The Umbilical Cord

I’ve gotten several hits on my blog about this subject, so thought I might as well go in depth with this a bit more.

The umbilical cord is what connects the baby to the mother. Soon after conception, the baby (embryo may be the “correct” term for this stage of development) burrows into the lush uterine lining, and part of the embryo becomes the placenta while the rest of it becomes the baby, inside the amniotic sac. The placenta grows along with the baby, and although the mother’s and baby’s blood never mix, the placenta is where the oxygen and waste exchange happens–the mother’s circulatory system gives the baby oxygen and nutrients while taking away the baby’s carbon dioxide and waste.

Generally, there are no problems with this wonderful system; but occasionally, the placenta does not grow very big, or the umbilical cord can develop a knot, or wrap around the baby. Many home-birthing midwives will testify that maternal nutrition plays a vital role in a well-developed placenta, which only makes sense–“you are what you eat.” Check out The Brewer Diet for more information on a healthful diet. The umbilical cord can develop a knot if the baby moves through a loop in the umbilical cord. This happens very early in pregnancy, when the baby has ample room in the womb for these free movements; later, the baby is much more squished in the confines of the uterus. Most of the time, a knot is not a problem, but a “true knot” can actually be so tight that it compromises blood flow through the umbilical cord to the baby. This is extremely rare, and usually cannot be known before birth.

Probably what most people worry about when it comes to umbilical cords is that they will be wrapped around the baby’s neck. This is called a “nuchal” cord (from the Latin word for “neck”). This is much more common, occurring in up to 20% of all births, but only rarely causes problems. My first son, for example, had the cord wrapped around his neck once, and the midwife couldn’t get it off before his body was fully born, but the cord was kept intact and my baby had no problems whatsoever. In fact, I did not even know it had happened until a few years later when I was looking through my copy of the birth records. What might cause problems is if the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck and cuts off or diminishes circulation to the baby’s brain either in utero or as the baby is being born. But again, this is rare. 

The typical response to a nuchal cord is to unloop it from the baby’s neck after the head is born and prior to full birth if at all possible; and if it’s too tight, to cut the cord and unwind it. (The cord will be clamped in two places, and the cut will be made between, to minimize blood loss to the baby, and mess on the floor from the placenta side of the cord.) Some birth attendants will instead “somersault” the baby out of the birth canal, keeping the baby’s head close to the mother’s body. This allows the baby to be born while still keeping the cord intact (occasionally, a nuchal cord might prevent the baby from coming out because it makes the cord too short). With the baby fully out, the cord can then be unwound from the baby’s neck or body, thus allowing the full amount of oxygen that sustained the baby inside to keep coming to the baby on the outside, while he makes his transition to breathing.

It may be possible to identify a nuchal cord with ultrasound, but there are some considerations you should have. First, most nuchal cords do not cause problems. There are fetal tests that can be done if a nuchal cord is suspected or known that can reassure you as to fetal well-being (including you doing “kick-counts” to make sure your baby is moving adequately). Second, ultrasound is not 100% reliable, and you have to judge the benefits vs. risks of this or any other procedure. And finally is a story one of my online friends shared with me (she is a doula at a birth center, as well as childbirth educator). A couple discovered via ultrasound that their baby had a nuchal cord (after the woman was at term, but prior to onset of labor). The woman was terrified of the baby strangling herself, so she decided to have a C-section right then. The birth center offered to keep her overnight and continue to monitor the baby, and let her see that the baby was just fine, but she was too scared to accept. Within a couple of hours, she had had the C-section, and the doctor said there was no nuchal cord. Babies move in utero; they twist and turn. It is easily understandable that the baby could wrap herself up in the cord, and then unwrap herself just as easily.

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93 Responses

  1. Thank you for this umbilical cord primer!! I wish more mothers would read this. I have to tell you… I recently attended a birth where the doctor made me really, really angry. Baby emerged with a tight nuchal cord, which as you say is rarely a problem. But the doc looked at me (the nursery RN) and right in FRONT of the parents said, “I’m going to need you to take the baby straight to the warmer because she’ll need to be resuscitated.” Ohhh… I got so angry. Not only did she say this in front of the parents, but she also deprived this mother of having her infant placed directly on her abdomen. And of course the baby was fine and let out a nice holler right away. Shaking my head…

  2. Thanks for your comment on my first entry! I feel a lot less bewildered now that I’ve been able to spill the beans to a few people. I’m still oscillating between giddiness and total non-excitement. I’ve browsed through a few of your entries here, and I like what I see. I think I’ll keep looking.

  3. We had a UC with 2 true knots – they didn’t even tighten into recognizable knots until after the baby was born. (our babies tend to have very long umbelical cords) – just to throw out there a personal example of true knots being nothing more than a conversation piece as part of a normal labor.

    • I am a grieving mother, just lost my 36 weeks baby due to knot in umbilical cord. I was seen at the doctors office on 3/09/2010 and baby was doing fine, She was breathing, had hiccups that day, heart beat was 134. They told me that a sonagram can’t show any knots in umbilical cord.

      • I’m so sorry for your loss! Thank you for taking the time to comment and add your knowledge.

      • I am so sorry for your loss. You must be devastated beyond words. My beautiful granddaughter, Roberta Rae, was born still at 36.3 weeks due to torsion of her umbilical cord. My daughter in law had the classic signs of a baby in distress on several occasions and was told she was fine. I am an RN and my husband is an ER Physician. We thought stillbirth was something that happened during delivery when there was a problem. Why should we think any different? The medical community had hidden the truth and frequency of stillbirth from us all.

        Moms need to be proactive with their little ones. Kick counts are a must, increased or decreased fetal movements, as well as, an increase in hiccups are a sign your baby could be in distress. An ultrasound at 28 weeks to visualize the umbilical cord and placenta should be mandatory. Yes, babies can get in and out of knots, but 26,000 stillbirths a year in the USA alone ~ 4 million worldwide is a definite cause for alarm. 30% of stillbirths are Umbilical Cord Accidents (UCA). Babies can be fetally monitored at home and potential cord problems followed if found during the last trimester of their pregnancy, hence the 28 weeks ultrasound. Check out the work of Dr. Jason Collins of The Pregnancy Institute in New Roads, LA. Trust your gut and be your baby’s advocate…

      • SORRY FOR YOUR LOST…… I JUST LOST MY SON I WAS 25 1/2 weeks and i am still in shock my baby was moving just mins before i didn’t feel any at all.

      • i so dont’ know how bad u are feeling i can only say i attended my neices son’s funeral yesterday he too was just weeks from being brought into our world and would have made a differrence in his families life that was unmeasurable.. i can say i have watched the young parents grief and held thier son and kissed his little forhead and cried alot of tears as well, now i need more information on how this can happen, mother was a diabetic with ultrasounds being done weekly and absolute perfect pregnancy and and an unforgetable face of her little Jack… this just breaks my heart …i have 3 children of my own and a healthy grandaughter so i really can’t say i know ur pain but i have seen it… i hope u can find peace

      • I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my little boy Braden at 38 weeks. He had a knot in his cord and it was wrapped around his neck four times. A few days before he stopped moving, so I went to the hospital. His hearbeat was almost 160, which was high for him. It had run about 130. The nurse said it was fine. I saw my dr. a few days later and his hearbeat was still high but he said it was ok. My bp was up so he ordered a biophysical profile the next day. The technition acted odd and soon my dr. came in to tell me he was gone. My first son also had a knot in his cord and it was wrapped around his neck once, but he was ok after an emercency c-section. I’m so scared that it could happen again. I really want to know if they can see this on ultrasounds. My dr. said I would have to be monitored closely if I tried again. I just lost him in June so I know how incredibly hard it is to move on from this. I know I couldn’t handle going through it again.

      • I, too am grieving mother. After 16 years of try, I finally got pregnant in June 2011. At 24 weeks and 1 day, everything was perfect with all my sonograms, endocrinologist visits, high risk visits, etc.

        On Monday morning (11/28/2011) around 7:45 AM, I felt my baby move before my 1:30PM (same day) sonogram appt. I got to the dr.s appt only to be told that the baby had no heartbeat – the baby is ‘dead’. I was so devastated. The doctors recommended that they perform D&C same evening (11/28/2011) but being in the state of denial, I decided to go home in hopes that the baby’s heart will start working again. So, I decided to go to the nearest Emergency Room of which the doctors from the daytime appt. (OB GYN) were not amused. They’d asked me to go to another hospital.

        I finally mastered the courage and went to the hospital for the procedure. I was heavily induced but only dilated 2 cm in about 23 hours – thanks for epidural, I felt very little pain when dilating every 2-4 minutes. The worse part was that the baby was breached (head was up) and was prepared to come out with legs first.

        They finally decided to do a C-Section, only to be found out that the baby had just died, perhaps few minutes/hours before my appt. She died of umbilical twist/umbilical knot.

        The baby was SO GORGEOUS, SO BEAUTIFUL and so innocent looking and decided to name her Chole. My heart is so heavy and hope to be able to live. I also pray that I am able to get pregnant again.

        Good luck to moms who share similar experience and story.

