While an unborn baby grows in utero, he or she develops a way to accommodate the umbilical cord. This serves as their lifeline, connecting them to oxygen and nutrients supplied by their mom’s body. But this vital connection can also pose threats during labour and delivery.
Here are some cord dangers medical practitioners normally watch out for as they prepare to deliver a baby.
Umbilical Cord Prolapse
This happens when part of the umbilical cord protrudes outside the open cervix during labour. Its premature exit increases the risk of getting the cord wrapped around the baby and constricting oxygen supply.
A mother from Iloilo named Barbara* confides in theAsianparent Philippines that she experienced this at a lying-in clinic where she had gone into labour. Due to complications, she was rushed to the nearest tertiary hospital. When they got there, however, her perfectly healthy baby had developed cerebral palsy. This is a long-term cognitive disorder that was caused by the lack of oxygen supply to her baby’s brain.
Cord prolapse, when it is not immediately addressed, can even lead to infant death.
Here are the most common causes of umbilical cord prolapse, according to BirthInjuryGuide.org:
- Breech delivery
- Premature delivery
- An excessive amount of amniotic fluid
- Unusually long umbilical cord
Commonly known as cord coil, it occurs when the umbilical cord wraps itself around the baby’s neck once or multiple times. Twins, large infants, or breech deliveries are most at risk for cord coil. It can restrict blood flow, oxygen, heart rate, and fetal development if left untreated.
Since there is nothing moms-to-be can do to prevent this, renowned OB/Gynae Dr. Michele Hakakha believes you shouldn’t worry.
“Remember that a baby is getting his or her oxygen supply from you via the umbilical cord, not from air going in the trachea like we do,” the Los Angeles-based doctor says in response to a query on Parents.com. “And, the first thing your practitioner will do once your baby’s head comes out during delivery, slip a finger around the back of the neck to check whether or not there is a cord there. If there is, it’s usually loose enough to slip it easily over your baby’s head prior to delivering the rest of the body.”
If your baby is fond of kicking or flipping around in the womb, there is a greater chance of cord knots forming. Though they’re usually just loose knots, they can tighten during labour.
According to What To Expect, babies with long cords are most at risk and only 1 in 2000 unborn babies develop a really tight knot that can cause problems during delivery.
What should parents watch out for? A decreased amount of fetal activity after the 37th week of pregnancy. But don’t go overboard with worry. The umbilical cord possesses Wharton’s jelly, which is a substance that protects the vital blood vessels in the event of cord knotting.
My own mom experienced this when she was about to deliver my younger brother. His heart rate had slowed in utero as our mom was getting ready to deliver him normally. So her doctor, sensing a possible cord knot formation, decided to perform an emergency C-section to safely deliver him. He came out at a whopping 10 pounds with a full head of hair, thanks to her doctor’s quick thinking!
*Barbara, not her real name, has chosen to remain anonymous but hopes her story will teach moms-to-be to be vigilant in watching out for birth complications
This article is republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.