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Umbilical cord prolapse in late pregnancy

Published: 31/08/2009

The umbilical cord connects the baby from its umbilicus (tummy button) to the placenta (afterbirth) inside the uterus (womb). The cord contains blood vessels, which carry blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, to the baby and waste products away. After the baby is born, the cord is clamped and cut before delivery of the placenta.

A prolapse is when an organ or a part of your body slips or falls out of place. In this instance it is when the cord comes through the open cervix (entrance of the womb) in front of the baby before the birth.

This information leaflet covers:

  • Why umbilical cord prolapse is an emergency
  • Whether cord prolapse can be predicted or prevented
  • Risk factors
  • Signs of a cord prolapse
  • What you should do if you think you have had a cord prolapse
  • Treatment options
  • What a cord prolapse could mean for your baby

This information is based on the RCOG guideline Umbilical Cord Prolapse.

In line with the College process of reviewing all guidance every three years, this information is currently under review. The information in this version is still valid.

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