        • I, too am grieving mother. After 16 years of try, I finally got pregnant in June 2011. At 24 weeks and 1 day, everything was perfect with all my sonograms, endocrinologist visits, high risk visits, etc.

          On Monday morning (11/28/2011) around 7:45 AM, I felt my baby move before my 1:30PM (same day) sonogram appt. I got to the dr.s appt only to be told that the baby had no heartbeat – the baby is ‘dead’. They confirmed that the baby had just died, perhaps few minutes/hours before my appt.

          I was so devastated. The doctors recommended that they perform D&C same evening (11/28/2011) but being in the state of denial, I decided to go home in hopes that the baby’s heart will start working again. So, I decided to go to the nearest Emergency Room of which the doctors from the daytime appt. (OB GYN) were not amused. They’d asked me to go to another hospital.

          I finally mastered the courage and went to the hospital for the procedure. I was heavily induced but only dilated 2 cm in about 23 hours – thanks for epidural, I felt very little pain when dilating every 2-4 minutes. The worse part was that the baby was breached (head was up) and was prepared to come out with legs first.

          They finally decided to do a C-Section on 11/30/2011 only to find out that she died of umbilical cord twist/umbilical knot.

          The baby was SO GORGEOUS, SO BEAUTIFUL and so innocent looking and decided to name her Chole. My heart is so heavy and hope to be able to live. I also pray that I am able to get pregnant again.

          Good luck to moms who share similar experience and story.

        • hi, I am 25 years of age. I had almost the same experience. It was supposed to be my first baby. On my second and third month of pregnancy, I was admitted to the hospital. The doctor said I have a UTI. I was medicated and the doctor says that the baby was just fine. After another month, I was a bit worried because I don’t feel like my womb is getting bigger. Although some says that it is normal to have a small womb because it is my first pregnancy. When I had my 4th month prenatal, the doctor was not able to trace the baby’s heartbeat through a Doppler, she advised me to have an ultrasound on April 10, 2012. I was a bit worried but I was positive that my baby is just fine. The ultrasound result was positive and was able to trace my baby’s heartbeat. I felt relief when I knew the result of my ultrasound. I was happy that my baby is ok. However, on April 17, I was able to see one very small blood dot along with my white blood. I was worried but I observed it if there will be another spotting. There were no another spotting occurred during that day. I asked my mother about it and she said that is OK. The next day was just fine. I did not observe any spotting. However, on the third day after my spotting, I observed the same scenario. A small spotting happened again. I rushed to the hospital to see a doctor since my obgyne is out of town. The doctor was not able to trace again the baby’s heartbeat through a Doppler so she also advised me to take another ultrasound. I followed the doctor but I was already worried since the same thing happened and I already had 4 ultrasound in total. I was also confused on why the ultrasounds result on my baby’s age is decreasing instead of increasing. My 2nd month and 2nd ultrasound result, the baby is at 18 weeks. After another month of ultrasound, my third ultrasound where my obgyne was not able to trace my baby’s heartbeat, the baby’s age is only at 19 weeks instead of 23 weeks on actual. The substitute doctor was somehow confused of the results of my ultrasound reports. She told me to get back at her when I will have my ultrasound result. When I was having my ultrasound, I was expecting my baby to move however, I did not see any movement. I thought my baby is just sleeping. Then the sonologist told me that the baby is dead. there are no fetal movements nor heartbeat which is the first that is traced bu the ultrasound. She further added explanations on proving to me that the baby was dead. I was so frustrated and it was too painful to me to know that my baby was gone. I cried day and night. My husband decided to have the baby induced. When I had my baby delivered, the doctor said it was supposed to be a baby girl and the reason of her death is the twisted umbilical cord. She was not able to explain nor know what are the reasons of the twisted umbilical cord. I was not given a D&C since the baby was spontaneously delivered. Is that OK? I am so worried that I will not get pregnant again or if I will, I am scared the same thing will happen. I really want to know why it happened but I entrust everything to God and to his mercy and guidance, I am able to cope up. I am very hopeful to have a healthy baby soon.

          • I would seek further clarification about the “twisted umbilical cord”. Umbilical cords are supposed to be twisted and coiled, though perhaps somehow your daughter’s cord got twisted too much, or became knotted and cut off the blood supply.

            • the umbilical cord was twisted too much and the doctor said, the baby was not able to have food and oxygen. The umbilical cord nearly connected to baby’s stomach is very small and the portions of umbilical cord are twisted that it does not allow to supply food to the baby.
              Will I be OK that I was not given a D&C by the doctor? Will this affect my fertility and my future baby? Thank you.

              • A D&C is usually only necessary to empty the uterus completely if nature doesn’t take its course — for instance, it is used after childbirth if the entire placenta doesn’t deliver (“retained placenta”), in the case of incomplete or “missed” miscarriages (when the baby dies but the miscarriage process either doesn’t start at all, or as sometimes happens after childbirth — not all of the pregnancy tissue comes out); it’s also used in some forms of induced abortion. When part of the pregnancy tissue stays in the uterus, the body doesn’t recognize that it is no longer pregnant, and keeps sending a large blood supply to the uterus; then, since you are not actually pregnant, the blood just flows out of you like a heavy period. As long as your uterus emptied itself of all “products of conception” (i.e., the baby, amniotic sac, placenta, etc.), then a D&C is not necessary. [When I had a very early miscarriage, I asked a midwife friend what I should look for, to know whether everything was proceeding normally or if I needed to seek medical attention, and she said that if the bleeding was heavy and/or lasted longer than a week, then I should go to a doctor, but if it was like a period and stopped within 7 days, that was a sign that there was a complete miscarriage. I don’t know how it might be different with a later miscarriage, but I would think that it would be similar, though perhaps the bleeding might be heavier and/or take longer, since you had more time to build up a thicker uterine lining to support the pregnancy.]

                If your bleeding was normal and has stopped, then there is no need for a D&C; and actually, undergoing a D&C can lead to uterine scarring and something called Asherman’s Syndrome, which may impair your future fertility. So, if you can avoid a D&C, that’s actually better for your fertility. If you have a missed miscarriage or retained products of conception, then, yes, that can interfere with your immediate health and/or future fertility and undergoing a D&C in that case has more benefits than risk, but most of the time when women miscarry they do so with no problems, and nature completes the miscarriage without a need for medical intervention. It sounds like this is what happened in your case.

      • I am sorry for your loss.
        My wife pregnancy was perfect.
        Our baby did not have any problem until examination by OB nurse. She went to far and reached behind baby’s head. HR start to drop from 130’s to 90’s. Another nurse came and pushed baby back. My wife fainted. HR went to 0. We waited about 17 minutes to sign stupid consent for Emergency C-section. From little after 10 am being at the hospital baby was delivered at 11;47 am via C-section. First heart beat were noted after 38 minutes and than they started resuscitation effort. Now our baby is terminally ill. Severe HIE, Blind, deaf, G-tube, Trache, seizures. We are suffering emotionally and financially. Hospital did not put everything in their flow-sheet. It is hard to prove case and so far 3 attorneys were not interested to take the case. We are about to loose our house, $50,000 in debt. HELL not a life.
        God bless you all.

      • My granddaughter was still born on 3/30. She was healthy and doing great. She died because of a knot the size of a walnut. We are devastated! A pregnant woman should be given a heart monitor. There was nothing that could be done to save her.

  4. I just found out today that at 34 weeks, my baby has the cord wrapped around her neck. They couldn’t determine if it was twice or three times. I’m trying to take it all in stride. A fan of internet know-how, I’ve been searching for info and found this blog to be the most comforting and seemingly informative. My doc simply told me to keep monitoring the kicks and getting my twice weekly ultrasounds (because I’m AMA… Advanced Maternal Age) and to get an amnio test scheduled to see how developed the lungs were, then maybe induce. Me? I’m crossing my fingers (and meditating) that she’s just accessorizing early and will soon be tired of her new necklace and therefor unwrap herself by the next ultrasound. Oh and I’m drinking tons of water to increase the fluids around her so she’ll have more room to unwrap. That’s my own reasoning on that one. Nothing scientific. I will say, be wary of what you may read online. I’m sticking w/the actual medical studies done on the subject and avoiding any Henny Penny posts telling people to flip out and go in for a c-sect immediately.

  5. Hi, we just found out that our baby (around 4 months in pregnancy) has a non-coiled
    umbilical cord. Dr. told us that we have returned to do ultrasounds every month and
    kept to monitor baby’s growth (or not). I tried my best to look for information about
    this issue but little was found. I really appreciate what you may help us.

    • Hi, my name is Silvana and i lost my baby at 32 weeks 3 months ago. Her umbilical cord was straight. Everything was normal during the pregnancy. I´m from Argentina and here doctors don´t consider riskes about straight cords (they didn´t tell me anything that the cord was uncoiled). I would like to know if you have more information about this and if with a doppler can doctors see the cord twist in future.
      than you

      • Silvana,

        I’m so sorry for your loss!

        It is possible to see from an ultrasound if the umbilical cord is straight or coiled; although it might not be visible in every ultrasound (perhaps the position of the baby, or the skill of the doctor, or the accuracy of the machine may affect it).

