Umbilical Cord Prolapse

Definition

The umbilical cord connects the fetus to the placenta, an organ that provides nutrition. Umbilical cord prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord passes through the birth canal and into the vagina in front of the baby's head. It occurs after the membranes have ruptured.As the baby passes through the birth canal during labor, it puts pressure on the umbilical cord. This compression of the umbilical cord decreases or can completely cut off blood flow and oxygen to the baby. Umbilical cord prolapse is a dangerous condition that can cause stillbirth unless the baby is delivered quickly, usually by cesarean section (C-section). Most babies delivered quickly through cesarean section do not suffer from complications caused by this condition.
Umbilical Cord Prolapse
Prolapsed Umbilical cord
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Umbilical cord prolapse is cause by the umbilical cord coming out of the uterus before the baby's head.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of umbilical cord prolapse:
  • Having a baby that is in the breech position
  • Premature rupturing of the membranes
  • Having multiple births in one pregnancy
  • Having an unusually long umbilical cord
  • Having too much amniotic fluid around the fetus—polyhydramnios
  • Artificial rupture of membranes

Symptoms

Seeing or feeling the umbilical cord in the vagina before the baby's delivery is a symptom of umbilical cord prolapse.

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