It is interesting to consider the two natures of the umbilical cord. On one hand it is a major supply channel to a developing baby, and on the other hand it can be something that causes a lot of trouble and harm.
Anyone planning on becoming pregnant or currently pregnant should take the time to learn about the umbilical cord and the problems it can cause. Awareness is a very empowering and simply understanding the different problems that an umbilical cord might cause will be extremely useful.
What Is the Umbilical Cord?
It is imperative to learn what the umbilical cord does. It is a cord that runs from the placenta to the baby. It provides oxygen, blood, and nutrients. It also takes away wastes, and it is crucial to survival and development.
When a baby is born, parents are asked if they want to “cut the cord”. This is done to disconnect the baby from the placenta – which is something the baby no longer needs to survive. The cord will eventually dry up and fall away, leaving behind our navel or “belly button”.
With such an important job, it seems terrifying to think that many things can go wrong with the umbilical cord. However, almost any of the problems the umbilical cord may cause can be remedied. The key is to act fast to prevent any harm or damage from being done by that cord.
Common umbilical cord problems include:
Prolapse – During childbirth, an umbilical cord can get ahead of the baby and drop through the cervix. The contractions occurring will put too much pressure on the cord, which can also get wrapped around the baby’s body and become even more compressed. Should any of these things happen, it can cut off oxygen and blood to the baby and create such long-term conditions as brain damage, cerebral palsy, and even death. Proleapse happen often in breech deliveries and premature births and when the cord is too long or there is too much amniotic fluid which can cause birth injury.
Nuchal – This is a term used to describe a cord that has wound around the baby’s neck and it happens in a surprising 30% of births. It can happen for a lot of reasons, but is found mostly in males, twins, overly large babies, breech babies, and in women with too much amniotic fluid.
Knots and strictures – Knots and twists in cords are difficult to detect and can lead to a lot of harm. Knots are really a threat during delivery and often go undetected beforehand. Strictures are quite deadly because they are difficult to detect and are a frequent cause of fetal death before the second trimester.
Cysts – It is not known just how or why an umbilical cord will develop cysts, but when they appear they must be removed or they tend to cause birth defects.
These issues tend to all come with subsequent health problems or issues as well. Birth injuries are a frequent result of an umbilical cord problem, and this is why it is so important for a woman to have regular checkups. Most umbilical cord problems can be detected at some point, and even remedied before they can cause harm. The key is to have regular imaging done and for the condition of the baby and the cord to be closely monitored.
If a condition is serious enough, doctors can often catch it with imaging and perform a cesarean section if the problem cannot be alleviated before natural, vaginal birth. This can eliminate risks and allow both mother and baby a safe and healthy delivery.
- Nature.com. Umbilical Cord Stricture. 2004. http://www.nature.com/jp/journal/v24/n1/full/7211015a.html