        Not every baby with a straight cord ends up with problems or dying in utero, although they are at a higher risk of having a problem; so even if it happens in a subsequent pregnancy, that does not mean there is definitely something wrong with the baby. You can look through some of the other comments on this post to see links I found on the subject.

        • thank you Katty, can i make you another question? Do you know how often a baby has a straight umbilicard cord?
          thank you again !

  6. I was not familiar with this condition, so had to look it up. Here are some things I found. This study showed a higher risk of fetal anomalies and stillbirth when the fetus had a non-coiled umbilical cord; however, the majority of babies were perfectly fine. The causes of a straight umbilical cord are not well understood — it is believed that coiling is caused at least in part by fetal activity, so a baby who doesn’t move as much will have a straight cord. Even though blood flow through the cord does not seem to be compromised with external pressures (such as what happens during labor) in either straight or coiled umbilical cords, since fetal distress is more common in babies with a straight cord, it may be advisable to have continuous monitoring during labor, to be able to take steps quickly should the baby become distressed. It seems that avoiding an induction of labor and/or augmenting labor may also help avoid fetal distress, since these agents can cause fetal distress in normal babies. You may want to ask your doctor if there have been any safety studies done on these medicines with babies that have straight cords.

    This webpage has some pictures as well as information on “abnormal cord coiling” and says that the cord coiling index is “virtually impossible to assess [prenatally], so most of the following data have been collected retrospectively.” This may be a large part of the reason why there is little information — the data is hard to collect prenatally. (Below this information are some pictures of cords that have a lot of coils on them — hyper-coiled cords — which provides a sharp contrast to the pictures of the straight cords.)

    This website has a good synopsis of this condition. Among other things, it says that a straight cord may become coiled later in pregnancy, so it may be a good idea to check the state of the baby’s umbilical cord in any future ultrasound you have, to see if your baby’s cord becomes coiled. Several things have also said that maternal health seems to play a role in this — higher rates of non-coiled umbilical cords have been noted with maternal conditions such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

    Your doctor is recommending monthly ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s growth; this is because IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) is more common in babies with straight cords. However, I will point out this study, which demonstrated that frequent ultrasounds led to higher rates of IUGR. Although the study’s authors said it was possibly due to chance, “it is also plausible that frequent exposure to ultrasound may have influenced fetal growth.” What I would do in this case would be to ask the doctor what information he hopes to gain from frequent ultrasounds, and what differences that information would make in my care. Also, I would ask if there are any other ways he could get this information without these tests. For example, will measuring the uterus from the pubic bone to the fundus demonstrate that the baby is still growing? If the baby isn’t growing from 4-5 months or from 5-6 months, what will he do? If there is something that can be done to help the baby at that point, then knowing this information will be valuable. If, however, there is nothing that can improve the rate of baby’s growth (and ultrasounds may possibly hurt it), and the doctor wouldn’t suggest an early birth until 7 or 8 months along, then how can it help to know the estimated fetal weight at 5 or 6 months? There may be something your doctor can do, so these are not just rhetorical questions.

    One of the above-mentioned websites suggested testing the baby’s lungs for maturity at 37 weeks. This is because of the higher rate of fetal demise, with the obvious implication of inducing labor or having a C-section if the baby’s lungs are mature, to avoid the higher risk of stillbirth that happens with babies with straight cords.

    While this information may be unsettling, to know that babies with straight umbilical cords are at higher risk for certain problems, I like to look on the positive side of things, and focus on the fact that most babies with straight cords are perfectly fine. While there are some known risk factors and reasons for babies to have straight cords, the majority of the cases are of unknown reasons.

  7. sir my wife went for check up and scanning
    detected for unblicical cord around the neck
    36 week, baby is healthy
    suggestion needed from you sir
    iam from india chennai

    Current research shows that 20% of all babies have cords around their necks at birth. Most of the time this is no problem; sometimes it can be a problem. Right now, ultrasounds cannot tell when it is or is not a problem. If the baby is fine, then I would suggest watchful waiting. If you or your wife are concerned, you can have more ultrasounds to make sure everything is still good with the baby.

    Your wife can also count the baby’s kicks to make sure the baby continues to be active. While babies tend to decrease in movement leading up to the birth, they should still kick frequently. Not enough fetal movement can be an indication of something being wrong. I don’t want to scare you, but friends of mine lost their baby before birth because the umbilical cord was wrapped too tightly around the baby’s neck. She noticed less movement from the baby but was not concerned. Again, most of the time nuchal cords (umbilical cords around the neck) are not a concern, but it would be wise to make sure the baby is active and possibly to have another ultrasound to see if it might be a problem. If it seems to be a problem (the baby isn’t moving enough, or the heartbeat is too slow or something), then it might be better to induce or have a C-section — your doctor will advise you on that.


  8. hi everyone .My name jane .My baby was stillbirth last year .I find out from the report ,my cord was too short ,that time about 9 month ,the baby less moving ,I was not concerned .I want to say when you prengcy after 5,6 month ,you have to count baby moving ,make sure the baby is fine .

  9. hi ,If someone prengcy after 5 or 6 month ,doctor can find out the cord is too long or too short by ultrasound ?thank you help me .

    I did find one article that said it is possible to find out by ultrasound that the cord is short; but most studies that look at the incidence of the cord being short are done after the baby is born. It is probably one of those things the doctor will have to specifically look for, and not something that he will just notice. A short cord is usually not a problem, but babies with short cords are more likely to have various problems. The idea is that the more active the baby is, the longer the cord becomes; and babies with certain problems (including genetic defects) are less active, which leads to the cord being short.

  10. Thanks for the information. Just for another example, my second son was born healthy and happy at a birth center with the cord wrapped around his neck four times. That was the first all of the attendants had seen with so many, but the cord was long enough to compensate. My labor was slow going (20 hours at 8cm), so we checked the baby’s heartbeat often. He took his time, but never waivered and it all worked out great.
    I have a question though – I am now 15 weeks pregnant with my third. I only feel movement on my left side and I was wondering if the umbilical cord could be to short for the baby to be getting to the other side. Does the cord grow throughout pregnancy?

    My understanding is that the cord does continue to lengthen as the baby gets bigger — just as the baby and placenta grow from near-microscopic to weigh several pounds at birth, so the umbilical cord gets bigger and longer too. It may be that you are just a little more sensitive on one side than the other. Fifteen weeks is pretty early for you to feel movement, so if you didn’t feel movement at all, that would be pretty normal (most first-timers don’t feel it until around 18-20 weeks, although women who have had more than one do tend to feel “quickening” earlier). I don’t think it’s a reason for concern that you can only feel it in one spot.

  11. hi… i’ve just experienced to lose my 8 month pregnancy baby two weeks ago.. for having a “true knot” that caused to cut/prevent the blood and oxygen to reach the baby … i was visiting the doctor for the regular check the night before and “i” noticed a slow heartbeat for my baby and told the doctor about it but he said its normal after hearing it! he just asked if the movement is fine and i told him yes (as i got used to his movements) but after leaving i was very concerned and watched carefully if the movement is really fine.. but it wasn’t!..the next morning there was no movement and went to have the ultrasound when i found that there is no heartbeat!!!… i had the c-section with my born still baby!!… it was very hard for me.. the dr. showed me the “true knot” on his camera after that! it was the same as the one in the picture here on this site..

    i wanted to ask if it was the doctors mistake or me??! he didn’t see this true knot in the ultrasound when i first visited him.. should he see it before that or not? and he could have done something when i heard the slow heartbeats??… or is it me who should have noticed the less movements of my baby??? but the last check before this one everything was just fine and the baby was moving very well… i don’t know does this happen through this 3 weeks .. could the knot get tighten through this short period???

    please reply… thanx

    • my neice had the same experience last week and we had our handsome little jacks funeral yesterday someone has to be responsible in this..we have technology my niece is diabetic and had weekly untrasounds if the knot happened early shoudlnt’ they have noticed it..god love u women who lose ur children i cant think of a worse situation and i held little jack and kissed him he looked so perfect …i can’t help but think could more have been done to save his life

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss!

    It is *possible* sometimes to see a knot in the umbilical cord by ultrasound, but there may be many factors that would make it difficult or impossible to see. First, I would think that the doctor would have to look for one along the entire length of the umbilical cord, and it may not be possible to see the whole thing — for instance, if the cord is wrapped around the baby’s body, and the knot is behind him; or it may be that the picture is just not clear enough to see. Many times it is not known until birth that there was a knot in the cord. Also, not all knots are dangerous — I’ve heard several stories of babies born with true knots that were not problematic — but if a cord was visible by ultrasound, I would want to pay close attention to it. (Here is a link to a study which talks about how difficult a prenatal diagnosis of umbilical cord knots are:

    In general, for the cord to get tied in a knot or for the cord to get wrapped around the baby’s neck or something, it has to happen early in pregnancy, when there is still enough room in the uterus for the baby to move freely. Basically, in its early stages, the baby sometimes makes a loop with its umbilical cord and goes completely through it (which sets the stage for a knot), or goes partially through it (which makes for a cord around the neck or body). It is possible for a loop to form early in pregnancy, and then for the baby’s movements (including playing with the cord) tighten the loop into a knot later in pregnancy. However, many times it is not visible by ultrasound, or it can easily be mistaken for just a looped umbilical cord. It’s possible that newer technology and more powerful imaging devices will be able to accurately diagnose a true knot, so that they can keep close check on the baby during the end of pregnancy and during labor, but that may still be some years in the future.

