Umbilical cord: a thread of life

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Umbilical cord: a thread of life
More than a link between you and your future baby, the umbilical cord is a power cable that gives your child everything he needs (oxygen, nutrients …) and allows him to get rid of his waste. This system of active exchange is reviewed.

Umbilical cord: a thread of life
Umbilical cord: a thread of life

When does the umbilical cord form?

Quickly after conception, the rapid growth of your baby requires the establishment of an efficient exchange system. From the first month, the embryo, nestled in the mucous membrane of the uterus, hangs a tiny suction cup where the placenta will soon form. From this attachment is developed a cord that will allow your baby to frolic in your belly without cutting off the elements essential to its growth.

What is it used for?

  • To understand this, let us first look at his situation. One of the ends of the umbilical cord is anchored in the sheath (amnios) of the placenta; the other is confused with the skin of your future baby.
  • The umbilical cord is a large cable lined with a sort of protective gelatin, called connective tissue. Inside this cable, there is a vein and two arteries. The umbilical vein provides your baby with oxygen, water, mineral salts and various nutrients that the placenta has processed and stored for it. In return, by the umbilical arteries, your baby pours his waste (carbon dioxide, urea …) that the placenta will in turn discharge in your blood. The umbilical cord flow in late pregnancy can reach 30 liters per day.
  • So connected, your baby benefits from all the elements to flourish, at his / her rhythm, inside his small uterine planet.

What does this cord look like?

  • During the first 3-4 months of pregnancy, the umbilical cord is still pretty short, but thick as it contains the intestines of your baby waiting for her abdominal cavity is developed enough to integrate them.
  • As the days pass, the umbilical cord lengthens and becomes thinner. It also becomes more flexible, more flexible and gets wrapped around your baby’s galleries. Hence its appearance twisted at birth.
  • Approaching the end of pregnancy, umbilical cord measuring 50 to 70 cm long (some can be shorter and more reach over a meter) and 2 cm in diameter.

What information can he give about the health of the fetus?

  • The umbilical cord vessels (vein and arteries) contain blood that belongs only to your baby. There is no interference with your blood. That is why the cord collects valuable information about your child’s health.
  • The echocardiogram of the cord performed in utero gives information on growth retardation.
  • From the nineteenth week after the last menstrual period, it is possible to make a puncture. Fetal blood sampling in the cord vein carried out under ultrasound control, allows detection of contagious diseases, measurement of oxygenation of the fetus and diagnosis and treatment of certain anemias or immune deficiencies of the baby.
  • In some cases ( blood mismatch between the mother and the fetus), it is also possible to transfuse it in utero by the cord.

What problems can he have?

  • Since the cord is very stiff, problems are rare. It can withstand a traction of 5 to 6 kg, and its elasticity allows him to allow himself to be crushed without being compressed.
  • Some newborns have an unusually short cord, between 20 and 30 cm, but most often this one has the advantage of being covered with much jelly, and therefore to be well protected from the compressions. However, this size makes it more susceptible to stretching caused during childbirth. At the time of the child’s engagement, the blood supply may be poorer, and a cesarean section may need to be considered.
  • At the date of delivery, it happens when the pouch breaks that the cord is drawn down (this is the procidence of the cord ), causing it to be compressed. This incident is immediately reported to the obstetric team through monitoring, as it results in a slower heart rate. Surveillance will be strengthened and the team ready to intervene to speed up the work (with forceps …) or perform a caesarian section if the incident continues.
  • Another subject of the anxiety of the mothers during the pregnancy: the famous knots of the cord! An unexplained anxiety … Of course, it happens that one discovers at the time of the delivery a loop invisible to the ultrasound, but in 99% of the cases, this has no repercussion on the baby.

Moreover, the umbilical cord around the neck at birth?

  • The cord around the neck at the time of delivery is a serious concern to mothers. Called “a circular” by the professionals of the birth, it is a current situation and well controlled by the medical team. Either the cord is not very tight around the neck (“a loose circular”) and, slowly, the team comes to make a loop and to pass the cord over the head to release it. Either the child presents himself with a very tight circular, and in this case, before the first shoulder is removed, two pliers are placed on the cord and cut in the middle so that it does not risk to pull on the neck of the baby.
  • When this happens, it is sometimes necessary to perform a Caesarean section.
  • You may also be interested in: Caesarean section: answers to your questions

At what point does it become useless?

  • If technically it is the dad or the midwife who cuts the umbilical cord, physiologically, it is the cord that stops of itself to assure the feeding of the baby from its first inspiration. The air filled his lungs; his first cry rang out. During this time, his “breathing” provided by the cord stops naturally.
  • Before this, to avoid a circulation-return of the child towards the mother which would cause a hemorrhage, it is necessary to clamp the cord. A surgical forceps stops the flow between the mother and the child. A second clamp is then added and the dad can, if he wishes, cut it safely. Contrary to preconceived notions, the baby feels no pain at the moment of the section of this mother-child bond, because the umbilical cord is devoid of nerve.

We recommend reading the article: Preparing to give birth with Pilates