WHAT IS WHARTON’S JELLY?
First named by Thomas Wharton in 1656, this gelatinous substance’s function is to provide support for the vein and arteries of the umbilical cord.
Within 30 seconds to two minutes of birth (sometimes longer), the cord is clamped in two places with artery forceps and then cut between the two forceps – and mother and baby are separated. Then a sterile plastic umbilical clamp is attached to the cord about 2.5cm above the umbilicus and the forceps are removed. The caregiver will make sure that the clasps in the clamp are tightly closed so as to prevent any bleeding from the cord. The end stump of the cord is cut just above the plastic clamp. The cord will be closely examined to make sure that three blood vessels are present. One large open vein, oozing blood and two partly closed rod-shaped arteries. When it’s cut, it resembles a rubbery tube hanging from your little one’s navel.
In a vaginal delivery, once the doctor has clamped the cord with the artery forceps, your partner may be allowed to cut the cord with sterile, sharp scissors. In a caesarean delivery, the doctor will cut the cord and your partner will not be allowed to do so, as he could contaminate the sterile field during surgery. Should you wish to ask for permission to do this during a surgical delivery, please discuss this with your caregiver during one of your visits.
Should you wish to delay cutting of the cord or wish to collect cord blood for testing or stem cell banking this must be discussed and organised before your baby is born so everyone is prepared.
Your baby’s cord feels cool and looks blue-white right after he is born. The stump will start to dry and turn yellow/ brown within hours of the birth. It becomes hard and there may be some stickiness at the bottom of the stump. The stump will continue to dry out, turn black, and fall off. You may also see a few drops of blood around the stump as it begins to fall off. Don’t pull it off as this could cause infection. If the cord site gets red and hot and starts weeping fluid, consult your doctor urgently.