The Truth About Nuchal Cords (Umbilical Cord Around Baby’s Neck)

The Truth About Nuchal Cords (Umbilical Cord Around Baby’s Neck)

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Soon after you learn that you are having a baby, you will come across a plethora of “pregnancy” terms that you may have never heard of before. And, it is understandable for you to find all these hitherto unknown terms scary. For instance, what is a nuchal cord? Why is it that the fetus’ umbilical cord gets wrapped around his/her neck? What do you do about it? Should you be stressing about it?

At such times, the scariness quotient can be dialed down if you gain just enough information about it. So, whether it is reaching out to your doctor or just doing your own share of internet research, go for it. Here, we will be talking about nuchal cords, associated risks, and everything else that you need to know to be well aware. Stay tuned and keep reading.

What It Is And Some Other Facts About Nuchal Cord

What It Is And Some Other Facts About Nuchal Cord

Image: Shutterstock

A nuchal cord is a medical condition in which the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the neck of the fetus completely, which essentially means a total 360 degrees turn. It is said to be quite common during pregnancy as per the data, which says that the incidences are nearly 12 percent for 24 to 26 weeks gestational period. And, it is about 37 percent for the full-term expecting moms (1).

So, when the umbilical cord wraps itself around the neck, the loop that is formed is referred to as the nuchal cord. Essentially, the term nuchal refers to the back of one’s neck or the nape (2).

One of the main functionalities of the umbilical cord is to carry both oxygen and nutrients to the baby within the expecting mother’s womb. And, the nuchal cord may interrupt this flow between the mom and the baby, thus, resulting in complications. Fortunately, in most cases, it resolves on its own prior to the delivery. But, in case there is any concern pertaining to the enlargement of the cord, the doctors themselves will suggest you to opt for the Cesarean delivery instead. So, even in cases where it doesn’t resolve, chances of any potential problem occurring is quite low (3).

Causes, Diagnosis, And Treatment (4)

Facts About Nuchal Cord

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You are more likely to have a nuchal cord if:

  • you are giving birth to multiple babies
  • there is excessive amniotic fluid
  • there is an especially long cord
  • the cord’s structure is poor

There is no way to steer away from nuchal cords as it is rarely ever caused by anything that an expecting mom does. But, fortunately, nuchal cords are mostly never dangerous. That is why there is no observable symptom that you can look out for. There are almost no changes in the pregnancy symptoms due to the presence of a nuchal cord. But, one can diagnose it with the help of an ultrasound, although it is quite tough to detect.

Additionally, the healthcare providers will only be able to detect the nuchal cord, but they won’t be able to determine whether it poses any complications or risks. But, what is important to remember is that even if you are diagnosed with a nuchal cord, don’t get worked up. There are chances that the cord may unravel on its own before the delivery. Otherwise, the healthcare professionals will continue to carefully monitor throughout the labor to ensure smooth delivery.

Also, there is no way that one can treat a nuchal cord or even prevent it. So, nothing really can be done until the delivery to resolve the issue. Health professionals mostly check if the baby has a cord around his/her neck. And, if there is, all they generally do is simply slip it off the neck during delivery so that it doesn’t interfere with the little one’s breathing once he/she starts to breathe.

In most of the cases, the nuchal cord does resolve on its own. But, even if it doesn’t, your doctors are well equipped to deal with such a scenario. So, don’t get all worked up. Everything is going to be just alright. Good luck, ladies!

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