Expecting mothers experience a basket full of different emotions. We know this to be true. There’s excitement and joy as they learn of the new life growing inside of them. But there are also days filled with fear.
Some are valid, rational, and legitimate fears. Then there are some that are too overwhelming when imagined but in reality, are only oversized because of myths and rumors.
The emergency of the nuchal cord is one of them. Some of you may be aware of it, and others may be living in fear of it. In hushed whispers, new expecting mothers have wondered, “why is this so scary?”
In today’s blog, we debunk the myths that surround the nuchal cord – something that occurs when your baby has their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck. It can happen throughout your pregnancy, labor, or birth.
The umbilical cord is your baby’s connection to life. It gives them all that they need, from their blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Any problem involving the umbilical cord can be worrying. But here’s a fact, a majority of nuchal cords aren’t dangerous in any way.
We don’t want our Casa Natal mamas to be enveloped in fear. Being informed gives you the power to make crucial decisions throughout your pregnancy and birth. Say goodbye to these nuchal cord myths!
“The nuchal cord is rare”
One reason mothers are wrongfully anxious about the nuchal cord is the belief that it’s rare and therefore dangerous. You will be surprised to know that it’s probably already happened to your baby inside. Without you knowing and without any complications!
You of all people know that the baby in your belly moves around quite a lot. It’s common for them to get tangled in their own cord and wind up with it wrapped around their bellies or necks. Studies show that nuchal cord occurs in 20% to 30% of births (Mercer et al. 2010).
Up to half of these nuchal cords resolve before delivery. The cord is covered in what is called “Wharton’s jelly” and is designed to withstand the movements and compression of an acrobatic little baby.
“Nuchal cord complications are caused by the mother or the baby”
Most of us have heard a traumatic birth story or two. And most times, it involves a nuchal cord complication and a guilt-ridden mother.
Please know, there is no way to avoid a nuchal cord. And this is never caused by anything the mother has done.
Some of the reasons a nuchal cord happens:
- When your cord has insufficient Wharton’s jelly, it becomes harder for the cord to untangle.
- When the cord is especially long.
- When you have twins or more.
- When you have an excess of amniotic fluids.
“The nuchal cord is lethal to a mother and child”
We’ve established that nuchal cords are common and can happen to any pregnancy by no fault of the mother or baby. The question still remains: how likely is it to cause perinatal death?
Be assured: research has found that the nuchal cord is not associated with morbidity or mortality for the baby during pregnancy. Babies can get the cord wrapped around their necks a couple of times throughout pregnancy and still be completely fine.
“The nuchal cord can be prevented”
Dear Mama, there’s no exercise or secret drink that can prevent or treat a nuchal cord. If you’ve been diagnosed with a nuchal cord during your pregnancy, the first and best response is to not panic. The cord may unravel through the course of your pregnancy. If not, your baby can still be born safely. Your healthcare professionals are trained and skilled to manage this during labor.
If your baby is born with the cord around their neck, your midwives at Casa Natal are trained and experienced to gently slip off the cord.
What Should You Do Now?
We don’t want to sugarcoat matters with you. Any number of complications can happen during pregnancy. That doesn’t mean it will happen! What’s important is for you to manage your stress for yourself and the beautiful growing life inside of you.
Talk to your midwife. Discuss methods of management. Learn the benefits of delayed cord clamping (we’ll cover this next!).
We strongly champion a stress-free and positive pregnancy. Here are some reminders as you enjoy this special journey.
Listen to your body. Rest and relax – when there’s a need to overcompensate, stress can overtake you. Instead, consciously schedule time within your day to do relaxing activities like listening to music, reading books, or spending time with your partner.
Sweat it out – feeling anxious? Enjoy a swim or a light walk. Commit to pregnancy exercise or yoga. Being good to your body helps you feel good about yourself.
Discuss pregnancy – whenever you feel worried about your pregnancy, clear your doubts with your midwife. Talk things through with your doula, express your concern with your partner. Don’t ever feel like you can’t talk it out.
Remember: this is your birth and the choice is yours. Say no more to fear-based decisions! Make evidence-based decisions today.