During pregnancy, the umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and baby. It connects the baby to the placenta and provides the oxygen and nourishment they need for those first nine months.


1. Anatomy of the Umbilical Cord

When the umbilical cord first forms, it is made up of two arteries and two veins. In most cases, one of the veins atrophies and forms a three-vessel cord. This leaves one vein that carries oxygenated blood from the placenta to the fetus and two arteries that carry blood from the fetus back to the placenta.

Umbilical Cord Fetus 7activestudio / Getty Images

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