    Many times women “just know” that there is something wrong — if you think there is a problem, listen to your gut instincts. It may be that your baby’s heartbeat was still within the range of normal, even if it was lower than normal for your baby. However, the bigger the baby gets, the lower the heartrate is; so a slower heartbeat is not necessarily a sign that something is wrong (the fetal heart-rate increases every week in early pregnancy and then decreases from the 11th week onward). Decreased fetal movement is a good indicator that something may be wrong, which is why midwives and doctors will many times have women do “kick counts” where they keep track of how often the baby is moving, as an early indicator if something is wrong. Yes, the cord can tighten and cut off the oxygen supply in a matter of weeks. At the time, you thought that the baby was moving well enough, which was an indicator to the doctor that everything was still fine, even if the heartbeat was lower than it had been. When oxygen levels get low, fetal movement slows down — to conserve oxygen and energy, to make sure the brain and other vital organs get as much oxygen as possible.

    You can’t go back in time, so I don’t want what I say to add to the grief you must be feeling; but just to know for the future (although it’s unlikely this would happen again), here is an example of a kick-count chart to keep track of fetal movements ( Since ultrasound is not always completely accurate nor completely clear, fetal movement is probably a better indicator of fetal well-being in cases like these. Babies tend to slow down in movement later in pregnancy, but it still should be within “normal” parameters.

    My heart goes out to you,

  13. My son was born 7 years ago with 4 nuchal cords. Shortly before his birth, I notice tremendous movement. The only way to describe it was it was as if my baby was panicing and flailing the same way someone who was suffocating/drowning would flail and fight for air. I met with my ObGyn and she told me the baby was fine, heartrate was normal. I was a new, first time mom close to my due date and probably just anxious. But I knew something was wrong. Her solution was for me to come back in two days in stead of the customary week, which I did. Thankfully, I met with another Doctor in the practice and she took the time to monitor my son’s heartrate. She listened to my odd complains about strange itching sensations under my skin (was later told this was a sign of liver distress) and my belief that I was further along than they had calculated. After an hour of making me lie in several different positions and giving me food and liquids to raise my sons heartrate, my sons heartrate continued diving low. She told me this would be normal during a contraction, but I wasn’t having any. I was sent to the hospital for induction but when my son’s heartrate dove below 40 bpm, I was rushed into surgery. Every doctor/nurse I spoke with the next few days told me that had never seen 4 nuchal cords and that, considering the situation, they were amazed he was born alive. My son scored well on his Apgar, 9-9 but we have seen some effects we believe are related to possible oxygen deprevation inutero. He is currently being evaluated for Asperger’s (Autism) and has some neurological anomalies, symptoms of ADHD. The doctor providing the assessment believes that there is a strong correlation between the nuchal cords and some of his current problems. Who knows? The whole point I wanted to make was, if at any time, something strikes your gut as not being right, persue it. I felt something was wrong when I originally met with my doctor and felt she wasn’t really hearing my concern, but my belief that she was knowledgable overrode my gut reaction. I still feel guilty over not having insisted she check my baby more thoroughly, especiallt after hearing the nuchal cords could have caused his problems. If I could do I over again, I would rather have her think I was a neurotic pain in the neck rather that have my son suffer the possible life long consequences of my reticence.

    • I’m thankful to Kathy for taking the time and resources to keep this website up, and to all the women who took the time to post. It’s very useful for all those who read, and as time goes by, others will read and learn from these experiences and replies as well.

      I’m not sure if Michele will see my post, but there may be other mothers who have discovered similarities and can intervene more quickly in their child’s early development.

      My son is almost 21 and has just started Computer Tech school for gaming design and programming. He has Asperger’s (high functioning Autism) and has very high areas of learning, but problems in auditory processing, and fine motor skills. More simply, he can only follow one request at a time without visual cues, such as “go upstairs and get your blue jacket” If he’s not used to doing that, he can’t process without help. He also has very elementary handwriting and had to use the computer to give answers in school. But, he’s fantastic with remembering codes for programming, math, spelling, etc.

      We were very lucky that someone saw his symptoms early on and we were able to get him into school at 4yrs old through Early Intervention. (most public school systems have this and provide free testing) I think that’s why he’s able to perform well in school.

      I was a new mother and at the end of the pregnancy, I didn’t realize where the difference was in counting kicks, not enough…enough?

      I was at the beginning of my 9th month and at the check-up, the Dr. said the baby was breach and will have to be turned within two weeks if he didn’t turn on his own. They told me to spend a lot of time leaning over on knees and elbows to give the baby more room to turn. I did and one evening, he tried to turn but got stuck halfway, I thought my rib was going to break, then he flipped. I felt a few kicks and then he was quiet, I thought he was tired from struggling to get unstuck.

      I slept all night and the next day, I noticed he only moved twice, I called in the afternoon and the Nurse said as they got bigger, that was normal, he might only kick once in 24 hrs…I related kicking to moving… I think it was two days later when I went in for them to check and his heart rate was a little low, 90 to 110, so they did an ultrasound which, in ’89 wasn’t too good. They could tell the fluid was low, so they told me to drink more, otherwise, he seemed fine. We lasted this way (2 to 3 movements a day) for about 3 more weeks, they said he was a week overdue so they induced labor. They said his low heart rate was because of the exertion on him during contractions. He was born and was a little unresponsive to the suction, etc had a midrange Apgar, but they didn’t seemed concerned.
      We had problems keeping him awake to nurse and he slept for 8 hours the first night. We were young and trusted too many people. He should have been hungry and eating every 2 to 4 hours!!
      It was several years later that I found the paper from his birth with the Apgar, etc. and a hand written note was off to the side that said “loose umbilical cord”.

      Then I remembered it was half-detached when we got home, but I thought it was part of the birth process.
      Now I realize that he had reduced oxygen flow because of the tear in the umbilical cord at his navel. in Utero, he was active before he turned head-down and very inactive after, but because his heart rate was between 85 and 110, they said it was normal at 9 mos.

      I say all this because I had a gut feeling that something was wrong and everyone said it was okay, not to worry. Now, my son has a different lifestyle than he could have had if I had been more assertive. So, please don’t let them overlook your concerns, better safe than sorry. We’re taught to “behave” in Dr’s offices, so most people find it uncomfortable to speak up for what they feel is right.

      As Michele said, not enough research is done concerning the relationship to the umbilical cord and child development. I think Autism has several causes, but they all relate to the areas of the brain that are affected first in relation to hypoxia, reduced oxygen to the brain. Drs. should take more notice.

      I’ m sorry to post such a long e-mail, but I want to provide this information to show a pattern.

      Also, not to give up if there’s even a slight feeling to keep trying, just my opinions. My 3 other sons are fine, the last 2 being born at 5 year intervals. I almost had decided not to have any more because of how close we came to loosing this one. Follow your heart.

  14. Hi all,
    This is Rekha Singh from India. At present I am in my 38th week of my very first pregnancy and today itself , my Doc after going throgh my USG test reports told me that the Nuchal cord is noticed and there may arise a need to go for C-Section.
    I am really worried as I understand that once you have got yourself operated with such C-Section then throughout your life you have to compromise with so many things like you will not be able to have a cold bath or move in sun etc. etc.
    Now as I have gone through the articles placed here on this web page I am feeling a bit relaxed.
    But frankly speaking I am still very nervous and worried about my baby’s health.

    • It is normal to be nervous and worried about your baby’s health. But it is possible that the cord may be around the baby’s neck today and then gone tomorrow; and it may be loosely around his neck. Most nuchal cords do not pose a problem to the mother or baby. Something *may* happen to necessitate a C-section, but you probably won’t need one just because of the nuchal cord. Your doctor will probably monitor your baby during labor, and if it appears that the baby is having problems, will give you a C-section.

      I’ve heard that India has a very high C-section rate in hospitals, most of which are unnecessary; and depending on your particular doctor and hospital, you may be likely to have a C-section even if there is no problem. I have not heard about those things you said a woman couldn’t do after a C-section; but I have heard that many women have a nagging pain or itching at their incision site, and it’s possible that a cold bath or moving in the sun may make it worse.

      Before you get a C-section just because the baby may have a nuchal cord, I would suggest another ultrasound to make sure the cord is still around the baby’s neck, and to see if they can judge whether the cord is tight or loose. And definitely pay attention to your baby’s movements — if you notice a decrease in movements, that may indicate that there is a problem and you then may need a C-section in order to safely get your baby out.

  15. My husband and I were getting ready to try having another child. He came home from work and told me that a friend’s wife just found out that her baby had died from the cord wrapping around her neck. She was 39 weeks and had been to the doctor two days ago. They were getting ready to deliver this week. This news really made me sad and useless. More than that, it scared me to death. Looking at my son, who will be two in July, I couldn’t imagine going on with my life without him. I wanted to find more information about my friend’s loss. Reading this information made me feel better, but I also learned things I didn’t know during my first pregnancy. I plan to take this information and use if wisely. I’m hoping that y’all might pray for our friend and his wife.

