|My friend had a prolapsed cord and had to have an emergency
caesarian. Can you explain what happened?
Your friend was unlucky as this is a fairly rare occurrence.
This usually occurs when the waters of the pregnant woman
break and the cord is washed into the birth canal. The pressure
of the baby on the cord reduces the flow of blood to the
baby and unless the baby is delivered quickly, the baby
could die. Occasionally the umbilical cord can be felt or
seen at the vagina, or it may be detected during internal
When the baby is head down there is usually not room for
the umbilical cord to be swept down the birth canal, but
it can still become jammed between the baby and the wall
of the birth canal. However if the baby is not quite as
snug in the birth canal such as during a breech delivery
it is possible for the cord to slip through.
In order to save the baby the delivery must occur as a
matter of urgency. If the labour is not well established
the doctor may decide to deliver the baby by emergency caesarian.
However if the labour has already progressed to second stage
then it is too late for a caesarian, and forceps will be
used to speed up the delivery. Depending on the position
of the cord with relation to the baby, the mother will be
positioned so as to attempt to relieve the pressure on the
cord during the delivery. The doctor or midwife may also
try to lift the baby off the cord as the baby is delivered.
Kneeling down with the head on the bed and buttocks in the
air is the position usually recommended if a prolapsed cord