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"he had the cord wrapped around his neck and WOULD HAVE DIED!!"

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
So it seems like whenever I mention homebirth, I get one of these cord horror stories in response. Instinctually, I don't believe it, but I'm not a birth professional and don't really know enough to understand what's really happening here.

The most recent was my godmother's story--she had the fetal monitor around her belly, every time she'd have a contraction his heartbeat would "stop", so the doc cut her a full episiotomy, reached in and pulled the baby out. This was all due to the cord being tightly wrapped around his neck and cutting off oxygen. Apparently had the doctor not intervened and cut and pulled the babe out, he would've been stillborn. This is what my godmother was told and what she believes 30y later.

The story before that was that the momma was laboring for about 60-70 minutes. The fetal monitor showed that the heart rate dropped during contractions. Mom received an emergency cesarean, and the babe was born "with the cord tightly around his neck". This was "a close call" and if they hadn't had a cesarean, I am told the babe would have died. FWIW this mom had a very "medical" OB attending her.

Can we talk about this?

It's my understanding that the cord is around the neck in 1/4 or 1/5 births. Can the cord around the neck really cut of oxygen and cause stillbirth? Would the babe be born, cord unwrapped, and isn't it still receiving oxygen from the placenta even if the cord is wrapped?

What about the heart tones slowing or "stopping"? Is this caused by the nuchal cord? Even if the heart rate slows during ctx, could that birth work out ok w/out interventions?

Without the fetal monitor, would these births have simply progressed naturally with the babies pinking up after birth? Or would they really have been stillborn because the cord was too tight? At that point, isn't birth pretty much imminent?

I hated the fetal monitor and only let them put it on my for a minute, and I don't want one in this next birth I'm preparing for either.

I'd like to understand what's really going on here and dispel the "horror cord" myth.
post #2 of 45

Partial cord myth

What most people think is that the cord will strangle the baby to death.

Not so much (though blood flow may be impeded).

The cord problem happens mostly when/if the cord becomes compressed--could be between the chin and collarbone or chin and chest--something along those lines.

Hearttones often slow during a contraction. This phenomenon does not necessarily correlate to nuchal cord at all. Dr's and providers do want to see that the heartones do 'recover' well. If hearttones do not recover to normal heartrate--then fetal distress is assumed

So-can nuchal cord cause fetal death--sure. Is it likely--no. Is the possibility of nuchal cord reason for continuous fetal monitoring by belt or scalp--no

Would all of these babies pinked up--who knows.

Hearttones are not indicative necessarily of nuchal cord. Nuchal cord is dx'd either by ultrasound or visual.

Am I having a homebirth--yes

Heartones will be checked periodically by handheld doppler.
post #3 of 45
* Sorry. My post was probably inappropriate for the UC forum. But in a nutshell, I think knowledge is key.
post #4 of 45
New to this board, but wanted to share.

My second birth (accidental UC) was born with the cord wrapped around her neck and knee. She came out screaming and is a happy healthy 4 year old now. I think cords being wrapped are common, but that's not always the whole story.

My first was midwife attended and his heartrate dropped during contractions, presumably because if the stress of being born. I don't think there was any cord wrapping at all.
post #5 of 45
I have heard this too. A friend of mine had a similar experience. Her waters broke a month before her DD's due date. She was induced. Her baby was born with the cord wrapped around her neck. She needed to be ressusitated (sp?) and spent a week in the NICU after that. ....All of this could sound like a horror story followed by 'thank God I was in hospital and they saved her because of this and this and this'....

There is always more to a birth story though than what you hear on the outside.
Babies do not breath like we do.
Babies continue to recieve oxygen via the cord as long as it is not cut and still pulsing (so placenta hasn't detached itself yet). (so if a baby is born a bit blue, the worst thing you could do is cut the cord right away - as that would cut off any oxygen they may be getting) ...and sometimes it takes awhile for a baby to pink up (such as a baby born breech, etc).
The cord would have be heavily compressed for it to starve the baby of oxygen ...a cord wrapped around itself isn't really enough to do that. A cord being compressed by a stuck shoulder or head might be if stuck there long enough. But not just simply around the baby's neck.
Heart rate often does drop during a contraction...it fluxes throughout labour. How much so is what people usually monitor. If you are in hospital though, chances are you are in every unnatural position possible which isn't going to help. (such as being stuck on your back or having had drugs or not walking around, etc). Shifting yourself naturally can help ensure your heartrates are good and strong!
Statistically - a baby who has been 'induced' is also more likely to need a bit of ressusitation (that is spelt very badly isnt it? lol) as well. Most likely in my friends case, it was this and the quick cord cutting that cuased her DD to need a little help getting started breathing. (and it was only rules/regulations that caused her to stay in the nicu for that long rather than any further problems/complications) ...and she accepted induction because of being told she had to be as her waters broke and she didn't go into labour immediately.
C-sections cause enough problems themselves which answer to a lot of the problems present after a baby is born - rather than simply the cord around the neck.

I think this blog is fab - it has SO much practical info on it!
http://www.homebirth.net.au/2010/01/...-workshop.html

Here is her second on 'cord around the neck' lol
http://www.homebirth.net.au/search/l...d%20the%20neck
post #6 of 45
My second son was born with 2 loops of the cord around his neck. His heart rate never had any problems, and he came out too fast to unwrap it first. He actually started breathing faster than my previous son, and has never had any problems. I have known soeone who had a stillbirth due to an overly tight cord, and it was noticeable that there was a problem starting a few days before that. I think in most cases it is nothing to worry about.
post #7 of 45
basically, what justKate said (and good information, regardless of how you plan to birth is still good info! thanks for sharing it with us!).

i wasn't worried about it, and usually i'm not anyway.

and let me be honest about birth in general. stillbirth, while rare, can happen to anyone. it just happens sometimes for reasons unknown. it happens with all the technological help in the world and with the complete absence of technological help. it can happen, and as a UCer, i prepared emotionally for it to happen, whether i transfered or not, whatever.