    • I most certainly will pray for them — it is truly a devastating experience! My husband’s best friend and his wife had a similar occurrence, three and a half years ago, losing their baby on their due date, and she had been unwilling to try to have another baby, out of fear of the same thing happening again.

      There is an organization called SANDS — Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society — which will be of far more value than anything I can say, because these people have lived through this nightmare, and will know best what to say. Perhaps you can get some information from them to help your friend, or share the organization’s name with her so she can look into it herself.

  16. Our third son was born still at 22w1d. At his 20 week u/s, we found that he was only measuring 18 weeks, had echogenic bowel, and low amniotic fluid. We had multiple u/s, but I was concerned about Will’s movement and went in for a paranoia check, only to find that his little heart was no longer beating. At his birth, we found that the last inch or so of his umbilical cord (to where it attached to his belly button) decreased in diameter to about a quarter of its previous diameter. I was again researching info about this and came across a very similar post that defined this as hypercoiled umbilical cord. We did request an autopsy but have not yet received he final results. What causes hypercoiling? Was it something I did? I went down a waterslide with my 3 yr old at 12 weeks…did that cause it? Will it happen again? Could Will have survived it we had made it to 24 weeks and gotten him out? Thanks!

    • Jen,

      I’m so sorry for your loss!

      It sounds like your son had issues that were related to the umbilical cord, and/or possibly some underlying factors. I’m glad you’ve chosen an autopsy — that will likely answer a lot of your questions. The cause of stillbirth is unknown in about half of all cases, but many parents do not choose an autopsy, so the cause of death may be knowable in more cases.

      Unfortunately, many rare conditions, including hypercoiling and other umbilical or placental issues, are not well studied, since they are so rare, so often there are only “educated guesses” and medical reasoning to go on, rather than straight facts. Many cases have no known risk factors, and just appear to be “one of those things.” I cannot imagine that going down a water slide could have caused this to happen to your son, because of the cushioning and protection of the uterus. Sometimes women are told that things they do cause problems with their babies, but these may be false “old wives’ tales.” Please don’t torment yourself by thinking that you caused the problem; and don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty.

      The rates of survival for premature infants vary based on their gestational age at birth — at 24 weeks, about half of all babies survive; at 22 weeks, the rate is somewhere around 10-15%. An otherwise healthy baby has a better chance of living than a compromised baby. Considering his smaller size at the 20 week u/s, it sounds like he may have had some underlying problem that may not have allowed him to live if he was born alive at 24 weeks.

      Sometimes it is difficult to ascertain whether something was a cause or an effect — was his small size due to the umbilical cord constriction? or was the umbilical cord constriction somehow due to his small size, or another underlying factor? In many cases, doctors only know that there is an association between a hypercoiled umbilical cord and intrauterine fetal demise, without knowing why the umbilical cord sometimes coils or constricts. There are some guesses, such as that babies that move more in utero may cause extra coiling of the cord, or knowing that this condition is associated with certain genetic problems, but the problem is not common enough to have a lot of good, solid research into it. Due to the rarity of the situation, you may need to consult with a specialist into this problem for better answers.

      It is unlikely to happen again — just as it didn’t happen with either of your other two children.

  17. I am 8 months Pregnant and my umbilical cord started hurting a few hours ago i just want to know if its normal

    • It is pretty common as your belly expands around your growing baby to have your own navel become more sensitive. Many women actually have it poking out, and it then can become more irritated as clothes rub across it. Perhaps you can put some sort of bandage over it, to help protect it from the friction.

  18. I’m just about 9 months pregnant with a VERY active baby. One day she’s vertex and the next day she’s breech. Does this put her at increased risk to develop a nuchal cord or even a true knot?
    Thank you!

    • Possibly — it depends on if she is wrapping herself up in her umbilical cord or not with her motions. Most knots and nuchal cords are set up in early pregnancy, when the baby typically has more room to move around in the uterus, being small (a pound or two, as opposed to 7-9 pounds), and more able to get tangled in the cord. Let me stress that nuchal cords and even true knots are usually not a problem, but they *might* become problematic. Keep track of her movements, because that’s usually the first indication that there is a problem — *if* it becomes a problem (which it typically won’t). Do kick counts, and if you notice a decrease in movements, notify your care-giver. An ultrasound can usually detect if there really is a problem or not.

  19. I have a 3 yr old son with cerebral palsy and am now 33 wks preg. with my second. My 1st delivery was was very long with and ended with failure to prgress and a c-section. I have asked my doctor if there was any reason why i could not vaginally deliver and they said that sometimes things just dont all go the way they should and that he was on the big side 8.7lbs. For this pregnancy i decided to switch doctors and therefore requested my original ob records. I was suprised to find the placenta report attached that stated that my sons ambilical cord was only 10cm long. They even noted that 32cm was concidered necessary for a normal vaginal delivery and went on to list some complication that went along with a short cord. With that said i am very upset that no one told me about this after such a non suggsesfull delivery.
    isnt this something they should have been able to tell me at least after the fact and is this something they could have or should have sceen before i delivered. Everyone said i never dropped and when they broke my water my son went back up high and they even called in the ultra sound tech to check where he had gone. This was after about 13 hrs of labor. my water did contain some maconium and yet i still labored for another 16 hrs with 3.5 of those pushing with no progress. My new doctor stated that they can not tell the cord length by ultra sound. I am tring to avoid a c-section and wonder if i should push for an ultrasound in hopes that they might be able to determain it is long enough of it to be able to go forward with natural delivery?


  20. A short umbilical cord is unusual, so is unlikely to recur (it may be that a short cord is one of those things that is more likely to happen a second time, if it happens a first time, but is still pretty rare — I don’t know the real figures, but let’s say that the likelihood of any baby having a short cord is 1/10,000, and if you are now at an increased risk for it [which I think unlikely, but I just don’t know], it may be 2/10,000 or 3/10,000 — higher risk, but still very low risk of recurrence).

    According to this study ((458)Durand A, Descamps P, Vieyres P, Menigault E, Gregoire JM, Pourcelot D et al. In utero measurement of the umbilical cord in full term pregnancy. J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod 1996;25:78-86), you can tell umbilical cord length by ultrasound. It may be that your particular doctor, his equipment, or your baby’s position, make it difficult or impossible to see the full cord in your case right now, but in general, it *is* possible to determine that. You can ask our doctor to try again, or perhaps seek a second opinion.

    It may be possible that your doctor is playing on your fears to try to get you to have an elective C-section, and saying, “Hmmm, we don’t know and can’t tell if this baby is going to have another short cord, just like your first baby did.. so it’ll be better to just have another C-section before you have such a long labor again.”

    Fetal movement seems to be correlated with cord length — is this baby moving more than your first baby? It seems that the more your baby moves (particularly in early and mid pregnancy), the longer the cord gets, perhaps by some sort of playing with and stretching.

    Since short cord is unusual, it’s not something that is normally screened for (although it might be possible to just “happen” to see it on an ultrasound). It’s also not something that might be assumed or perhaps even thought of as a reasonable explanation for a long labor during labor (although as you found out, it is something that can be determined with accuracy after the birth). So, yes, it’s technically something that they could have screened for (although sometimes it’s not easy seeing the whole length of the umbilical cord), but I don’t think that it’s something they “should have” done.

    In my opinion, the first doctor should have told you about your son’s short umbilical cord. Perhaps they felt like it didn’t really matter, since it’s unlikely to be repeated, but I think it’s important for women to know as much as possible about why their labors and births turned out as they did, particularly for a planned vaginal birth that ended in a Cesarean. It seems pretty obvious that your baby just couldn’t descend enough to be born, which was ultimately the reason for your C-section; but if you didn’t know that, you might assume that it was due to his size, which is not necessarily the case.

  21. I’m 26 weeks pregnant and just had an ultrasound on thursday. My doctor called me yesterday to talk to me about the results and some kind of referal. She got off of the phone very quickly and told me to call her back five minutes later. My phone died and I wasn’t able to talk to her. My baby is already in a frank breech position and she says that the cord is wrapped around his neck. She also said they needed to take a look at the placenta and the cord insertion. The baby has been moving less often, and I told the person who was doing the ultrasound and she just laughed and said it was normal. His heart rate is usually around 147-152 and it was 130. I’m not sure if I need to be worried, I would assume she would have called me back if she thought there was an immediate problem but I really didn’t get a chance to tell her everythign

  22. I’m 26 weeks pregnant and just had an ultrasound on thursday. My doctor called me yesterday to talk to me about the results and some kind of referal. She got off of the phone very quickly and told me to call her back five minutes later. My phone died and I wasn’t able to talk to her. My baby is already in a frank breech position and she says that the cord is wrapped around his neck. She also said they needed to take a look at the placenta and the cord insertion. The baby has been moving less often, and I told the person who was doing the ultrasound and she just laughed and said it was normal. His heart rate is usually around 147-152 and it was 130. I’m not sure if I need to be worried, I would assume she would have called me back if she thought there was an immediate problem but I really didn’t get a chance to tell her everything I have been feeling lately. I can’t get ahold of her until monday and i’m not sure i can wait that long. any advice on what to do?

