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…..

7 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. Birth Sister wrote:

    Love it! Great photos – thanks for sharing. Will be sharing this article with clients.

    Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 3:34 am | Permalink
  4. Rosa Garfield wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m pregnant with my 2nd and wish I had this information before my first birth.

    Friday, January 22, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  5. Dayna wrote:

    My OB says they will only allow 1-2 minutes after delivery as a delay, saying that they don’t want there to be a back flow of blood to the placenta. What is some good evidence (besides this blog) that I can use when I go into labor (April-ish 2016) to show that it is safe to delay until it quits pulsing???

    Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  6. Sandra Munoz wrote:

    Asking permission to share your link and fotos at my facebooksite. It is http://www.facebook.com/cedemat . I am an ICCE instructor who teaches Childbirth Education in Tijuana, Mexico. Thank you.

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 11:03 pm | Permalink
  7. Rene wrote:

    I am pregnant with my 4th. My last 2 were c sections. It is recommended that I have another c section, can I still ask the dr. To eave the cord attached? Or does the c section prevent the positive effects of leaving the cord attached due to the damaged placenta? Thank you.

    Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] These photos are a great demonstration of how the placenta, cord and baby keep working together after the birth when left intact. They were donated by a family to their midwives and I share them here with permission. If you’d like to see them on the original website, the link is http://www.nurturingheartsbirthservices.com/blog/?p=1542 […]

  2. Delayed Cord Clamping | Pillar of Strength on Monday, January 25, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    […] When the cord has stopped pulsing, it looks much thinner and white. Below is a picture is from Nurturing Hearts Birth Services. She was able to obtain photos of the umbilical cord over a period of fifteen minutes after the […]

  3. Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping - on Monday, April 11, 2016 at 9:35 am

    […] Step-by-step photos of blood transfusion (from placenta to cord) […]

  4. […] photos were taken by Nurturing Hearts Birth Services and show how the cord visibly changes as the blood transfers to the baby after […]

  5. The Umbilical Cord After Birth on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 7:01 am

    […] Magic Umbilical Cords […]

  6. […] img […]

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