Umbilical cord: the bond between you and your baby

The umbilical cord is the strongest connection between you and your baby while they are still growing in your womb. Here you can find out what the umbilical cord does.

The umbilical cord connects your unborn child to your placenta and thus to your bloodstream. The vascular trunk ensures that your child is supplied with all the nutrients it needs.

How is the umbilical cord formed?

At the beginning of your pregnancy, the lining of the fetus fuses with the lining of the uterus to form the placenta . Small, blood-filled cavities form within the placenta. The two arteries and the vein of the umbilical cord form from these cavities. It grows about 50 to 60 centimeters long and two centimeters thick. Most often it is twisted in a spiral.

What are the functions of the umbilical cord?

The umbilical cord has two arteries and one vein surrounded by strong connective tissue. The vein supplies the unborn child with blood. In addition to oxygen, the blood also contains the nutrients that your baby needs for its development. The two arteries, on the other hand, transport the blood from the child to the placenta. Waste products such as carbon dioxide are sent to the mother via the arteries.

What complications can occur?

The umbilical cord is not only vital for your child, it can sometimes also be dangerous for the unborn child. This is when the umbilical cord becomes knotted or kinked. This is triggered by the movements of the child in the womb. This can disrupt blood circulation.

In 20 to 30 percent of cases, the umbilical cord is wrapped around the child’s body parts or neck at birth. If it’s pinched, it can lead to the baby not getting enough oxygen. Sometimes it is then necessary to complete the birth with the help of forceps or to do a caesarean section . However, because the umbilical cord is stretchy, many babies can still be delivered normally.

In the so-called umbilical cord prolapse, the umbilical cord protrudes in front of the child’s body when the membranes rupture . One then speaks of an umbilical cord presence. Your baby will then usually be delivered by caesarean section.

When the umbilical cord ruptures, organs in the unborn baby protrude through the umbilicus into the umbilical cord. A hernia of the umbilical cord is usually treated surgically immediately after birth.

What happens to the umbilical cord after birth?

When your baby is born, it has its own functioning bloodstream. The connection between you and your baby is no longer needed. It is clamped with two clamps and severed. The remainder of the umbilical cord, which dries up and falls off after two weeks at the latest, is closed with a plastic clip. Stem cells are contained in the blood of the umbilical cord. It is hoped that they can be useful throughout life and, for example, heal damaged organs or diseases. If desired, these stem cells can be frozen and preserved .

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