|Prolapsed Umbilical Cord|
A prolapsed cord occurs when the baby's falls into the birth canal ahead of the baby's head or other
parts of the baby's body. Another term for this condition is cord
A prolapsed cord is a serious emergency and can be very harmful to the
baby. When the cord is compressed or squeezed (for example, between the
baby and the wall of the
or ), the baby's
supply of blood and oxygen is cut off. The lack of oxygen ( birth asphyxia )
can lead to severe damage or death if the problem is not taken care of
A cord prolapse is not a common occurrence, occurring most commonly in
the following situations:
- Polyhydramnios is present.
- During delivery of the second baby of .
- Baby is in a .
- Baby is in the .
- When the bag of spontaneously or when the doctor ruptures the membranes
during a vaginal exam before the foetus descends into the pelvis.
Symptoms and Signs
The mother cannot feel if the baby's cord is prolapsed. The problem becomes
apparent when the , which is usually attached to the mother's abdomen,
shows that the baby's heart rate has decreased. Then the doctor or nurse
feel in the vagina for the cord.
Various situations involving prolapsed cord are treated as follows:
- If the cord is still pulsating (beating) and can be seen or felt in
the vagina, the doctor or nurse will hold up the part of the baby that
is coming out first. This takes pressure off the cord. Sometimes the
mother will be asked to get up on her knees and bend over. To further
help take the pressure off the cord, the nurse or doctor will keep a
hand in the mother's vagina until the baby is delivered the fastest
way possible, usually by emergency . The mother will be given oxygen to breathe.
- If the cord is felt through an amniotic sac that has not broken,
the doctor will try not to break the bag of waters. The mother will
be asked to get into a position that takes pressure off the cord, either
on her hands and knees or with her hips elevated. If the prolapsed cord
causes the baby's heartbeat to slow, a caesarean section will probably
- If the baby is positioned head down and low in the birth canal and
the mother's cervix is fully dilated, the doctor may try to get the
baby out quickly with forceps or vacuum extractor. If the mother isn't
fully dilated and ready to deliver, a caesarean section will be performed
as quickly as possible.
- If the baby is breech, the mother is fully dilated, the baby's bottom
is about to be delivered, and the mother has delivered a baby before,
vaginal delivery may be possible. Otherwise, a caesarean section is
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
1. Floss Obstetrics & Gynaecology Medical
(def;articles & more)