Umbilical Cord is Around Baby's Neck

I am 18 weeks pregnant and my ultrasound showed that the umbilical cord was around my baby's neck. My doctor said not to worry. I can't help feeling uneasy about it. Do I have anything to worry about?

Question:

You should not have anything to worry about at this stage of your pregnancy. While it is always possible for undesirable outcomes to occur, we see the cord around the neck at delivery in about thirty percent of all births. In the majority of cases there are no problems. Occasionally there may be some "variable decelerations" on the fetal monitor due to the cord being squeezed or stretched. This slows down blood flow to the baby for a brief time. If conditions worsen you may even need a cesarean to keep the baby healthy. Most babies quickly pass through this stage and normal blood flow resumes, allowing a normal birth.

Earlier in pregnancy, the cord gets wrapped around the baby frequently and often unwraps just as frequently. At 18 weeks the cord and baby just float around in the uterus, getting twisted and untwisted easily. There are stories about too much twisting, "cord accidents," multiple loops of cord around the baby, all of which are true but exceedingly rare. While that doesn't help the few families involved, it is extremely rare and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. One of the concerns that can increase the risk of cord problems is decreased fluid. This doesn't allow the free movement of the baby and cord on and off each other, causing concern about a cord accident. This is not usually of concern in the middle part of pregnancy. Overall, if you can, try not to worry about it, as the likelihood of a problem is no higher than normal. The chance of damaging the baby is very small.

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