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Pregnant or not, you've probably heard of the umbilical cord. This is of course not surprising, as it plays an important role in the health of your baby in the belly. Through this cord, the baby is connected to the placenta and this is where he gets his nutrients, among other things. In this blog we will tell you everything you need to know about the umbilical cord. We tell you about its function, what it looks like and how it can be cut after delivery. Are you reading along again today? 

The function of the umbilical cord

The umbilical cord plays an important role during pregnancy and for the health of your baby. The umbilical cord connects the baby with the placenta, so your baby gets all the necessary nutrients, oxygen, antibodies and hormones. The placenta is the holy grail for your little one. The placenta takes the nutrients from the blood of the mother and filters it, after which it comes through the umbilical cord to the baby. It also works the other way around. The baby can transport all the waste products and carbon dioxide through the umbilical cord to the placenta, where it is then broken down by the mother's body (Pregnancy Portal, 2020). 

What does an umbilical cord look like?

The umbilical cord can grow as much as 50 centimeters in length and 2 centimeters in width. It can feel thick and rubbery, this is due to the protective layer that protects all the blood vessels (Pregnancy Portal, 2020). The umbilical cord contains two arteries and a normal vein and contains important stem cells for your little one (Kraamzorg de Waarden, s.d.). 

Complications umbilical cord 

Complications around the umbilical cord is not common during pregnancy or delivery. But that means that in few cases, complications can still arise, such as:

  • Knot or umbilical cord entanglement - Because your baby moves around a lot, it can get tangled up with the umbilical cord. Normally, this does not affect a natural birth. The seriousness comes only when there is a multiple entanglement or the knot blocks oxygen to the baby. In these cases, a C-section is performed. 
  • Sagging of the umbilical cord - This means that part of the umbilical cord has ended up underneath the baby, and therefore this part reaches the birth canal first. This can cause your baby to push the umbilical cord closed, depriving him of oxygen.

(Pregnancy Portal, 2020)

Cutting the umbilical cord

Cutting the umbilical cord is perhaps a crazy, but also a beautiful moment. The connection where you as a mom were attached to your baby is often cut by the partner. The connection remains, but you are no longer literally connected. The umbilical cord can be cut in three ways, namely: 

  1. Direct cutting In many deliveries, this option is chosen. Here, the umbilical cord is cut immediately after delivery - also known as afnavelen. Don't worry, this doesn't hurt your baby, as there are no nerves running through the umbilical cord (Kraamzorg de Waarden, s.d.). 
  2. Uit beating - in this way, there is a short wait before cutting the umbilical cord. They say that waiting two or three minutes to cut the umbilical cord has a positive health effect on your little one. This is because the last of the blood from the placenta can still flow to the baby and thus the red blood cells increase. 
  3. Lotus Delivery - Here, the choice is made not to cut the umbilical cord at all, but to let it die. This means that the cord will remain connected to the placenta during this time. Which also means that your baby will remain connected to the umbilical cord and placenta for several more days (Pregnancy Portal, 2020). 

The umbilical stump 

After the umbilical cord is cut, a stump remains. Over the course of five to fourteen days, the stump dries up, becomes hard and black, and falls off on its own. Never pull or pick at the stump, even if it looks like it's about to fall off. What you do need to do is take good care of it. Keep it clean and dry, and make sure the diaper does not cover the stump until it has fallen off. Keep an eye on special activities. Is the navel red and swollen or does it smell foul? If so, your baby may have contracted an infection. If so, contact your midwife (Pregnancy Portal, 2020). 

Well, herewith the umbilical cord from beginning to end explained. This strand is of great importance and is the point of contact between you and your baby. The strand carries exactly what your baby needs and also what he needs to get rid of. What a wonderful instrument the body is! 

Sources: 

Kraamzorg de Waarden. (s.d.). Cutting the umbilical cord. Consulted on November 19, 2021, from https://www.kraamzorgdewaarden.nl/blog/de-navelstreng-doorknippen

Pregnancy Portal. (2020). The umbilical cord: all you need to know. Consulted on November 19, 2021, from https://www.zwangerenportaal.nl/zwanger/de-navelstreng-alles-wat-je-moet-weten

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