Q: I am really worried about the umbilical cord wrapping around my baby's neck. Are there any signs I need to be aware of or any way I can avoid this? I have been really stressed about this. I'll be 30 Weeks this Saturday. Any advice?
A: Although worrying about the umbilical cord getting wrapped around your baby's neck is a very common concern among pregnant women, know that as often as it happens, it rarely causes a problem. Babies are living in water (amniotic fluid) and their in utero environment can be compared to being in a big swimming pool for 9 1/2 months. Particularly in the first and early second trimesters when a baby's size is very small, their constant movement can lead to wrapping the umbilical cord around different parts of their body-- arms, legs and sometimes their necks. In fact, 25 to 40% of babies are born with their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck (called a nuchal cord). There is nothing that can be done to prevent this. But, there is no need to worry. Remember that a baby is getting his or her oxygen supply from you via the umbilical cord, not from air going in the trachea like we do. And, the first thing your practitioner will do once your baby's head comes out during delivery, is slip a finger around the back of the neck to check whether or not there is a cord there. If there is, it's usually loose enough to slip it easily over your baby's head prior to delivering the rest of the body.