Umbilical cords have two arteries and a vein that run the length of it. Those three vessels are surrounded by a special substance called Wharton’s Jelly. This jelly is thick and gelatinous when functional – this is to prevent the baby from accidentally causing it to kink and stop functioning (even true knots in the cord rarely cause problems because the Wharton’s Jelly prevents it from being able to tighten down and occlude blood flow to baby!)
When baby is born, this cord continues to function, providing the baby with not only blood and oxygen – but providing baby TIME! Time to transition to air breathing, experiencing the changes that babies go through at birth. As long as that cord is pulsing, it’s working for the baby the exact same way it did before the baby came out.
Once baby’s breathing and the cord is no longer needed, it goes through its own transformation. The Wharton’s Jelly in the cord begins to liquefy…tightening down on those vessels…clamping them off naturally. The cord slowly becomes thin, white, limp – dramatic changes from the thick purple pulsing entity it was when the baby was born!
Not clamping or cutting the cord until this transformation has occurred provides the baby with the benefit of extra blood, oxygen, gentleness and time!
Here you can see the magical changes of the cord! These pictures are ALL of the same umbilical cord…progressively taken over time.
via Nurturing Hearts Birth Services in Arizona
Check out this video made by Penny Simkin showing how much blood/nutrition is held in the placenta that the baby still needs.