Umbilical Cord Compression – Were The Signs Missed?

Bringing life into this world is both beautiful and nerve-wracking. With a gestation period of 40 weeks, there’s a real possibility that things won’t always go 100% smoothly. Issues can pop up like umbilical cord compression, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and more. But with modern technology and medical advancements, doctors can tackle most issues as they come. Trained and specialized medical professionals have the ability to detect possible issues early on. We’ve come a long way, and the majority of babies are delivered healthy..but even still, medical complications DO occur.

Umbilical cord compression is a medical reality some mothers face. And while your doctor does not cause it, they can certainly help or harm the condition. If a doctor of midwife ignores the symptoms of umbilical cord compression, you may have a case of medical malpractice on your hands. Do you think your doctor failed to recognize problems during your pregnancy? Did it cause injury to you or your baby? Talk to a Hampton & King professional today to have your questions answered. Contact us for a free, zero-hassle consultation.

Doctor cares for baby's umbilical cord after childbirth.

What Is Umbilical Cord Compression?

The umbilical cord is one of the most essential parts when it comes to your pregnancy and your baby. Many refer to it as the “supply line.” This small tube connects a growing baby to a mother’s placenta. The umbilical cord carries blood back and forth from the placenta to the baby. It is how babies receive nutrients and oxygen essential for their survival.

While most pregnancies are void of umbilical cord complications, problems do occur. The flow of blood can get obstructed due to a compressed umbilical cord. This is known as umbilical cord compression. If medical professionals don’t recognize the issue and relieve pressure right away, blood flow and oxygen supply can be cut off. This failure to get the blood flowing properly can cause the baby to suffer severe umbilical cord compression injuries which can lead to cerebral palsy or permanent brain damage.

Causes Of Compression

There are certain factors that could increase the risk of umbilical cord compression. These include:

  • Umbilical Cord Prolapse. This complication occurs when instead of the head entering the birth canal first, the umbilical cord does. This may cause the cord to become compressed between the baby and mother’s cervix. The chances of an umbilical cord prolapse increase if the mother’s water breaks well before labor.
  • True Knot. Sometimes, the cord can become tied in a knot. If the knot tightens enough, it can cause serious compression. The risk factors for a true knot are high maternal age, a long umbilical cord, and high fetal movement in early pregnancy when lots of amniotic fluid is present.
  • Nuchal Cord. These umbilical cord wraps happen when the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby’s neck. In approximately 20 – 30% of all childbirths, the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck at least once. Oftentimes, nuchal cords can resolve themselves. Other times it may require immediate action by your medical team. A nuchal cord can cause compression and can also pose a strangling threat to the baby
  • Abnormal Levels of Amniotic Fluid. Too little or too much amniotic fluid around the baby can cause umbilical cord compression.

Signs Of Umbilical Cord Compression Doctors Shouldn’t Miss

Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent umbilical cord compression. But a good medical team can in some situations detect it early enough to do something about it. Detecting umbilical cord compression signs means your baby can survive without any lasting injuries. 

The signs of umbilical cord compression include:

  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Abnormal ultrasounds
  • The baby’s heart rate is irregular

A skilled doctor would likely recommend frequent monitoring to ensure the pregnancy progresses as much as it can before intervention would be needed. Incorporating fetal Doppler tests and performing non-stress tests can give your doctor a better idea of what is going on. And if cord compression is found to be severe, doctors have a few ways to manage it. This includes:

  • Amnioinfusion. A saline solution is introduced into a mother’s uterus. This can help relieve some of the pressure and possibly help avoid umbilical cord compression. 
  • C-Section Delivery. If changes in heart rate and other fetal distress occur, doctors may determine the baby has more chance of survival outside of the womb than inside. Therefore, a c-section may be necessary. 
  • Increasing oxygen. If the compression isn’t severe, administering more oxygen to the mother can help increase blood flow within the cord.

A Doctor’s Neglect Can Lead To Serious Consequences

When a doctor fails to recognize the signs of umbilical cord compression, there may be a lack of necessary monitoring and treatment. When the cord is compressed and the flow of nutrients/oxygen is restricted, it can cause long-lasting injuries including:

  • Respiratory acidosis which can lead to respiratory failure
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy 
  • Seizures
  • Breathing issues
  • Irregular muscle tone
  • Hemorrhage
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Developmental disabilities
Mother comforts baby with umbilical cord compression side effects.

Breached Standard Of Care? You Could File A Lawsuit

Your provider has a duty to you, and all of their patients. If they fail to provide you with the standard of care, and it leads to umbilical cord compression complications, you may have a medical malpractice case.

Our team members can help you determine if your case warrants a lawsuit and if you may be due compensation for a doctor’s neglect. Contact Hampton & King today.