Magic Umbilical Cords

Posted January 7th, 2012 in birth, Birth Doula in Fresno, Fresno birth, Fresno Birth Doula, Pregnancy, Umbilical Cords by Kathryn DiPalma

While attending a woman in labor, I find the excitement of ‘the moment amazing!  I am usually the one who is responsible for taking photos immediately, and am not able to always get a clear picture of what the umbilical looks like up close.  After reading this article I am in awe over this process that takes place.  I can’t wait  for my next birth so I can really watch this happen in ‘real life’.  Thank you Nurturing Hearts Birth Services for posting such clear and beautiful pictures!

Magic Umbilical Cords:

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 functinoal – 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 liquify…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.


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!


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

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