How Many Vessels In Umbilical Cord
It’s not a pretty sight when you cut open an umbilical cord, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When your doctor or midwife cuts into your belly at birth to deliver your new baby, she’ll find three things: a thin-walled bag containing all of the baby’s organs, a network of blood vessels called the umbilical cord, and amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. You may also notice some mucus in the opening between the fetal head and the end of the cord. This is known as “meconium,” which means the baby has recently expelled its first bowel movement.
Your baby is attached by a long section of cord — about 18 feet (5.5 meters) in length — that runs through the vaginal canal and out of the body just below the pubic bone. Your doctor will cut this cord right after you leave the hospital, and then tie off each end so that no blood can flow through them. That’s because there are only three vessels running through the cord: two arteries and one vein. The artery carries deoxygenated blood away from the heart and toward the lungs. Once the blood gets there, the oxygen starts to break down into carbon dioxide, and the process begins again. Oxygenated blood returns back to the heart via the vein.
This arrangement allows for the fact that mothers need less blood than they do energy to push their babies out of the womb. It also explains why your newborn has such a low pulse rate — typically around 60 beats per minute. A lower heart rate helps keep the blood circulating throughout the body while the brain develops.
Once the cord is snipped and the baby emerges, the next step is to clamp off both ends of the cord with clamps. Clamping the cord prevents any more blood from flowing through it. Then, the nurse puts pressure on the umbilical cord with her hands, which squeezes the blood within it until it drains out of the vessels and into the larger circulation system.
Next up we’ll take a look at what happens during labor once the blood stops flowing through the umbilical cord.
When the Newborn Is Ready For Action
While the infant’s heart rate slows down, the uterus contracts to expel the fetus from the body. After birth, the nurse removes the clamps and ties off the remaining segment of the umbilical cord. She then cuts the stump to prevent infection. Within a few days, the skin will begin to form over the wound. As time goes on, you’ll probably get used to wearing something under the bandage to catch any fluids leaking through the hole left where the umbilicus was.
As soon as the umbilical cord falls off, the baby takes his place in the world. He immediately tries to latch onto anything he sees, including his mother’s breast and even other people’s fingers. Breastfeeding is the natural solution for feeding newborn infants, though most breastfeeding mothers don’t realize it at the time. Babies who aren’t fed directly with the mother’s milk lose weight quickly, and they’re often irritable and cranky. If your baby isn’t nursing well, consult your pediatrician or lactation consultant for help figuring out how to feed him.
After feeding, the baby usually sleeps for several hours before getting up and trying to crawl. Crawling is another instinctive behavior that ensures survival among humans. By moving forward, the child essentially moves further away from the danger that caused the parent to go into labor. While crawling, the baby uses his palms and knees instead of pushing off with his arms like adults do.
Newborns should sleep about 20 hours a day, and they tend to wake up frequently during the night to urinate. They spend the rest of the time sucking, sleeping or crying. Crying provides important emotional relief for many parents. But if your baby seems distressed for no apparent reason, call your doctor or local health department. There could be something wrong.
Now that you know about the different types of vessels in an umbilical cord, let’s move on to the last chapter of our book, where we talk about pregnancy tests.
Pregnancy Test FAQ
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