Nuchal Cord: Nuchal cord is the term used by medical professionals when the baby has their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck. This can occur during pregnancy, labor, or birth. ... A nuchal cord is also extremely common, with around 1 in 3 babies being born perfectly healthily with the cord wrapped around their neck.
A nuchal cord is a common finding at delivery. In most cases, it is not associated with a significant increase in the rate of any clinically important adverse fetal/neonatal outcome. In case reports and small case series, tight nuchal cords have been associated with adverse outcomes, including fetal asphyxia and demise, but causality often cannot be proven.
The term nuchal cord describes an umbilical cord that passes 360 degrees around the fetal neck. Nuchal cords can be classified as:
●Single or multiple
●Loose or tight (ie, compressing the fetal neck)
As mentioned above, nuchal cords are fairly common. The severity of how it’s treated and resolved varies greatly from provider to provider and, of course, whether it’s causing problems during delivery, all of which is taken into consideration.
I only have a few examples on this blog but some beautiful images (and video) to share so wanted to put a few words with explanations because looking at the images without them can be alarming to some.
This first baby was born at home as an accidental unassisted birth (the midwife had actually arrived but was still outside the door when baby was born into the doula’s arms and handed to mom). Baby came quickly and without incident but had a double nuchal cord (plus a true knot and a single umbilical artery, kinda cool!). Baby was not in distress, pinked up right away and was never in any danger. Both mom and baby were in perfect health.
This next image is from a newer birth. This baby was having a bit of complications being delivered due to a nuchal cord. OB made the decision to clamp and cut in order to free baby. Baby was then swiftly delivered without further any complications whatsoever. This decision was made in the blink of an eye. The Dr. saw something she knew was going to cause a problem (not the nuchal itself but a complication from it) and took care of it quickly. Sometimes the provider is the only one that can see and feel from their vantage point. Baby and mom both safe, healthy and perfect!
This last example is a video from a home birth. This baby had a nuchal cord, wrapped around her neck 4 times and still over her shoulder once out! The umbilical cord was almost 5 feet long, it’s no wonder that baby got kinda tangled in there, ha. Mom needed to try different positions in order for the midwife to help untangle baby and finally help her out safely into mom’s arms. Click play and check out that beautiful birth here: