Many parents want to know if injury or death from umbilical cord compression can be prevented. The answer is YES. Because of the risk of these serious injuries or death, medical professionals should closely monitor a baby throughout the pregnancy, labor, and delivery. When the umbilical cord is compressed and the flow of oxygen to the baby is reduced or stopped, the baby’s heart rate responds to the lack of oxygen, and there will likely be signs that the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen on the fetal heart monitor tracing. The baby’s heart “decelerates” or slows down. This is a sign to the medical providers that the baby is potentially in danger. Doctors and nurses must monitor the baby’s heart rate and be prepared to act quickly if this happens. Umbilical cord compression may also be detected by an ultrasound or fetal Doppler test.
If a doctor or nurse detects signs that compression is occurring, these medical professionals have a duty to take immediate action. When cord compression occurs during birth, the medical professionals must determine whether to perform an emergency cesarean section (C-section) to protect the baby. Failure to perform a C-section (cesarean section) in a timely manner may constitute medical negligence.