What you need to know about umbilical cord prolapse

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2024 | Birth Injuries

Umbilical cord prolapse is a rare but serious childbirth emergency where the umbilical cord comes out before the baby. This condition can compromise fetal oxygen supply, necessitating prompt medical intervention. In New Mexico, it is important for pregnant women and healthcare providers to seek information if an emergency is to take place.

Risk factors

Several factors increase the risk of birth injuries like umbilical cord prolapse. These include:

  • Premature rupture of membranes (PROM): Early water breaking can cause the umbilical cord to slip out. Especially if the baby is not yet positioned deep in the pelvis.
  • Multiple pregnancies: Having twins or more can also increase the risk. The more amniotic fluid, the higher chance of abnormal positions.
  • Polyhydramnios: Excessive amniotic fluid can cause cord displacement during labor.

Another risk factor is abnormal fetal presentation. This is when breech or transverse positions make it more likely for the cord to prolapse.

Emergency responses

Quick and effective responses to umbilical cord prolapse are vital. The obstetric team must receive immediate notification for urgent medical attention. To relieve pressure on the cord, the healthcare provider may manually lift the baby’s presenting part to restore blood flow. Placing the mother in a knee-chest or Trendelenburg position also helps reduce pressure. Often, a fast delivery, usually through a cesarean section, prevents hypoxia and potential brain damage to the baby.

Legal implications

Healthcare providers must follow established protocols to avoid malpractice claims. Mismanaging umbilical cord prolapse can lead to lawsuits. Especially if the baby suffers long-term injuries and parents suspect negligence. Providers need to stay well-trained and follow best practices to reduce risks. Medical liability is a serious concern.


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