    • This is understandably nerve-wracking! A nuchal cord (wrapped around his neck) is not necessarily an indication of something wrong — something like 20-30% of babies have nuchal cords at birth (including my firstborn son), and it is only rarely associated with a negative outcome. Many nuchal cords identified by u/s resolve themselves before birth. It’s possible that the nuchal cord is making it difficult or impossible for him to turn to a head-down position; but something like 25% of babies are still breech at 30 weeks, but only about 3-4% are not head-down by the time labor commences, so your baby has plenty of time to turn.

      The fetal heart-rate increases with activity, so if your baby happened to be kicking or moving when his heartrate was checked before, and/or he was asleep the last time it was checked, that may be the reason it’s lower now. I checked my prenatal records for my first pregnancy, and my baby’s heartrate ranged between 148-160 most of the time, but at 33w4d, it was 136, and the midwife didn’t bring it to my attention in any worrisome way. Here’s a graph showing different heart-rates for the two sexes and at different weeks of gestation, which may put your mind at ease.

      It would be nice to say, “Oh, since your doctor didn’t call you back, then it must be nothing,” but I can’t say that, because there could be other reasons (including forgetfulness, dialing a wrong number, or expecting you to be the one to call back) why she didn’t call back.

      If you’d rather not wait until Monday, and you can’t get in touch with her or anyone else at that office until then (a message service?), you may be able to go to the hospital and get an ultrasound for reassurance. They may not be able to do the more detailed one that will look at the placenta and cord insertion, but they can check the fetal heartrate (could do that w/o an ultrasound, too — just with an EFM, Doppler, or fetoscope), which might be reassuring to you. You could also see if a crisis pregnancy center with an ultrasound machine could check you out. I know it’s not exactly what they’re there for, but I would think they’d be sympathetic enough to do that, unless they are somehow prevented by legislation or internal guidelines from doing that. You could also look to see if there are some of those “keepsake” ultrasound places around. While I’m not a big fan of u/s, and the FDA has come out against unnecessary u/s, particularly those done at non-licensed facilities that go by cutesy names like “Womb with a View” and whatnot, you might find it worth the price of your peace.

      Another avenue, which you can undertake immediately, is to do kick counts. It’s not entirely unusual for babies to move more or less often from time to time; but if there is a sudden and marked change, that may indicate a problem. It’s not always a definite indication of something wrong — sometimes the positioning of the baby makes it harder for the mother to feel the movement (and some mothers go through pregnancy without even knowing they’re pregnant!). My SIL one time got really concerned about one of her babies — she hadn’t felt her move in several hours, and even after my SIL drank juice or a Coke (something sweet which tends to make fetuses a bit hyper), poked her belly, and bounced around a bit, there was still no movement. So, she went to the hospital to get checked out, and just as they were starting the u/s, the baby started kicking. {shrug} But a friend of mine noticed that her son at 34 weeks had a marked decrease in movement, so she went to get checked out, and sure enough, there was a problem, and she had a necessary emergency C-section that day which saved his life. Some years later, a friend of hers remarked that *her* baby wasn’t moving very much, and my friend didn’t want to worry her, so said nothing about her own experienced, and this other woman’s baby did end up dying, with the decrease in movement being the first indication that something was wrong. “Less movement” as long as it is *enough* movement is okay; but compromised babies move less, to conserve their energy, so that’s why it’s often the first sign of a problem. And mothers can do kick counts every day, while it’s not feasible to go to the doctor or hospital every day “just to check.” Many mothers who had stillborn babies noted that the babies had less movement leading up to the loss; this is why kick counts are so important.

      But do the kick count (pick a time when the baby is usually active), and if that doesn’t reassure you, then you may feel better about going for a check at the hospital. Poking your baby, and seeing if he’ll kick back may reassure you as well. Look at it as a “bonding experience”, a form of communication just between the two of you.

  23. My pregnancy went well although I had a strong feeling that something wasn’t right. I took a leave from work because I felt I had to. During deliver everything seem to be going well. When I delivered him his umbilical cord was knotted up in several knots large and small. My doctor was shocked at what he was seeing and so was I, The part of his cord that was connected to me was very thin. My doctor had trouble cutting his cord away from him because of the knots. His toe and finger nails were purple. My doctor was also amazied that he weight 7lbs & 12oz. He said that my baby was trully a miracale. He had to stay in the nursery for a few days. But he is alive and doing great no phsycial or mental issues he is trully a blessing.

  24. My pregnancy went well although I had a strong feeling that something wasn’t right. I took a leave from work because I felt I had to. During deliver everything seem to be going well. When I delivered him his umbilical cord was knotted up in several knots large and small. My doctor was shocked at what he was seeing and so was I, The part of his cord that was connected to me was very thin. My doctor had trouble cutting his cord away from him because of the knots. His toe and finger nails were purple. My doctor was also amazied that he weight 7lbs & 12oz he couldn’t see how he got the nutrients he needed with that many knots. They were from the beginning to the end of the cord. He said that my baby was trully a miracale. He had to stay in the nursery for a few days. But he is alive and doing great no phsycial or mental issues he is trully a blessing.

  25. I am currently 26w 5d. I am a phlebotomist and come from a medical family. As a family, we found it very interesting when an ultra sound at the High Risk OB (Family Hx of VSD and PFO) showed a straight cord. I’ve been trying to research this, but as you know there is limited information out there. The Ob and I discussed the possibility of a low birth weight baby and maybe delivering early. Elizabeth is currently 53% for weight at 1lb 13oz and an active baby. I have my concerns, but am not worried – there is little I can do to change the situation. I am wondering if you have any more links to updated research on straight cords since your posting in May 2008? Thank you.

  26. Hi, do you know if straights umbilical cords are a genetic condition? or is it accidental? If i had a baby with a straight umbilical cord does it means that my future babies could have this condition?

    • From what I’ve read, straight umbilical cords seem to be due to lower fetal activity, and lower fetal activity often is a result of a genetic defect. So, a straight umbilical cord is not a “genetic condition” exactly, but they sometimes go together. Sometimes babies are perfectly normal genetically, but they still have straight umbilical cords; and sometimes babies with genetic conditions have normally coiled umbilical cords.

      I don’t know if having one baby with a straight umbilical cord increases your chances of having another one in the future. Some genetic conditions are hereditary (such as hair color, blood type, cystic fibrosis, etc.) while others are not, but are instead errors in copying or mutations that just happened but are not likely to happen again in a future baby.

  27. I read in one article that straight cords may also be liked to poor nutrition during the formation of the cord.

  28. Hi, I’m 37 weeks today and I’ve noticed my baby is making quite frantic crazy movements and does so most of the day. She has hardly any inactive time and moves constantly. I wasnt worried until I read this can mean strangulation and now Im absolutely terrified! More-so as I’ve had a severe chest infection which has meant frequent and violent coughing…..could I have got her tangled and could she be in danger? I’m so scared!

    • If your baby is normally quite active, this probably means nothing — just like some kids are hyper and run around the room all the time but are still normal. My SIL said that one of her children was like that — constantly on the move the entire time in the womb, and she’s still an active child.

      Most entanglements occur very early in pregnancy when the baby has plenty of room to move around in the uterus, and is only noticed at birth. About 1 baby in every 5 is born with the cord around his neck, but only rarely is it a problem.

      If you think that your baby’s movements are abnormal (such as what one may make when having difficulty breathing or gasping for air), then you may feel better if you go get it checked out. Most likely it’s nothing, but if your intuition is telling you something is wrong, then I’d rather listen to that than just look at how rare it is for a cord entanglement to be a problem.


    • Was there a reply to this? I delivered my sweet sleeping baby boy when I was 25 weeks along on June 2nd of this year. Same thing two or three weeks prior we had gone in and there was a healthy heart beat and I had been feeling baby movement. I noticed movement stopping. We just received the preliminary autopsy results and it is noted that there was narrowing of the umbilical cord. We are still waiting for the final autopsy. I read on another site that this may be something that reoccurs in certain mothers that have had it occur once already. This was our second loss. We loss our first baby in October of 2010 at about 14 weeks. With my first pregnancy I had a lot of clotting and bleeding and so it was assumed that was related to the loss. However, could it be that I the cord was related to my first loss as well? Is there anything that can be monitored or done? Thank you for sharing all of your information and stories. I love my babies so much and will never forget them. My husband and I do want a baby we can bring home with us and take care of and want to know if there is anything we can do to help this happen.

      • I don’t know, and I’m so sorry for your loss. My only suggestion is not something I’ve read or seen studied, but it makes sense to me: your baby’s body is made up of the nutrients you eat, so make sure you eat enough nutrients, and especially protein and healthy vegetables. There are many causes of miscarriage and stillbirth, but I think about half of all cases of loss are ultimately unknown. Maybe in the future we will be able to understand what causes more of these cases (and hopefully prevent them!), but for right now, while some cases are known (genetic problem, malnutrition, accident, etc.) there is just a big question mark for so many others.

