Cord Around Baby’s Neck Is NOT Automatic Emergency

by Birth Without Fear on October 10, 2011

Elizabeth sent her amazing birth pictures to me from her midwife assisted home water birth of her son January 6, 2010. He had a 4x nuchal cord (which can be seen in one of this pictures), which caused heart decels into the 70s during pushing as well as a little passed meconium due to distress.

She says, “My midwife was awesome and very professional. The only intervention was to put me on oxygen the last few contractions. Once he was born, we kept his cord intact and he had no problems breathing on his own. His APGARS were 9/9. He was 7lbs 6oz, 20 3/4″ long and had a 48” long umbilical cord.


cord around neck

home water birth

I think this is so amazing and not many have pics of this, even though it is not uncommon. I cropped the pictures of just the baby to get one more look…

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Malani Heyman October 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

Wow that is amazing!!!! Kudos to the mom and midwife. Most doctors would have done like an emergency c section for the decels being that low. Good job Mama and what a beautiful baby boy!!!


Christine M. October 10, 2011 at 10:37 am

SAME thing happened with my 4th homebirth last April! So glad you shared! I have a great video (bad quality – cell phone) of the midwife unwrapping the cord one – two – three – four! that I might have to youtube now just for the sake of awesome sharing!


Jay Kelly October 10, 2011 at 10:40 am

When my first baby was born almost 11 years ago, the answer to finding her cord around her neck 4 times was to cut the cord with only her head out… so oxygen & blood supply was lost totally, before she was even delivered. She then had to be resuscitated after being pulled out. I remember thinking it was like taking a snorkel off a diver, because it is slightly blocked, rather than letting him have the little bit of air that he is drawing in.
Well done to all involved in this birth.


Carolyn P October 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

What a lucky momma and baby. My son had a nuchal cord x6 and I had an emergency c section with him. I never saw what the cord looked like around his little neck. These pictures are amazing


Kristin October 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Wow. Thanks so much for sharing! After failing several NST tests at 39 plus 5, an ultrasound showed the cord 3x around my sons neck. I wasn’t really given much option (“you could be induced and try to labor but you don’t know what it will do to your baby or just have the csection now”…if only I had known!). You could imagine my surprise and everyone else’s when I heard the ob and his team counting “1,2,3,4,5,6,7” as my son entered the room! Yup, the cord times 7 around his neck and thankfully, I made a long cord because it was on loosely! He’s still my miracle boy but boy, I wish I had found this blog beforehand! Again, thanks for sharing!


Mrs. BWF October 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Wow! Amazing. So glad you and baby were safe. What a blessing!


Cord-Clamping.Com October 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Thank you very much for sharing Elizabeth’s image and raising awareness that baby’s can be born with the cord around the neck. For anyone interested in learning more about nuchal cord management and the importance of leaving the cord intact, google Judith Mercer.

I am currently preparing an article on pre-birth cord cutting (the training, what the evidence says and women’s and babies experiences) and would sincerely appreciate the input of women’s stories and experience with nuchal cords (being ‘managed’, cut or left alone).


kerrinish October 11, 2011 at 4:41 am

Great pictures! My homebirthed baby had the cord around his neck 4 times too, we couldn’t lift it over his head so just spun him around a few times to free him of it 🙂 His face was purple when he came out but he pinked up very quickly and continues to be the most perfect baby ever 🙂 I have video of it I think (not sure if it’s very visible, will have to watch the video again)


Claire October 11, 2011 at 5:09 am

Wow! What amazing pictures! Midwife Thinking also has a fantastic article on nuchal cords – she did her PhD on them!

Can’t get over those amazing pics! 🙂


Tamlyn October 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Wow! What an amazing story. Congratulations to you and your family!


Connie October 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Yes, truly amazing~congratulations!!! I would like to share a little info on nuchal cords which I have learned. Nuchal cords come under the category of the Umbilical Cord. There are 2 types of nuchal cords, A & B. Type A encircles the neck in an unlocked pattern. Types B encircles the neck in a locked pattern and this second type is responsible for 1 in 50 stillbirths according to Dr. Jason Collins, MD of The Pregnancy Institute, in New Roads, LA.

