One of the most common questions we get is how to remove cord around baby’s neck.
“We understand the fear of an expecting mother when she finds out that her baby has a nuchal cord or an umbilical cord around the neck,” says Dr. Swati Sinha, Consultant Obstetrician-Gynecologist at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital in South Delhi, “and we counsel them that it is nothing to worry about most of the time.”
The umbilical cord connects the placenta to the baby and transports oxygen and nutrients. The blood vessels in the cord are protected by a soft, gelatinous substance.
The cord is long and flexible and can move around as the baby moves.
Can you prevent umbilical cord wrapping around?
There is nothing you can do to prevent the umbilical cord from wrapping around the neck of the baby.
There are no symptoms or changes that indicate a cord around the baby’s neck in the womb in the 9th month or even earlier.
How do you know if the baby has cord around neck?
The only way to detect the cord around the neck of the baby is through an ultrasound.
“A nuchal cord is typically found when an expecting mother gets her ultrasound between 33-39 weeks of pregnancy.”
A study notes that infants may display hypovolemia (low levels of plasma), mild respiratory distress and occasionally a dusky face after birth which may occur sometimes with a tight nuchal cord in utero.
Why does a nuchal cord occur?
A nuchal cord may occur due to fetal activity; when the baby shifts, the cord may shift with it.
You may be at an increased risk of developing a cord around the neck with
- Twins or multiple pregnancies
- Excessive amniotic fluid or
- If the umbilical cord is long
It is a natural and common phenomenon and does not occur as a result of anything you may have done.
Is cord around the neck dangerous?
In most cases, having a baby with the cord around the neck is not dangerous.
A nuchal cord occurs in 1 out of 3 babies but most of the time, the baby is born without any complications.
“An umbilical cord may cause concern in rare cases, if it is wrapped tightly around the baby’s neck or if it gets pressed while the baby is descending through the birth canal,” says Dr Swati.
“We advise mothers to follow up regularly so we can assess how the baby is doing.”
How do you remove a double loop of cord around the neck?
There is no particular way to remove a single, double or multiple loops of cord around the neck. The cord can slip off on its own as your baby continues to move in the womb.
“The only action you can take is to stop stressing about it,” emphasizes Dr Swati, “as that will do you no good.”
Is normal delivery possible with cord around neck?
Yes. Babies are often born safely with multiple loops of cord around their necks through normal delivery.
In a few cases when the cord around the neck does not come off the baby easily, your doctor may decide to clamp and cut the cord and then deliver the baby.
How to remove cord around baby’s neck: Success Stories
Many expecting mothers at varied gestation periods have gone on to have normal births despite having reported a cord around the baby’s neck.
Cord around the neck at 32 weeks
Ayesha Mehra, for example, became tense when she was informed the umbilical cord was seen near the nape of her baby’s neck.
Unable to get a satisfactory answer about the condition, she visited us for a second opinion.
“Sometimes the umbilical cord lies adjacent to the baby’s neck and is picked up on the ultrasound as a cord around the neck,” explains Dr Swati.
“This does not mean that the baby is in danger.”
In her subsequent ultrasound, the cord had shifted away from the baby’s neck.
Cord around neck at 33 weeks
When Kashish Pal’s ultrasound report mentioned a single loop of cord around the neck of her baby, she panicked.
“I wondered if it was because of something I ate or any exercises I did that the cord wound itself around the baby’s neck.”
“I wanted to do everything possible to keep my baby safe,” said Kashish, “ so when I heard about Sitaram Bhartia’s commitment towards normal deliveries, I knew they would be the right choice for a second opinion.”
“The doctor reassured me the single loop of cord did not warrant surgery.”
“That gave me the confidence to switch hospitals in the 8th month of pregnancy, despite living several kilometers away from the hospital.”
“Kashish’s baby was born with a nuchal cord, but had no complications. Both mother and baby were absolutely fine, “ shares Dr Swati.
Cord around neck at 37 weeks
Another first-time mother, Divya Singh, was afraid she would have to undergo a cesarean section at 37 weeks because of a double loop of cord around the neck.
Determined to have a normal delivery, she approached us for advice on how to remove cord around baby’s neck.
“The doctor allayed my fears and explained they would monitor the baby’s development every week to detect any changes,” recalls Divya.
“I followed her advice and did not do anything to try to remove the nuchal cord. The cord unwrapped itself before delivery and my daughter was born happy and healthy!”
Read Divya’s story here: Cord around the Neck: Is a Cesarean Necessary?
Are there any complications due to a nuchal cord?
Nuchal cords are rarely associated with complications.
If the cord is wrapped very tightly or gets compressed during labour and restricts the flow of oxygen to the baby, an emergency cesarean section may be required.
Between 2016-18, over 200 mothers have had an uncomplicated normal delivery at Sitaram Bhartia despite having a cord around their babies’ necks.
Hear Dr Swati Sinha explain the different situations of cord around the neck in this video.
Q& A on How to Remove Cord around Baby’s Neck
Are there any precautions for cord around neck ?
There are no precautions to take for cord around the neck. You may continue to eat, exercise and perform your daily chores as advised by your gynecologist.
Does having a cord around neck indicate a boy or girl?
A cord around the neck is a natural occurrence and is not scientifically proven to be linked to any gender.
Is there any meaning for a baby born with cord around neck in astrology?
As clinicians we cannot say whether there is any significance of a cord around the neck in astrology. Scientifically, however, it does not indicate any underlying condition.
Are there any long-term effects of an umbilical cord around neck?
There is no long-term impact of an umbilical cord around the neck. However, in very few instances, if the oxygen flow to the baby is reduced, it may lead to brain damage and development delays.
We believe all expecting mothers should be well-informed and prepared for birth. Come in for a free second opinion at our hospital in South Delhi. Please call on +91 9871001458 to schedule a free consultation.
If you have a question that has not been answered, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
This article has been written with editorial inputs from Dr. Swati Sinha, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital.
Dr. Swati Sinha, MBBS, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi (1996); MD (Obstetrics & Gynaecology), Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi (2001); MRCOG Part 1 (October 2010)