Birth Definitions

Nuchal Cord Definition


Nuchal Cord, also known as True Knot, is a condition that can occur during pregnancy when the umbilical cord becomes entangled around the baby’s neck. This can happen either before or during labor and delivery. Nuchal cords are more common than you might think, occurring in about 1 in 3 pregnancies. 

Risk Factors and Complications

There are several risk factors associated with nuchal cord development. These include:

  • Advanced maternal age (35 years or older)
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART)
  • Multiple gestation pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Breech position (bottom first instead of head first)
  • Excess amniotic fluid surrounding the baby

While most nuchal cords are benign, there are some potential complications associated with this condition. These include:

  • Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
  • Preterm labor
  • Placental abruption 
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Fetal distress 
  • Fetal hypoxia (decreased oxygen supply to the fetus)
  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Fetal entrapment
  • Birth defects
  • Stillbirth

This image shows how often the term ‘Nuchal Cord’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

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