Nuchal Cords

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Nuchal Cords:

We have all heard the story of “the baby could have died, the cord was around its neck!” or “we had to have a c-section because the cord was around the baby’s neck.”  At CRMC we often get this question: “what happens if the cord is around the baby’s neck!?” in regards to the safety of homebirth and the safety of birth in general. 

It sounds like a scary situation but here is the truth: it happens all the time! The medical term for a cord around the neck is nuchal cord. Nuchal cords happen in about ⅓ of labors and very rarely causes any problems or concerns. “In the largest available data set, in which a tight nuchal cord was documented in 6.6 percent of 219,337 live births, there was no association with adverts neonatal outcome” (Neonatal outcomes following a tight nuchal cord. Jenny E, Andres RL, Christensen RD. J Perinatology.2013; 33(3):231.) We are trained to deal with a cord around the neck, shoulders, belly or any combination of the above. We simply unwrap the cord from around the baby as the head is birthed, as the baby comes out, or even after the baby is born and handed to the parents.

Monet Nicole

Monet Nicole

Babies are active participants in labor and the birth. They spiral through the birth canal to maneuver through the tight spots and do the movements they need, to get through the pelvis. This can sometimes result in them getting tangled in their cord. Thankfully, humans have wise bodies and know that the cord needs some protection! Wharton's Jelly protects and covers the umbilical cord, so there can be some compression; the Wharton’s Jelly cushions the vein (1) and arteries (2) within the umbilical cord.