  30. I have a question for you…I just had an ultrasound at 19 weeks and they couldn’t find/see the cord? Any ideas? I have another ultrasound due in two weeks…

    • Hmm, I’ve heard of babies with extremely short cords, but this is very rare. Perhaps the ultrasound machine wasn’t working very well? Perhaps the baby was in an unusual position? Most likely everything is going just fine. If the baby’s size was in the normal range, and that the heartbeat was also in the normal range, it can be assumed that the placenta and umbilical cord are working well, even if the cord wasn’t visible on the ultrasound.

      • Thanks, I’m sure it’s nothing…I’ll let you know in two weeks time 🙂

        • ok so the cord WAS visible only they could see only two viens?

          • That’s unusual. A normal umbilical cord has two arteries and one vein; a common abnormality (about 1% of all singleton births) is SUA or “single umbilical artery” in which the umbilical cord has only one artery and one vein — a “two-vessel cord.”

            Other abnormalities, including cords with 2 arteries and 2 veins, and cords with other numbers of arteries and veins, are known to exist, but are rare. Sometimes these are associated with fetal/congenital defects, and sometimes not.

            If this is the same doctor and same equipment, I’d be a bit skeptical about this diagnosis, since they couldn’t see any cord before; if this was with a different doctor and/or better equipment, it may be accurate.

            Most likely, it’s still nothing (most babies are normal even with cord abnormalities), but if you want to read more about umbilical cord abnormalities, you can click here and here.

  31. Thank-you for answering so many of my questions!! I talked to my doctor yesterday and she said that there was one artery and one vein as you mentioned. She also said that the placenta had two lobes.

    The baby is looking good – nothing was noted there. Thankfully!

    Do you know what could have caused these? It’s a bit unsettling but I am choosing not to worry and hope/praying for the best.

    I wonder about the placenta – when it comes time for it to be delivered will the second lobe come out on it’s own or will it have to be removed?

    Also I always prefer not to have the routine injection of oxytocin while pushing but should I consider having it this time? Would it ensure that the second lobe comes out?

    Thanks so much again!

    • No, I don’t know what may have caused either of these differences. Here is some more information on placentas with two lobes. There are two different types — in one, the placenta is pretty evenly divided into two sections, and in the other type, most of the placenta is on one section, while just a portion of the placenta is in another section.

      Yes, these placentas are more likely to be retained, so you may need some extra attention after birth to remove the retained piece of placenta. However, according to the World Health Organization’s “Safe Motherhood” guide, routine oxytocin injection is associated with higher incidence of retained placenta, so you should discuss this with your doctor, because it sounds to me that you should avoid this if possible. What happens with the injection, is that the uterus clamps down more strongly than normal, so it may clamp down before the placenta is delivered, thus retaining it inside the uterus.

      The doctor may be able to manually remove it (not a pleasant experience, even with an epidural! [according to my sister — she could feel it as discomfort, but it wasn’t terribly painful; without an epidural, it would be quite painful, according to other things I’ve read), or it may need to be removed by D&C. This is probably something that will be decided at the time, depending on the circumstances, and with the hope that it will come out on its own.

  32. Thank-you very much for this information! It is best that we know then we can make sure that it is addressed during labor and afterwards!

    I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me!


  33. I am 20 wks and had an ultrasound yesterday found out its a boy …later on that evening they called me and informed me that he has cord rapped around his neck twice …im so early im wondering what can happen hes really active baby but we just moved down here and my insurance hasnt kicked in yet so im freakin out i feel him kick only when im laying down i dont know how much hes surpose to be kicking i tap my stomach make sure he moves …is it possible im goin to look into an early labor ..they want me to go see perinatal specialist just very want to prepare myself for whats coming ….my daughter was born with cord around her neck but that that happened during labor n she was huge almost 10lbs ..9lbs 10oz 22inches

    • There’s not much you can do about it — and most of the times, nothing needs to be done. Most of the time, a cord around the neck is no problem; and there are documented cases in which the cord was seen to be around the baby’s neck in an ultrasound, but it was not around the neck in a later u/s and/or at birth. Most “kick charts” and “kick counts” don’t start until later in pregnancy, so I don’t know how often a typical baby at 20 weeks should move (or if there is even a “typical” movement — I didn’t feel my first baby for sure until he was about 20 weeks along, and there were many hours that I didn’t feel him, or only barely felt him). At this stage, there is nothing that can be done except for worrying needlessly about it — and stress isn’t good for pregnancy. Try to relax as much as possible, and worry as little as possible.

  34. I am sorry for all of your lost. I am 35 wks. and I just found out today when they did the ultrasound that the umbilical cord is a little bigger than the normal size. Now this is my sixth child and this have never happened to me before, they are now sending me to a speicalist to do another test,but I am not sure what the name of it is. I am so scared because I want the baby to be alright. They listened to the cord and the blood flow was going through,plus she said the baby is getting everything he needs. She also said that he is huge. Could that be the reason the umbilical cord is a little big because he is big. Or could it be something else?

  35. I found out today that one of our family friends lost their baby boy 4 days before he was due. The Dr said he “drowned” because the umblicial cord detacted from the placenta. My heart breaks for them. Is this a common thing or what could have caused this?

    I also have a healthy almost 6 month old and he was born with the cord wrapped around his body and his arm. He was active in the womb and he is just as active out in the world. I’m now worried after hearing what happened to them could happen if I were to have another pregnancy or that something like that could have happened to our son. I thank God that he is happy and healthy. But am still scared that there will be side effects from him being born with the cord wrapped around him. My younger brother was born with the cord wrapped around his neck and he was in the NICU a couple days because of it, but he is now a college graduate and, I personally think he is smarter than both me and my older brother.

    • Danielle, how awful! There is a condition called “velamentous insertion” in which the cord is not firmly attached (think “rooted”) in the placenta, but this usually only becomes a problem if/when the water breaks, and the force of the draining water rips the cord off the placenta. I’m not sure how common it is, and the cord doesn’t always come off [if you’re on facebook, go to Navelgazing Midwife’s page — she has a few pictures of a velamentous insertion that she posted within the past several days or perhaps a week; she may also have them posted on her blog], but if it does, it would usually be fatal for the baby. It’s more common for the placenta to detach from the uterine wall (placenta abruption), but neither of these is terribly common.

      It is, on the other hand, *quite* common for babies to be born with the cord wrapped around their bodies at some point, and it only rarely causes a problem. If I had to guess, I’d say that velamentous insertion and placenta abruption occur perhaps in 1/1000 pregnancies, and probably much less often than that, perhaps in the 1/5,000-10,000 range; but nuchal cords occur around 20-30% of the time, or 1/3-1/5.

  36. I got a 3D US done it showed the cord around the baby’s neck, I’m currently 30 wks. Some of the stuff I have read has relieved me but then some has not. My baby is moving great right now, more active at times than other. So your saying when the movement has decreased and the kick count is off is when to worry?

    • From what I have read, yes — fetal movement is a better indicator of well-being (or lack thereof), than whether the cord is around the neck or not. Approximately 30% of all babies are born with the cord around their neck, but only rarely is it a problem; it is very likely that many more babies have had nuchal cords before birth that resolved on their own before or during birth, and these were not problematic.

      Also, even if your baby didn’t have a cord around the neck on u/s, there are many reasons why doing kick counts is a wise thing, and is an interactive way you can assure yourself of the baby’s well-being on a daily basis.

  37. My baby sister was just born a week and a half ago and she had the cord her neck now the doctors keep taking blood out her cause her blood pressure Is to high I’m worried

    • I don’t think that the nuchal cord had anything to do with her high blood pressure, though I could be wrong. Have the doctors said that the one caused the other?

  38. Dear Kattu

    i was 30 month pregrant, it was so shocking, just a week ago from a doctor and it was one monday morning just out of the blues i decided to see a doctor to check me on the sonar but found out the my baby boy ‘s heart was not moving, its was really shocking and the fact that the doctor have to induce me it was the most traumating experience of my life, i went to buria my son/.. so sad.. how do one get over these, and i found out that the cord twisted between his stomarch.. when i saw him, what cause this and what can one do to prevent this if i feel pregrant again. help thanks

