What is the umbilical cord?
The umbilical cord is a flexible, tube-like structure that, during pregnancy, connects the fetus to the mother. The umbilical cord is the baby's lifeline to the mother. It transports nutrients to the baby and also carries away the baby's waste products. It is made up of three blood vessels – two arteries and one vein.
What is umbilical cord prolapse?
Umbilical cord prolapse is a complication that occurs prior to or during delivery of the baby. In a prolapse, the umbilical cord drops (prolapses) through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby. The cord can then become trapped against the baby's body during delivery. Umbilical cord prolapse occurs in approximately one in every 300 births.
What are the consequences of umbilical cord prolapse?
An umbilical cord prolapse presents a great danger to the fetus. During the delivery, the fetus can put stress on the cord. This can result in a loss of oxygen to the fetus, and may even result in a stillbirth.
What causes an umbilical cord prolapse?
The most common cause of an umbilical cord prolapse is a premature rupture of the membranes that contain the amniotic fluid. Other causes include:
- Premature delivery of the baby
- Delivering more than one baby per pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Excessive amniotic fluid
- Breech delivery (the baby comes through the birth canal feet first)
- An umbilical cord that is longer than usual