WHAT IS WHAR­TON’S JELLY?

Your Pregnancy - - Month By Month -

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.

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