Umbilical Cord Prolapse
The umbilical cord is your baby's lifeline. Oxygen and other nutrients are
passed from your system to your baby, through the placenta and the umbilical
cord. Sometimes before or during labor, the umbilical cord can slip through the
cervix, preceding the baby into the birth canal. It may even protrude from the
vagina. This is dangerous because the umbilical cord can get blocked and stop
blood flow through the cord. You will probably feel the cord in the birth canal
and may see it if it protrudes from your vagina. This is an emergency
situation. Call an ambulance to get you to the hospital.
Umbilical Cord Compression
Because the fetus moves a lot inside the uterus, the umbilical cord can get
wrapped and unwrapped around the baby many times throughout the pregnancy.
While there are "cord accidents" in which the cord gets twisted around
and harms the baby, this is extremely rare and usually can't be prevented.
Sometimes the umbilical cord gets stretched and compressed during labor,
leading to a brief decrease in the flow of blood within it. This can cause
sudden, short drops in the fetal heart rate, called variable decelerations,
which are usually picked up by monitors during labor. Cord compression happens
in about one in 10 deliveries. In most cases, these changes are of no major
concern and most babies quickly pass through this stage and the birth proceeds
normally. But a cesarean section may be necessary if the heart rate worsens or
the fetus shows other signs of distress, such as decrease of fetal blood pH or
passing of the baby's first stool (meconium).
Causes and Treatments Failure to Progress (Prolonged Labor)
Failure to progress refers to labor that does not move as fast as it should.
This could happen with a big baby, a baby that does not present normally or
with a uterus that does not contract appropriately. But more often than not, no
specific cause for "failure to progress" is found. If labor goes on too
long, your doctor may give you intravenous fluids to help prevent you from
getting dehydrated. If the uterus does not contract enough, he or she may give
you oxytocin, a medicine that promotes stronger contractions. And if the cervix
stops dilating despite strong contractions of the uterus, a cesarean section
may be indicated.
Sometimes a placenta previa may cause an abnormal presentation. But many
times the cause is not known. Towards the end of your third trimester, your
doctor will check the presentation and position of your fetus by feeling your
abdomen. If the fetus remains in breech presentation several weeks before the
due date, your doctor may attempt to turn the baby into the correct