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Why is umbilical cord compression a concern for the fetus?

Umbilical cord compression is a problem that can occur during labor and delivery involving the cord being under pressure, which causes the baby to receive a reduced amount of blood and nutrients.  If the umbilical cord gets stretched and compressed during labor, it can lead to a decrease of blood to the baby, which results in a drop of the fetal heart rate.  Most babies move their position and are born healthy; however, some babies do not regain their heart rate and the physician may order an emergency cesarean section.

Cord wrapping around baby’s neck

If the cord becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck, or if it is positioned between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvic bone, this can also cause problems that will lead to a faster delivery using forceps, vacuum assistance, or cesarean section.

The drop of the fetal heart rate is always a concern for doctors, parents, and babies as lack of oxygen and blood can result in brain injuries such as cerebral palsy.

Cord compression

Umbilical cord compression is diagnosed through a fetal Doppler and ultrasound.  Doctors should immediately recognize the situation and take appropriate action.

Cord prolapse

Another type of umbilical cord complication is called umbilical cord prolapse, which is when the cord descends into the birth canal before the baby, putting both mother and child in danger of cord compression.

Reducing oxygen intake for fetus

The treatment for minor cord compression or prolapse is to provide extra oxygen to the mother in order to increase blood flow through the cord.  If it is a severe case of compression or prolapse, there should be constant monitoring of the baby, and if any fetal distress is identified, emergency action should be taken.

Compression of the umbilical cord is a serious problem that can require immediate medical attention in order to avoid birth injuries including brain damage and cerebral palsy.

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