It’s no wonder they call childbirth a miracle. For nine whole months—or nine if you’re lucky—conditions have to be near perfect for a healthy baby to emerge with a cry nearly a year later. When complications arise, it can happen at any stage of the pregnancy and turn the situation on its head in a moment.
For instance, the umbilical cord is what provides the baby oxygen and nutrients as it develops in the womb. But it can also be a potential hazard for a baby if the length or development of the cord—or the position as time goes on—becomes problematic.
One risk doctors look for early on is making sure the umbilical cord doesn’t wrap around the baby—and if it does, to make sure that it doesn’t get pulled tight during or before delivery, so that the baby stays safe. Another complication is that the cord can knot.
Oftentimes, if the cord knots it’s visible on the ultrasound. If the knot gets pulled tight—the baby’s oxygen source can be cut off partially or even entirely. The cord can knot in about 1 percent of pregnancies, and one in 2,000 deliveries. The later the term, the more likely it is for the cord to knot. A “true knot” is when the cord completely knots and gets pulled tight—becoming very dangerous. In these cases, if a baby survives, it may not be healthy.
One father was in the delivery room as his wife and their doctor delivered the baby. They hadn’t foreseen any complications, and after the baby was delivered, the doctor declared it healthy.
Then the doctor noticed the umbilical cord, and motioned the father closer.
“Hurry up dad, take a picture—your baby is a miracle,” the doctor said.
The cord had pulled itself into a true knot, tight enough that it would normally cause complications—but this baby was totally fine.
So he indeed snapped a photo to share to reddit, which then racked up thousands of votes and comments.
Other parents and medical professionals shared their surprise, and other stories where the outcome wasn’t always so miraculous. An anesthesiologist shared one of her saddest stories—where a true knot formed just the night before a woman was scheduled for a C-section, and her baby wasn’t so lucky.
But despite the fact that these complications come out of seemingly nowhere, it’s important for prospective and expecting parents to remember that they are not the norm.
Heartbreaking and close-call stories that parents share about their infants and young children get much traction because they serve as an educational warning, but it’s important to not let that cloud one’s perspective. If you have worries, you should consult your physician for your specific health condition and situation.
And just as quickly as these shocking complications can occur, there are as many stories of miraculous outcomes as there are warnings.
In this case, a knot had formed the last minute, but the baby was unaffected.
The wisdom of the body! A true knot in an umbilical cord, thank you Whartons Jelly for keeping the knot in check! #wisdomofthebody #Healthybirths #naturalbirth #homebirth
As another Redditor shared, they were born with the umbilical cord wrapped “twice around my neck.” It just so happened that his doctor was a rookie and froze in shock—but his dad went and calmly just unwrapped that cord, saving his life.
Another user shared a similar situation with her daughter; the doctors noticed the cord wrapped around her neck via ultrasound, but did everything they could to make sure she would survive. They ended up getting a C-section under the “worst case scenario” and got the baby out with a “vacuum pump”—but in the end, everything was alright.
“Rest easy, you’re in good hands in most health care facilities in the first world,” he wrote.
“I know that won’t assuage the fear, but use that knowledge as a rock when it gets difficult, it might save you a few moments of restlessness,” he wrote.