The umbilical cord connects the mother and child during pregnancy in the womb. About the placenta, the fetus is connected to the blood circulation of the mother. After the birth, she loses her meaning.

What is an umbilical?

The umbilical cord is a fabric tube that connects the mother's placenta and the child's abdomen. Their development is closely linked to the development of the placenta.

The fertilized egg cell already consists of several cells and continues to develop in the uterus. The outer shell of the egg grows together with the mucous membrane of the uterus, forming the placenta. So it is a combination of maternal and embryonic cells. It not only affects the care of the fetus, but also affects the mother's organism.

Their interior forms cavities filled with blood. From them develop the blood vessels until the fourth week of pregnancy, from which the blood vessels for the umbilical cord form. By the end of the fourth week of pregnancy, the embryo has developed so much that his heart begins to beat.

At that moment, the umbilical cord takes on its function, which is to ensure the supply of nutrients and oxygen. She is also responsible for disposing of metabolic degradation products such as carbon dioxide.

Anatomy & Construction

When the child is born, the umbilical cord is 50 to 60 centimeters long and 1.5 to 2 centimeters thick. It consists of a gelatinous connective tissue that is spirally wound.

The cord consists of collagens, a few fibroblasts and a high amount of hyaluronic acid-binding hyalurons (Wharton-Sulze). She is flexible in being able to accompany the child in his movements and not to hurt it.

During pregnancy, the child also starts to grab the umbilical cord, play with it, bend it, and in part chew on it, so it is under a lot of stress. Their composition protects the inner blood vessels from kinking and thus from interrupting the supply.

Function & Tasks

At the beginning, the umbilical cord still consists of four blood vessels, two of which are umbilical arteries and two umbilical veins. The right umbilical vein regresses during the fourth week of pregnancy.

The arteries bring oxygen- and nutrient-poor but carbon dioxide-rich blood to the placenta, and the veins carry oxygen and nutrients to the child. The exchange takes place in the placenta, without the blood circulation of mother and child over the blood overlap.

After birth and the child's first breath, the umbilical cord loses its task and after cutting it also loses its functionality. It is therefore possible that the child is supplied with both the umbilical cord and his own breathing at the same time.

If the child breathes regularly, she becomes white and limp. At this point, it can be severed without complications. In two places, a few inches away from the child's stomach and a few inches away from the placenta, it is provided with a umbilical clamp.

Then it is cut through. The child has no nerve cells on this part of the umbilical cord, so the severing does not hurt either. The piece, which remains on the child's stomach, is cleaned and connected. Within a few days, it dries up and finally falls off. At this point on the belly, the navel then forms.

Diseases & complaints

If only one umbilical artery is detected, the singular umbilical artery is called. This occurs in about one percent of all pregnancies. If detected, the risk of malformation of chromosomes or organs is increased by 30 to 60 percent.

Even too short umbilical cord can indicate malformations. Thus, it can happen that the fetus can not move sufficiently due to a disturbance in the central nervous system. It may also indicate that the muscles are not well enough trained.

If the umbilical cord is too long, the risk of knotting the umbilical cord is higher. If the child moves too much, the umbilical cord can either bend what is called the wrong node or it forms an actual node.

For the latter, the incidence is one to two percent of pregnancies. In both cases, this is usually not associated with negative consequences for the child, even if the blood circulation may be disturbed for a short time. The tissue that makes up the umbilical usually prevents serious consequences.

A bigger danger is the umbilical cord wrap. So she can put on individual body parts of the child. Just when it's around your neck, it can be dangerous. In 20 to 30 percent of children, such a wrap occurs at birth.

If the umbilical cord is pressed in such a way that the blood flow is disturbed, the child must either be brought to the world as quickly as possible by a forceps delivery or a caesarean section.

A special case is the umbilical cord prolapse. Here, the umbilical cord in front of the child's body gets into the birth canal. Here, too, the birth must take place quickly.

In an umbilical hernia (omphalocele), the child's organs, such as the intestines or liver, emerge from the abdomen. However, they continue to develop outside the abdomen. This is already evident on the ultrasound and can be corrected by surgery immediately after birth.

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