cell storage is where stem cells are taken from the umbilical cord when your child is born, and these are then stored to help protect you, your child and your family against any illnesses should these happen in the future.

I first heard about stem cell collection and stem cell storage when I was pregnant with my daughter back in 2015. It was something I found out about during the hospital open day as it was something that the hospital offered. If it hadn’t have been for that hospital open day with about 400 other people on a really warm summer’s day I would never have known about stem cell storage. So this raises the question does more need to be done to raise awareness to make future parents aware of its benefits? I’m hoping this blog post will help to do just that.

To understand what the general public understood about stem cell storage I asked a question on my Facebook page, and here’s what people knew about the topic:

I really wanted to do stem cell collection but unfortunately the nearest NHS hospital who did it at the time was over 60 miles away. I hope it is more widely available now. Mummy & Moose. 

I wasn’t ever told about it until more recently when discussing with a friend. If I had known about it I would have definitely explored it more as an option! Soph Obsessed

I’ve heard of it and I was keen to find out more, however, I was absolutely adamant that I wanted delayed cord clamping as the benefits for my baby were huge and essential (as it turned out I couldn’t do it but it was something that I would say every parent should do if possible). No one could tell me for sure if stem cell collection could be done after delayed cord clamping but consensus was probably not. Adventures with J. 

I’ve been told about this by my Doula for this pregnancy. I’ve decided to go with Optimal cord clamping instead (which I didn’t know about for my first pregnancy) as I don’t think you can do both? but I do think it’s a good idea. Candy Floss Dreams.

I did it for my 1st and was so happy to be able to do that – on my 2nd we had moved to Wales from England and they didn’t do it in the hospital we were at – I remember feeling really gutted I couldn’t do the same. Anklebiters Adventures.

As you can see there is a mixed response including those who know about it, those who don’t know about it, those who have done it, and those who are slightly confused about whether you can do stem cell collection with delayed cord clamping. So, I’ve teamed up with WideCells to get the facts right.

Cartoon drawing of a scientist communicating the benefits of stem cell collection and storage

Why store and collect stem cells?

It is known that through the collection of stems cells from your umbilical cord, and storage of these, they can be used to treat over 80 diseases including cancers, bone marrow failures, and blood disorders. Stem cells are also in clinical trials for the treatment of heart disease, cerebral palsy, Parkinsons disease and diabetes (to name a few). Just with this list of diseases and illnesses in mind, you can see that the collection of the stem cells is really important and can hugely benefit you and your family.

How are stem cells collected? 

There are two types of stem cells that can be collected: umbilical cord blood and umbilical cord tissue. The umbilical cord blood is collected after the birth of your child from the blood in the umbilical cord and the placenta. It’s this that contains huge number of life-saving stem cells that can be used to treat many illnesses and diseases.

The second type of stem cells can be collected from the umbilical cord tissue, and these are used to repair bone, cartilage and nerves.

To answer any concerns about delayed cord clamping and stem cell collection you can do both. It is recommended that the clamping is not delayed for more than 2 minutes, as after this time the blood may start to clot and this can make collection difficult. If it’s not possible to collect cord blood following delayed clamping, the umbilical cord tissue can be collected for storage.

How are stem cells stored?

There are two types of storage routes: private and public. Private stem cell storage is where the stem cells are held in a reserve for you should your child ever need them in future. They will be a perfect match for your child, and possibly their siblings and maybe for you as parents too. WideCells advocates for both public and private storage, get in touch with them if you want more information.

So you’re interested in private collection? Introducing WideCells….

WideCells is committed to making a difference in the world of family protection and as part of this commitment they are actively seeking ways to educate families and provide the best stem cell service for you.

Their Institute of Stem Cell Technology (ISCT) is driven by scientific knowledge and evidence based clinical practice, which is why they are constantly working with other organisations to carry out research with the hope of bettering people’s lives worldwide.

I hope that this post has helped answer some of your questions on stem cell collection and storage, and has helped to drive awareness. I do think that the topic needs to be talked about more during midwife appointments, and it could be something that is discussed when you have your 20-week scan.

Are you thinking about stem cell collection and storage, or have you done it. If so I would love to hear your thoughts on the process and reasons for storing your stem cells?

Claire x

One thing to think about adding to your pre-birth shopping list

This is a collaborative post with WideCells. 


  • Hayley | Devon Mama

    I started to look into stem cell storage just before my daughter was born, it wasn’t something I’d really heard of before and yet I was blown away by the potential life long benefits. Unfortunately we just ran out of time but I’d definitely consider it if we have another!

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