Umbilical Cord Compression

When the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby’s body, commonly the neck, and affects the baby during delivery, it is called an umbilical cord compression. Umbilical cord compression occurs when the umbilical cord is compressed or squeezed by some mechanism and may result in decreased oxygen flow to the baby. Compression can also occur if the cord is between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvic bone before or during delivery. When the cord is compressed in this way, it leads to a decrease in the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby.

A cord compression usually shows up as a slowing down of the baby’s heart rate. The slowing down often comes in waves or episodes referred to as decelerations. If the baby’s heart rate drops too low and does not quickly return to normal immediate action needs to be takes to protect the baby from suffering brain damage or death due to the lack of oxygen.

Umbilical Cord Compression Symptoms

Birth asphyxia is the lack of oxygen (hypoxia) or increase in carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) within the body due to . It results in a buildup of toxins within the cells of the body, eventually damaging the cells. A subsequent injury can be caused during treatment as the toxins are released into the tiny infant’s body.

The immediate symptoms of birth asphyxia include pale skin tone (or bluish in color), weak breathing (or not breathing at all), weak cry, low heart rate, poor muscle tone, weak reflexes, acidosis (high levels of acid in the blood), meconium in the birth fluid, and seizures. Many of these are measured in the Apgar scores that are taken right after birth. Low Apgar scores (in the 0-3 range) for more than five minutes may indicate birth asphyxia. A long period of low oxygen before or during birth can cause major organs to shut down or other extended future consequences, such as an increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and ADHD.

Photo Credit: By Schokohäubchen (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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