The Long and the Short of It

Some umbilical cords are quite long, and some are short. Genetics must play a role, but not much is ever written about how these cords get to this length. We know that they contain one large vein, and two small arteries. Umbilical cord spirals or twists to the left. We liken it to the twist of a barber pole. If it were yarn we'd nick name the left twist "s-twist" and if the occasional cord twisted to the right popped out with the babe, we'd say, ah-ha, a "z-twist cord"! The twist develops because of the small fetus doing some flipping and turning, and you will see almost two spirals per inch of cord. By 20 weeks the cord is about 15 inches long, and by full term, the cord is typically about 25 inches long, although there is a lot of normal variation.  Some of the longer cords have been known to develop actual true knots. As long as the knot is loose the blood can freely flow to and from the developing infant and it is of no medical significance at all. Although exactly how the cord develops and how to favorably impact that development is not known, after a birth however there is a lot we can learn about a pregnancy from the length and breath of the cord analysis! So let your gyno give yours a good look!


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