Umbilical Cord Prolapse
This problem will most often happen after a person's water has broken. The prolapse is caused by the position of the cord.
Things may raise the risk are:
- A narrow pelvis
- Artificial rupture of membranes to help labor move along
- A placenta that is attached low in the uterus
- Having delivered five or more babies in the past
- Having a baby that is in the breech position
- Being pregnant with more than one baby
- Going into labor before 37 weeks
- A fetus with low birth weight
- Having too much amniotic fluid
- Birth defects
An umbilical prolapse will cause a change in the fetus' heart rate. The cord may also be seen after water has broken.
Umbilical cord prolapse is an emergency. It is treated by:
- Taking pressure off the cord—The doctor may be able to move the fetus away from the cord. The person may also be asked to change body positions to ease pressure from the cord and protect the fetus.
- Rapid vaginal delivery—If the person is fully dilated, tools may be used to help the delivery.
- Emergency C-section—If the baby cannot be quickly or safely delivered vaginally.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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