A nuchal cord is an umbilical cord that is wrapped around the fetus's neck.
A nuchal cord occurs in about one fourth of deliveries. Normally, the baby is not harmed.
Before birth, a nuchal cord can sometimes be detected by ultrasonography, but no action is required. Doctors routinely check for it as they deliver the baby. If they feel it, they can slip the cord over the baby's head. Sometimes if the cord is tightly wrapped, it is clamped and cut before the shoulders are delivered.
Last full review/revision June 2013 by Julie S. Moldenhauer, MD