A nuchal cord is when the umbilical cord wraps itself around your baby’s neck, and is a side to pregnancy that no one wants to think about.
Not surprising, it is common for mums-to-be to worry about this happening to their little one, but there are a few things you should know before you get too stressed.
How does it happen?
When you think about it, your baby is floating around in water for over nine months. As they move around, the cord can get wrapped around them, especially when they are small and there is plenty of room to move. There isn’t anything that can be done to prevent this happening.
When is it diagnosed?
It’s not usually until the baby’s head starts crowning that the doctor will realise that there is something around it's neck. In most instances they will simply ease it off, but sometimes, if it is wrapped around them more than once, they may ask you to stop pushing while they free your baby.
Will it stop baby getting essential nutrients?
The cord has a jelly-like substance around it called Wharton’s Jelly. This means that it can't be compressed enough to prevent blood flow.
It won't cut off air supply
When your baby is in the womb, they don’t breathe though their nose – the umbilical cord supplies your little one with oxygen. This means that even if the cord does get wrapped around their neck whilst still in the womb, their air supply won’t be cut off.
It’s more common than you realise
It is not unusual for a baby to be born with a nuchal cord, and it is usually fixed by the midwife or doctor simply removing it.
It can be cut before birth
If the cord is wrapped fairly tightly and your baby is in a lot of distress, your doctor or midwife may cut it before they are born. This will mean that the baby will need to be delivered rapidly as they will no longer be getting much-needed oxygen or nutrients.