Umbilical Cord Compression Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

  • Umbilical cord compression occurs when the cord unintentionally gets wrapped around the baby’s neck or when it is placed between the mother’s pelvic bone and the baby’s head. When this happens, vital blood supple and oxygen to the baby decreases or can be cut out.
  • During labor, the umbilical cord can be stretched and compressed which usually results in a drop in the blood flow within it.
    This usually happens after the amniotic sac breaks which allows the cord to come out of the uterus before the baby or when it drops and be compressed by the head, shoulder, or any of the baby’s body parts.
  • As mentioned, it can cause variable decelerations or a sudden drop in the baby’s heart rate which can be life-threatening or can cause severe brain damage to the baby leading to cerebral palsy.
  • The sudden drop of baby’s heart rate is usually picked up by instruments monitoring labor.
  • Studies have shown that one out of ten deliveries experience cord compression.
  • Generally, babies pass through this stage without any problems and often times, birth would continue normally.
  • There are cases wherein a caesarean section is needed. This is when the baby’s heart rate worsens or when the baby shows any signs of distress like passing out of meconium or the baby’s first stool and a decrease in blood pH of the fetus.
  • Failure of medical practitioners to detect signs of the condition and do necessary treatment procedures can lead to a medical malpractice claim.

Symptoms Of Umbilical Cord Compression

  • A change in the baby’s heart rate which can be observed in the fetal monitor strips or in the baby monitor. The change usually involves deceleration of heart rate which can be sudden.
  • A heartbeat of less than 100 times per minute for several minutes.
  • Mother of the baby can feel that the baby inside the womb is not moving the same way as before.
  • During the breaking of the amniotic sac, patient can feel the umbilical cord descending.

Treatment For Umbilical Cord Compression

  • Administration of extra IV fluid and oxygen. Oxygen here is given to increase the amount available for the baby that had been cut out.
  • Turning the mother on one side to release compression.
  • Administration of medications through injections to stop contractions. This can provide time for the baby to recover.
  • For umbilical cords that have been wrapped around the neck during labor, the doctor can slip a finger in between the neck and the cord during childbirth to prevent strangulation of the baby. Once the head is out of the birth canal, the doctor untangles the cord by slipping it over the baby’s head.
  • Delivery maybe induced with the use of vacuum assistance or forceps.
  • Caesarian Section.

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