Birth Story: ‘My baby was born with two true cord knots’

Posted in Birth Stories.

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Being a placenta encapsulator for three years, Ysee Batterham has seen more than 200 placentas and umbilical cords, but she’d never laid eyes on anything like her second baby’s unique lifeline.

The discovery of baby Téo’s double true knot cord was a fitting end to an emotion-filled pregnancy.

An IVF journey

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Originally from France, Ysee met her Aussie husband Cheyne while travelling. The couple were itching to start a family. But after a year of trying turned to IVF in 2018 to conceive their first little boy, Max. They also had three embryos they were able to freeze.

“Two years later we decided to do an embryo transfer, unfortunately, we lost one embryo during thawing and the one transferred did not take,” Ysee told Mum’s Grapevine.

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“We took the decision to do a back to back transfer the following month with our last remaining little embryo. The date he was transferred was special to me as it was my beloved grandmother death anniversary.

“Once I got confirmation our transfer worked and little Téo was on his way, I realised that his due date of the 24th of February was only three days after my grandmother’s birthday. So for me from the really beginning I always said he was going to be born on the 21st … and I was right!”

A very special birth day

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Ysee woke at 2.30am on February 21, 2021, with what she suspected were regular contractions. But because she’d been having Braxton Hicks for the past fortnight, she decided to try sleeping a little longer. She had prepared for a home water birth, so everything was in place, just in case.

“But at 3am on the dot I heard like a little pop in my tummy. I thought it was a bit strange and I went to the toilet to do a wee, which never stopped. I still wasn’t sure my water broke as I was induced with my first and never experienced spontaneous labour. I sent a message to my photographer and midwife to let them know I thought my water broke but I will try to go back to bed to sleep a little.

“Well, I put a pad on which filled within minutes and 15 minutes later I was on the phone to my midwife and photographer to let them know I think they needed to come now as they lived 45 minutes away and my contractions were definitely coming nice and strong every three to four minutes. I woke my husband up around 4am telling him my water broke and we needed to set the pool up now.

“He was amazing trying to get everything ready while making sure I didn’t need anything from him. At this stage I was still able to help him set things up between my waves and the excitement of knowing we will be meeting our new baby boy soon ramped up, it was happening !! And on top of that, it was my Mamau’s birthday.

“My photographer Kate Kennedy arrived first followed shortly after by my two beautiful midwives Heidi and Tracy from Central Coast Homebirth. I was still chatting and laughing with them in between my contractions but they were definitely coming stronger and stronger – it was about 5am.”

A unique two-knot cord

True umbilical cord knots

Ysee’s son Max woke up and he stayed with his mum for a while before falling back asleep at 6am. By that time Ysee’s sister-in-law had arrived, as a support for the couple.

“I bounced on the ball for a little bit but I got frustrated as I felt it was slowing down my labour. So I decided it was the right time to jump in the pool. And wow – what a relief this was. Contractions kept coming stronger and closer from each other, I used a comb to trigger my acupressure point on my hand during my all labour and my sister-in-law Ana and my husband were taking turn to massage my lower back.

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“My beautiful midwives were close to me, watching me progress in my labour but I didn’t have any examination once, only intermittent Doppler monitoring to make sure bub was not stressed which was absolutely amazing. The fact they left me labour in my own terms but were still there if I needed them was the most empowering feeling ever.

“At 7.25am I said I could feel him coming and then everything went so fast. While everyone was busy around the pool my dog pushed open the screen door and let himself in being extra protective laying down near the pool. My husband jumped in the water with me and after only six minutes of pushing Téo arrived in his daddy’s waiting hands at 7.31am, weighing 4.2kg and measuring 55 cm with a 34cm head circumference. Max woke up 10 minutes later and was able to meet his little brother straight away which was amazing.

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“Téo had two true knots in his really lengthy cord which is quite exceptional. One true knot is already rare, but two was mind-blowing! I have been a placenta encapsulator for three years now and I have never seen two knots before, neither did my midwives or photographer!

“I birthed my placenta outside the pool on a mattress in the lounge room while it was still attached to him. Then my beautiful midwives did all the necessary checks and everyone left by 11am while we enjoyed our newborn bubble as a new family of four.” Incredibly, Ysee’s first baby, Max was also born with a true knot in his umbilical cord.

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Squiggly line

Are umbilical cord knots dangerous?

While true knots can be dangerous, as long as the knot stays loose it won’t cause any harm.  About one in one hundred babies are born with a true knot in their cord. The knot usually happens when babies do a little gymnastics in the womb. They can also form during delivery. If bub is small and has a long cord, they’re more likely to develop a true knot.

The umbilical cord is protected by Wharton’s jelly and it’s designed to help protect the cord’s blood vessels. If the knot does tighten it could mean bub isn’t getting enough oxygen. The most common sign of this in late pregnancy is a slowing of baby movements after 37 weeks.

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(Images: Sweet Love Photography and Kate Kennedy Birth Photography)

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