What is Wharton's Jelly?

What is Wharton's Jelly?

Nov 18, 2017

While Wharton’s Jelly sounds like some abstract cooking ingredient, it's actually a gelatinous substance that protects the umbilical cord. Named after Thomas Wharton, whom discovered it in 1656, this jelly-like substance’s function is to provide support for the vein and arteries and also prevents kinking of the umbilical cord during movement of the fetus in the womb.

Wharton’s Jelly reacts to changes in temperature, and at birth it ensures that the blood vessels constrict as the baby’s cord collapses. During delayed cord clamping, healthcare providers are waiting for the cord to stop pulsing, a direct physiological response of Wharton’s Jelly. Eventually, as Wharton’s Jelly hardens, the umbilical cord dries and detaches a few days to a few weeks later.

Wharton’s Jelly is formed from the mesoderm and is rich in stem cells. There are several clinical studies showing that these stem cells can be extracted and cultured to make more stem cells which may be useful in the treatment of many diseases and illnesses. How cool!

We encourage you to learn more about our "What in the World" series. Please see our A to Z index for a whole host of pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting information and terminology.

Loree Siermachesky works as a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years. She is well-known and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She cares deeply for this profession and even more for her clientele, honoring them in whatever method of birth they choose, or helping them transition to new parenthood as they wish.