Nuchal cords are extremely common and most babies can wriggle their way out of them – and they do!!! But, that being said, all nuchal cords have the potential to be extremely problematic. I think the most important aspect of any type of any umbilical cord issue is to be aware of its presence, so if baby starts having changes in patterns of movement or heart decelerations you will know the probable cause. Umbilical cord accidents (uca), including nuchal cords, true knots, twists, torsion, kinks and long or short cords account for 30% of the 30,000+ stillbirths in the USA yearly. That is 82 each and every day in our country. They are not a “rare condition or event ” and should be watched for in the last trimester of pregnancy especially.

Just like mammograms and colonoscopies are prevention for the masses, getting to know your baby’s movements can help ensure a happy, healthy and hearty delivery.All moms need to learn how to be their baby’s “in utero” advocate. A change in baby’s movements such as speeding up or slowing down could be the sign of a compromised baby ~ call your doctor, midwife or health care team for further medical evaluation ~ and trust your gut.

Big Hugs,


Mrs. BWF October 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Hi Connie,

Thank you for the valuable information for our readers! Do you have links to share where you got your information? Thank you!


Cord-Clamping.Com October 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Where ultrasounds are routinely done and in various studies, nuchal cords are calculated to occur in approximately 30% of all pregnancies at any given stage, and between 22-33% of all births.
Therefore, a certain number of babies that are stillborn or delivered via c-section will have nuchal cords – even if the cord looping was unrelated to the death or fetal distress. So (it has been argued) that nuchal cords may often be incorrectly diagnosed as the cause of death.

A ‘locked’ umbilical cord may have only tightened during the final stages of the birth – in may only be a matter of minutes of compression on the baby, cord and head compression to results in decels and the baby being born hypoxic and hypovolemic. The problem for this baby is that our current ‘management’ of the cord makes this situation critical. Medical training instructs practitioners to cut the cord before delivery of the shoulders or cut the cord immediately to relocate the baby for resuscitation (a practice introduced without evidence!).

Both responses sever the baby from any chance of correcting the blood volume and resuming a normal circulation and successful transition.

A baby can be severely compromised by this response to a tight nuchal cord, however the coroner’s findings won’t state immediate cord clamping and uncorrected hypoxia/hypovolemia – the coroners report will state “asphyxia from umbilical cord around the neck”.

We have a lot to learn, and the sooner that researchers can compares the outcomes of babies born with tight nuchal cord born at home vs hospital, or babies assisted with the cord left intact, the sooner we will have evidence sufficient to change medical practice!


Cord-Clamping.Com October 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Here is a mothers experoence where the birth care provider cut the cord instead:


Mahla August 29, 2012 at 6:35 am

I know it can seem like a really scary thing, but in an effort to ‘normalise’ nuchal cord, something which is present in nearly 1/3 of cases shouldnt automatically be considered an emergency or dangerous, but a variation of normal- as this beautiful story and fantastic photographs deomstrate! one theory (I think it’s a pretty good one) is that a healthy baby with a long cord will purposefully put their cord somewhere safe to prevent a cord prolapse…which is a genuine emergency!


Vanessa November 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I think one of the things you have to think of when a cord is wrapped around a baby’s neck is that, you CANNOT strangle a baby! The danger is not as much the cord around the neck, but the cord itself getting pinched and thereby restricting blood flow (oxygen) to the baby. As long as the cord is not compressed, a cord around the neck is the same as a cord around the leg. Yes, you do have to remove the cord before baby can take that first breath, and maybe if the cord is tight enough, blood flow to the brain would be an issue but I think we are all mislead a little when we say “oh dear the cord was around the neck!”


Paparu January 24, 2014 at 10:10 am

I am totally encouraged by all the stories above. I am pregnant with my fourth (32 weeks), and the scan shows that the cord is wrapped twice around the neck. I was totally worried. Now I can relax and enjoy the remaining weeks of my pregnancy. Thank you all for sharing.


Raven October 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Still no one gives instructions on how to fix the type B… going to the hospital obviously ISN’T a good idea, since they will cut the cord… so what should be done for the type B cord?


Dr. Peesay October 10, 2015 at 7:52 pm

We are presenting a poster on nuchal cords and would like to use your multiple nuchal cord picture. Please give us permission if possible. Thanks so much. Have a great weekend.


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