Keeping the umbilical cord intact – now also in preterm births

/ News

Proper care during and after birth is an important health issue concerning both mother and baby, especially so in cases of preterm birth. Babies born too soon often require direct medical support after birth. Sometimes, they do not start to breathe on their own right away. However, lack of oxygen during those first few minutes of life has consistently been linked to a higher risk of long-term and short-term health complications. This is why doctors have started to recognize the importance of the umbilical cord in after-birth care: The umbilical cord, when left intact, can provide the baby with oxygen until they manage to breathe on their own.


© Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus

Motivated by the realization that a functioning umbilical cord can, in fact, aid medical staff in providing care to the baby during the first minutes after birth, a multidisciplinary team, led by Professor Arjan te Pas, developed a special birth trolley at Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands, in 2019. The trolley is built in such a manner as to enable the staff to immediately take care of the (preterm) baby while the baby is still connected via umbilical cord to the mother and can thus still receive oxygen. The team called their trolley “Concord Birth Trolley” – “con” meaning “with” and “cord” as short for “umbilical cord”. The trolleys are already in use at eight Dutch hospitals.


Another added benefit of the trolley is that it becomes possible for parents to be close to their baby right after birth. Often, the medical professionals have to whisk the (preterm) baby away from parents in order to stabilize and treat them. Thanks to the trolley, these necessary medical procedures can be done with the parents in close attendance, allowing parents to witness their baby’s first breaths. This also helps to strengthen the bond between babies and parents – right from the start.


© Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus

The University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus at the Technical University Dresden has now become the first hospital in Germany to use a “Concord Birth Trolley” during a preterm birth. On 19 March, a mother delivered her twins at 34 weeks of pregnancy because they were no longer receiving sufficient support in their mother’s womb – a C-section became necessary. The boy was born first and stabilized in a room next to the delivery room, but his twin sister received care on the trolley, right next to her mother and with the umbilical cord still intact. Thankfully, everyone is doing well.


Professor Michael Albrecht, Chairman of the Board, called the event “a milestone in perinatal medicine”. Indeed, the “Concord Birth Trolley” marks an important step towards improving birth experiences for families and prioritizes their needs while advancing the level of care available for (preterm) babies.


Read the original press release here.