Nuchal Cord

When the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck this is called a nuchal cord. This is very common and not dangerous.

About 25-35% of normal deliveries have a nuchal cord present. This is not a problem and will not hurt your baby.

It is not uncommon for doctors and nurses to blame a nuchal cord on abnormalities we see on the fetal monitor. This is unfortunate and although I have been guilty of this myself, there is no reason to believe that the nuchal cord really caused the problem. I have delivered many babies with a nuchal cord whose monitor strips are perfect. It is also very common to deliver a baby without a nuchal cord and have the nurses surprised and almost disappointed. They saw things on the fetal monitor strip that they thought for sure were due to a nuchal cord when no nuchal cord was present.

If a nuchal cord is seen on ultrasound prior to delivery of your baby, don’t worry. The baby will be fine and no special precautions need to be taken. This can be very frightening for people and is one of the reasons I discourage a late third trimester ultrasound just to get “one last look at the baby”.

Please do not be afraid of a nuchal cord, it will not hurt your baby and having a normal vaginal delivery is very safe even when we know a cord around the baby’s neck is present.