Umbilical Cord Prolapse Due to Premature Birth

It is rare for  pregnant women to experience vaginal cord prolapse.  Of  the 1 in 300 cases that this happens, most vaginal cord prolapses are for reasons unrelated to car accidents. Umbilical cord prolapse is typically related to fetal abnormalities, having a baby in breech position, having an unusually long umbilical cord or due to carrying multiple fetuses.  In a few rare cases, after a traumatic auto impact a woman can experience umbilical prolapse, especially if the impact sets of a premature labor. If a mother already had one of these abnormal circumstances, a severe impact while pregnant, may trigger a premature birth or ruptured membrane which then can lead to umbilical cord prolapse.

If an expectant mother’ amniotic sac breaks after a car accident and  the mother-to-be feels that the umbilical cord has slipped out into the vagina she will want to take pressure off the cord.  Stop standing. By getting onto your hands and knees, this will help remove some pressure. Additionally, this naturally pushes the uterus up and keeps the baby’s head from putting pressure on the cord.  If you can feel the cord has protruded, use a clean towel and support the cord until help arrives.  Providing support prevents gravity from allowing the cord to prolapse farther.

While in an ambulance being transported to the emergency room, the mother-to-be should expect that the EMT may take over holding the head of the baby and/or the cord while she remains on her knees.  Additionally, they may apply a moist dressing to use to hold the umbiblical cord to prevent it from drying out.

Some EMT’s do not feel comfortable transporting a mother while on her knees as it may present a safety issue.  In a few cases, women have reported that some EMT operators opted to have a catheter inserted vaginally as well as a retention balloon filled with water.  This elevates the baby up and relieves pressure to the umbilical cord. Once this is done, they transport the mother-to-be on her back. (However this is infrequently done by EMT’s.  It may be done by someone at the Emergency Room after you arrive.)

Do not be surprised if the EMT contacts the nearest hospital for direction while they are aiding you.  Do not be surprised if the local hospital provides the EMT operators step by step directions while carrying for you.

When the expectant mom arrives at the hospital, the doctors will be concerned in delivering the baby as soon as possible to avoid fetal hypoxia.  Almost immediately, the mother-to-be can expect a  pelvic examination to see and feel if the umbilical cord present is in front of the baby’s head.  If the mother arrived to the ER while on her back, she may be asked to move into a position, such as on her knees, to remove some pressure from the cord.

Often, the mother will be advised to proceed forward with a delivery by C-Section to again prevent complications and death of the child.

Expectant mothers reading this should remember this is not an everyday occurrence.  One medical articles reports this occurrence between 1.4 and 6.2 of 1000 pregnancies.  In the last century, the outcome of umbilical cord prolapse has improved significantly.

I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove personal injury attorney.  My office has experience in handling claims that may include a claim for any fetus injured or killed due to a car accident as well as in helping mother obtain compensation for any birth injuries, defects or labor complications that occurred due to a car accident.  I have practiced law in Sacramento and Elk Grove since 1982, am rated 10.0 by Avvo, the personal injury attorney rating site and also have the highest Yelp rating.  Call me at 916-694-0002 or 800-404-5400 for free, friendly advice.




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