Magic Umbilical Cords

I am amazed by just about everything having to do with birth….mothers, the creation of babies from a sperm and egg, the childbirth process, the placenta, the umbilical cord…

Aaahhhh….that umbilical cord. That magical connection that grows life. It filters, it provides, it knows when to start and it knows when baby no longer needs it.

 For more information about the umbilical cord and it’s importance at birth, please see my supplemental blog post here – Clamping Umbilical Cords

I’ve often tried to explain to people the incredible changes that happen at birth – including to the umbilical cord – but I’ve had a hard time finding images to demonstrate what I’m trying to explain.

Until now! I recently attended a birth and asked the mother permission to take photographs of her baby’s umbilical cord to document the changes it goes through after the birth – and she said yes!

Umbilical cords have two arteries and a vein that run the length of it. Those three vessels are surrounded by a special substance called Wharton’s Jelly. This jelly is thick and gelatinous when functional – this is to prevent the baby from accidentally causing it to kink and stop functioning (even true knots in the cord rarely cause problems because the Wharton’s Jelly prevents it from being able to tighten down and occlude blood flow to baby!)

When baby is born, this cord continues to function, providing the baby with not only blood and oxygen – but providing baby TIME! Time to transition to air breathing, experiencing the changes that babies go through at birth. As long as that cord is pulsing, it’s working for the baby the exact same way it did before the baby came out.

Once baby’s breathing and the cord is no longer needed, it goes through its own transformation. The Wharton’s Jelly in the cord begins to liquefy…tightening down on those vessels…clamping them off naturally. The cord slowly becomes thin, white, limp – dramatic changes from the thick purple pulsing entity it was when the baby was born!

Not clamping or cutting the cord until this transformation has occurred provides the baby with the benefit of extra blood, oxygen, gentleness and time!

Here you can see the magical changes of the cord! These pictures are ALL of the same umbilical cord…progressively taken over time.

THE FOLLOWING PICTURES WERE TAKEN OVER A PERIOD OF ABOUT 15 MINUTES – BABY WAS ATTACHED THE ENTIRE TIME….

 

PLEASE REMEMBER TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE….DO NOT JUST TAKE THE PICTURES FROM THIS PAGE WITHOUT LINKING OR GIVING CREDIT BACK TO THIS BLOG!!!  THANK YOU!

Brand new! Right after birth the cord is thick, pulsing. We could actually SEE it thumping with the baby’s heartbeat.

 

There’s already a difference!! Look at how much thinner it is – less purple, less ‘tight’…

 

Less purple…thinner….

 

same piece of cord, same angle….now MUCH whiter, much thinner. But still not done with the transformation! You might think so though, huh! No…just wait.

 

NOW we are pretty much finished with the transformation. Compare this to the top picture of the same piece of cord….

 

Completely done, Wharton’s Jelly has liquified, the cord is not pulsing…it is thin, white, and very limp. Amazing!

PLEASE REMEMBER TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE….DO NOT JUST TAKE THE PICTURES FROM THIS PAGE WITHOUT LINKING OR GIVING CREDIT BACK TO THIS BLOG!!!  THANK YOU!

And here they are all in a row for you to see…..

3 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this visual explanation of what the cord does as it continues to pulse. Since you first shared these images, I have shared this link with every childbirth class I have taught and it gives them such a deeper understanding of the process. Thank you for helping us help families understand the birthing process better.

    Gratefully…

    Monday, July 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  2. Lyn wrote:

    I had my little boy at home and decided to delay cord cutting. It was about 15 minutes before we cut it and pretty much exactly as the photos show. When the cord was cut it was completely white and a little bit cold!

    Monday, August 25, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink
  3. Wow!! This is absolutely fascinating! I always wondered what the umbilical cord looked like still attached.

    I do have one question.. if the cord is left attatched like the above photos can you still collect and store the cord blood?

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s such a shame that doctors at hospitals and other places are so quick to cut the cord. This is especially true when the baby can receive so many benefits by leaving the umbilical cord attatched until it is no longer needed. If I ever had another baby I would absolutely keep the cord attatched.
    Take care, Terri of Two Pink Peas http://www.twopinkpeas.com

    Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

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