  39. Can mother’s movements cause cord to wrap around baby?Like turning fast or getting up or lying down fast?

  40. I was 39 weeks and went to hospital because I didn’t feel our baby moving and was told they couldn’t find heartbeat, I delivered by c/section next morning. This was our 1st child, I am 39 yrs old, obese, smoke(very lightly) found out at 3 months I was pregnant, came as a complete shock! This was after not being able to conceive for almost 21 years(pregnant naturally, no meds). I guess I was possibly considered “high risk”..age, weight, 1st pregnancy. 1st prenatal appt blood work came back for possible Downs, sent to specialist, specialist said “I don’t know” but will tell my doc to monitor closely, resulting in monthly ultrasounds. The baby was growing 2 weeks behind, doctor said nearing end of pregnancy, “don’t think we should be concerned”. Pregnancy was uneventful throughout except the week before finding out baby passed. Here’s where it gets tricky and leading to questions. The week prior I was called in a prescription for Klebsiella infection on leg, gave me Cephalexin and Bactroban Cream. 2 days later went to hospital thinking I was leaking fluid, which tested positive on strip, doctor gave exam and did a culture and came back Yeast Infection, caused by Cephalexin. Gave me cream to be inserted “vag” and it was Terconazol, for 3 days. Had a appointment with doctor 2 days later, was not my regular doctor, he was a vacation. Nurse checked blood pressure it was 142/?, she said it was “high”, I told her I was hot, had headache, sweating and my feet was swollen(mainly left foot) doctor came in listen to heartbeat, seems as though she was really concentrating, even told my (adopted) daughter “shhh need to listen”(as my daughter was talking). Then doctor examined me to see if I was dilated, she hurt me extremely bad, said I was not dilated at all, (my doctor said I was 1cm and doc at hospital said 1cm) and then proceeding to tell me to “sit in chair with feet flat on floor to see if blood pressure was going to go down”, 5-10 minutes later nurse comes in and said she needed to check and said “not unless you want to go over to hospital” I said ok and hubby did too, she said let me see, it was at 138/? and she said let me talk to doctor. The nurse came back and said “doc said you are fine” and let me go home. That was on a Friday, Monday there was no heartbeat.
    Was I having symptoms of Preeclampsia? I never had any Non Stress test done, is that normal? I am not sure as to what I should make of this. We did have an Autopsy done and they didn’t find any evidence that says “Cord accident” but they said they “think” it was an cord accident. Wouldn’t an Autopsy show if it was or not? They said baby was healthy, 10 fingers,10 toes. No clear signs or markings of Downs. What do you think, any thoughts would be appreciated!! I know its a lot of info, but trying to make sense of what went wrong in that last week and I know it may have been out of my control but I just need more understanding!! Thank You so much!!!
    Our baby was 8.3 lbs and 20 1/2 inches long and BEAUTIFUL!!

  41. Hello, I am a 49 yr. old woman who was born with my cord wrapped around my neck. My mother said, I was born blue, yikes. Any insight into this, I am wondering if maybe I had my first near death experience. Sorta kidding.

    • That is possible; a friend of mine was also born blue, and the doctor thought she was stillborn. But he unwrapped the cord and got her started breathing and she’s perfectly fine.

  42. My wife and I just suffered a loss similar to the ones you have all shared. My wife was 40 weeks pregnant when we went in for one of her many ultrasounds. The week before, her doctor mentioned that if the embryotic fluid was at whatever level it needed to be at, then we could go to the hospital from the doctor’s office to be induced. During the ultrasound that day, everything looked fine until they noticed there was no heartbeat. The doctor determined that the cord was wrapped around our baby’s neck too tight. I hope that me sharing this helps someone who has experienced something similar know that they are not alone.

  43. Even i lost my baby at 32 weeks due to a twist in the umbilical cord. I did my scan at 30th week and they found that i have a single umbilical artery. it could lead to some abnormalities. i went to scan just before two days of the incident.the baby was fine and i heard the heart beat. But not on apr 8th 2012. Hope i should have a healthy baby next time.

  44. I would really like to know, if there are any statistics on Mother’s who have had an emergency Cesarean section with their first child, because of multiple nuchal cords wrapped around the neck of the child, thus the heart rate dropping, and the occurrence of nuchal cords occurring with their second child. Is there any information on this topic?

  45. hai good evening, iam 5.5months pregnant. and went for scanning in 2 months doctor told me that every thing is normal . but in the 5.5months scanning , doctor told me that your baby have only 2 umbalical vessel cord instood of 3 umbalical vessel cord . but remaining everything is normal. can you please suggest me whether i can give birth to child nor should i abort. because need healthy child .

    • While having a two-vessel cord sometimes indicates other problems, many perfectly healthy and normal children are born with a two-vessel cord. But even if your child is not healthy, I do not consider being ill or disabled as worthy of a death sentence. If after you give birth, you realize that your child is not healthy enough for you, I am sure other families will be able to receive your child into their home, love him or her, and take care of him or her.

  46. i want to appreciate Doc.Odogbe whose email address is for the spell he did for me that make me to conceive and have my own babies. first of all i really believe in him that he will be able to help me out and make me a mother. all thanks to u Doc Odogbe. i pray that other women will also find success of your spell to make them have their own baby just as you have helped me.

  47. Am a father to son born with a umbilical cord, to an extend the baby was lifeless, but was latter revive back to life. My fear was hope this won’t have effect on his growth?

  48. What if a baby swallowed up his or her waste during the process of given birth, what effect does that have on them?

  49. After reading so many sad as well as inspiring stories, I decided to share our story which just happened, and is still happening. As I am writing this message,our new born son experienced his fifth episodes when he stopped breathing and had to be revived. So here is the story.

    This past Sunday, my wife noticed sudden decrease of fetal movements on Monday, she immediately called her OB whom told her to come in and check out right away. During the monitor and ultrasound, the baby really didn’t move a lot, but the doctor kept pressing and moving her belly to encourage movement. Our son did move a couple of times. During the ultrasound my wife saw something near the baby’s neck and asked the doctor whether it was the cord, and the doctor said “it was only hand”. We trusted her, and went home. Before we left, the doctor told us the baby was fine, but keep paying attention for movements.

    Anyway, long story short, baby still didn’t move much during the next 24 hours on Tuesday. Maybe only a few scratches or a little turn here and there, and because we had another appointment scheduled for this coming Thursday, we were debating whether to go to the doctor or not. After all, the doctor told us the baby looked fine the day earlier, and “the thing around the neck was not the cord”, etc. However, my wife’s gut feeling was we had to call and at least let the doctor know and let her decide what to do. We call Wednesday morning, and the doctor was off. The nurse called the doctor and got back to us said”we had two choices, 1, come to the office and let the ultrasound technician check on the baby. 2, go to the hospital. Since hospital has doctors, we decided to come to the hospital. Little did we know that decision SAVED HIS LIFE, so far.

    15 minutes after arriving the hospital, the doctors tried everything to make the baby to move, all failed. Heart-rate was ok, but an emergency C-section was called for by all the doctors, and 10 minutes late, the baby was out. He had the CORD WRAPPED AROUND HIS NECK THREE TIMES, AND MORE SERIOUSLY, THERE WAS A TRUE KNOT. He was not responsive for 3-5 minutes, and then he made his first cry finally. Everyone breathed a sign of relief.

    Two hours later, while he was in the intensive care unit, he started having seizures (all four so far), and after putting him under medication, his seizures stopped, but followed by sudden/unexplained stops of breath. The current suspect is lack of oxygen to his brain in the past day or two days??!??!!! We won’t know for sure until morning when he will have EEG test and head ultra sound, and they neuro-team will decide to give him a brain MRI or not. I pray no brain or organ damage due to lack of blood flow/oxygen.

    I put up this post for three reasons, honestly.
    1, I am staring at this baby and scared to death. Feeling powerless over his fate, and had to express this feeling otherwise I feel I would explode
    2, I felt encouraged by so many great moms and dads who went through so much heartache and pain and still managed to share their stories and help other cope. Thank you, Kathy. That motivated me to share.
    3, most importantly, I’d like those of you out there who feel our pain and worries, and pray for our son, Ari. It’s our first born, and we don’t know what we will do if anything terrible happens to him. So please, pray for him, and pray for us………
    One final thing, I agree with what most people say, follow a mom’s gut feelings and maternal instinct. It’s always better safe than sorry!!!

    Thanks so much for listening, and for your prayers in advance!

  50. I am 20 weeks shy of one day to be 21 weeks. I went in for my anotomy scan which I did a blood test and already know I’m having a boy. He has been perfect and healthy me and him. I went in this morning and was told after about 5 minutes of the ultra sound there’s no heart beat. My baby is dead. They didn’t even go in for a second look or anything just said nope sorry he’s gone. I went home and lost it. My husband lost it my family was just devastated. Well I kept feeling movement and him doing his normal thing of poking his booty out and small kicks here and there. I drank a cup of coffee and some fruit and I started feeling things. My PA is my mothers best friend and neighbor so she snuck her doppler home and brought it over tonight and we picked up my heart beat at 85-90 and then found another ranging from 130-213 kept fluctuating between 150-190 for a good 30 seconds. We would lose it then re find it again. It’s always on different sides and generally by my belly button or under my belly button. If he is really gone why is the Doppler picking up movement and turning and a heart beat. I even took a video of the heart beat that was not mine mine was a lot slower. I do know they had 3 cases like this where it was a false reading and the baby really was not gone. Their machines were not correct. Has this ever happened to anyone else. I’m laying here in bed just praying and sobbing to God please give me a miracle give me some hope and peace of mind that maybe somehow they were wrong and my Elijah is okay. I’m not bleeding I’m not cramping I feel like I normally do everyday. I go back tomorrow for another ultra sound by my moms friend because even she swears she heard him and heard a lot of movement. I need advice, help something that will make me feel better. I feel so scared and lost and idk what to do. The doctor even said by looking at my ultra sound how perfectly healthy he is and perfect size and the ultra sound was just perfect he was covering his face with his arm. His head measured perfect the only thing they could even think happened was just recently as in this morning he was wrapped around the cord. I just don’t understand why I’m feeling movement and a doppler is picking up all this.

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