If the umbilical is cord delivered first, can this lead to an injury for your baby? To put it another way, has your baby suffered a brain injury and you remember that the umbilical cord was delivered first? For a lot of parents, the idea of the umbilical cord delivered first is not realized until the moment of delivery.


In this Maryland birth injury educational article, I am going to explain from a medical legal standpoint the importance of doctors and nurses paying close attention when umbilical cord prolapse is present. Even though this condition can be rare, if not properly diagnosed and treated, it can lead to serious injury for your baby, or even death.




When the umbilical cord is delivered before the baby this is called umbilical cord prolapse. The condition can be rare, but that does not mean that when it occurs it is a “minor” event. Doctors can perform vaginal examinations to determine whether the umbilical cord is being delivered before the baby. Some risk factors for umbilical cord prolapse include the following:


  • Breech Position: Breech position is a type of delivery in which the baby is delivered buttocks/foot first. Umbilical cord prolapse increases with the footling breech because the cord can slip past the foot and deliver before the baby.
  • Artificial Rupture Of Membranes
  • Polyhydramnios: When too much amniotic fluid surrounds the baby
  • Premature Baby


As mentioned above, umbilical cord prolapse can be rare, however, due to the risk of cord compression, prolapse can present an emergency in the delivery room. In many instances, the treatment for umbilical cord prolapse will be to move to an emergency C-section.




The umbilical cord is an important part to a developing baby. This is because the cord provides blood and oxygen to the baby as it grows. Since a baby is supposed to be delivered head first, if the umbilical cord is delivered first it can lead to cord compression.


A compressed umbilical cord can lead to a reduced level of blood and oxygen for the baby. When this reduction occurs, there is a chance for a brain injury to occur. Parents may hear their doctor talk about hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) as the basis for the brain injury. HIE is essentially a reduced level of blood and oxygen, which leads to a brain injury.




Doctors and nurses can sometimes be alerted to umbilical cord compression with the help of the electronic fetal heart monitor. There may be a sharp decline in the baby’s heart rate, and the rate may not go back to a “normal” baseline for a considerable amount of time. If cord compression is present due to umbilical cord prolapse, then doctors must timely diagnose and treat the condition. Failure to do so can lead to a brain injury, or in some cases, even death.


To speak with me further regarding your baby’s injury at birth pick up the phone and give me a call. I can be reached at 301-850-4832. I answer Maryland birth injury and medical malpractice questions just like yours all the time and I will be happy to listen to your story.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815



1-833-4 BABY HELP


Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties. blgesq.com