Umbilical Cord Prolapse and Other Common Problems

Umbilical Cord Prolapse and Other Common Problems

by / Friday, 27 July 2018 / Published in Birth Trauma
Mother holding baby in towel after birth

The umbilical cord is responsible for making sure an unborn child receives the oxygen and nutrients it needs to grow and develop. But if there are complications with the umbilical cord during labor and delivery, the child can potentially lose oxygen.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse

In some cases, the umbilical cord enters the birth canal before the baby’s head. As labor progresses, the umbilical cord can get compressed by the child’s body and cut off their oxygen supply. This is called umbilical cord prolapse and it occurs in about 1 in 300 births, which means it happens in less than 1% of births. Umbilical cord prolapse often doesn’t cause serious problems, but if it isn’t detected or reacted to quickly enough, it can become dangerous.

There is no one main cause of umbilical cord prolapse, but there are several factors that can increase the odds. Babies in the breech position and pregnancies involving multiple babies are both more likely to experience umbilical cord prolapse. It’s also more likely to occur if the umbilical cord is too long or if the baby is too large or too small.

Umbilical Cord Knots

Feeling your baby moving around during pregnancy can be very reassuring and exciting. But sometimes, the baby’s movements can cause the umbilical cord to get tangled and form knots. In many cases, the knots are loose enough to not constrict oxygen, but they can become tighter during labor and delivery and result in the child receiving a lack of oxygen. If a doctor detects knots in the umbilical cord before delivery, they might recommend a C-section to prevent complications.

Umbilical cord knots occur in about 1% of pregnancies and since they’re caused by the baby’s movements, they’re not possible to prevent. However, they are more likely to occur in pregnancies involving identical twins because of the extra movement in the womb. An exceptionally long umbilical cord can also raise the risk of knots forming.

Nuchal Cord

Nuchal cord is another condition which is most commonly caused by fetal movements. When nuchal cord occurs, it means the umbilical cord has become wrapped around the child’s neck. Usually, the cord only wraps around the neck once, but it can wrap around multiple times or form a knot. Nuchal cord is fairly common, occurring in upwards of 30% of births. The cord becoming wrapped around a baby’s neck won’t strangle it in a conventional sense, but it it’s wrapped too tightly or forms a knot, it can cut off the baby’s oxygen supply. Doctors are generally able to detect nuchal cord before labor begins and are often able to maneuver the cord off the neck.

If any of these conditions are detected, it’s essential that doctors take steps to make sure the child’s oxygen supply isn’t being cut off. When these sorts of conditions aren’t treated appropriately and a loss of oxygen continues, the child may experience injuries like hearing loss, vision loss, brain injuries, or HIE. They may also experience developmental delays later in life. If there were complications with the umbilical cord during delivery and your child was injured as a result, contact a birth trauma lawyer right away. Injuries caused by a lack of oxygen can have long-term consequences, so it’s important to make sure they will have the care they need. Even if your child is a few years old, you may still be able to take legal action.

At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have experienced attorneys who handle birth trauma cases as well as other childhood injuries.  Contact us today so that we can learn more about your case.