BUT, it is rare. it is very rare for a baby to die in childbirth when you have good health, good hygiene and help available to you (eg, you can choose to transfer if you feel you need help). so, it is safe to UC if you feel that it is the best choice for you.
post #8 of 45
Also not a birth professional, but a mom who's done a ton of reading on the subject.

Quote:
she had the fetal monitor around her belly, every time she'd have a contraction his heartbeat would "stop",
My first thought when I read this is to wonder, did the baby's heart actually stop during contractions or did the monitor just lose the beat during contractions? The latter seems a lot more likely.

Quote:
This was all due to the cord being tightly wrapped around his neck and cutting off oxygen.
Cords are pretty tough. I know a lot of dads who have been surprised by how much strength it takes to cut, even with a sharp scissors. If the cord around his neck was actually cutting off oxygen to the point that his heart was stopping during contractions, either the cord must have been weak/damaged or it would have had to be extraordinarily tight.

I find myself extremely skeptical that your godmother got the whole/real story from her doctor.
post #9 of 45
Thread Starter 
Ann, that is a great site, thanks for pointing me to it!

I haven't witnessed a lot of births, but I remember with my niece (hospital, mw assisted, mom in lithotomy pos.), she was born pretty purple and with the cord wrapped a couple times. The mw never panicked or tripped out about it at all. I don't remember her apgar, but she was pretty limp and took a while to get a good cry going.

I am wondering why fetal distress is getting blamed on the cord? And how much fetal distress is okay? I guess I need to research fetal distress and the causes of that more as I'm not really believing that the cord is the main issue.

So if the cord is compressed or pinched under the chin, that can slow down blood flow from the placenta? Forgive my ignorance, I'm trying to puzzle this together, and none of it is really "common knowledge" that women are given during pregnancy.

I am wondering what else could have caused the heart rates to drop/slow during the labor beside the "cord myth", and if the interventions were really necessary or if even w/ distress the babe would be okay--I guess every birth is different.

So true what pp said about changing positions helpful in keeping distress from occurring. From what I'm reading, avoiding induction and being comfortable in the labor room is just as important.

I would like to know the stats relating to fetal distress and induction/hospital birth versus homebirth.
post #10 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by notjustmamie View Post
Also not a birth professional, but a mom who's done a ton of reading on the subject.



My first thought when I read this is to wonder, did the baby's heart actually stop during contractions or did the monitor just lose the beat during contractions? The latter seems a lot more likely.



Cords are pretty tough. I know a lot of dads who have been surprised by how much strength it takes to cut, even with a sharp scissors. If the cord around his neck was actually cutting off oxygen to the point that his heart was stopping during contractions, either the cord must have been weak/damaged or it would have had to be extraordinarily tight.

I find myself extremely skeptical that your godmother got the whole/real story from her doctor.
ITA, notjustmamie. I am skeptical of all these horror stories and "emergencies" and that's why I'm picking your brains and researching online. I don't believe the hype, but I do want to get down to the root here.

I'm not worried about the cord ala UC. Fetal distress is a bit worrisome to me, tho, just because I think I'm not yet well-informed enough to understand the causes and outcomes---like is a little distress okay? kwim? When is it emergent and how do you know? Seems like by the time you'd know there was distress, you'd be a couple of pushes away . . .
post #11 of 45
My first had his cord wrapped around his neck twice, tightly. He was an induction as well, I hadn't eaten for two days straight due to the looooong induction (I was overdue by 2 weeks but I had ZERO contractions before the induction and was very closed and thick), I had had a failed epidural and was both stuck on my back in bed and in horrible pain. At one point I had a 3 hour long contraction and of course, had the epidural been working I wouldn't have felt it...but I did and they could see it on the monitor. It was horrible. Then when it came time to push, the doc did that whole count to 10, take a breath, count to 10, take a breath thing. I could NOT do it. I tried and by the time we would start counting the second time, I would have to stop pushing and breathe like I'd ran a marathon. It was completely counter productive in my case.

After he'd been stuck in the birth canal for a very long time-his head was right there and visible, but I wasn't making any progress-his heart rate suddenly dipped...and then it stopped. It was a gradual stop, so I know even know that it wasn't a case of the monitor losing it. His heart started on its own again about 10 seconds later and went back to normal, but at this point they did an episiotomy and got him out of there. The OB said it was due to the umbilical cord.

Lets think about this though. He had been starved for 2 days with his mom, he was put under a TON of stress both during labor and pushing. Pushing was terribly unproductive due to the way I was laying and the way they were counting. I honestly don't think his cord had anything to do with it. It was a combination of factors and he just couldn't take the stress anymore.

I don't know if any of my others had the cord wrapped, I never asked. I know my surrogate baby had the cord kind of wrapped around her leg, but that didn't hurt her at all. (It did however, yank on my placenta and cause me to hemorrhage, but it was due to a VERY VERY short cord, something pretty rare-it was only about a foot long) However, my now 4 year old had a full knot in her cord which was rather interesting. She had no problems either and after looking at it (she was a homebirth, so I got to keep her cord and such), I can't imagine many baby's having issues with the cord getting THAT tight. The jelly like substance around the cord really prevents the atery/vein (I forget...theres 2 arteries usually right? lol) from getting compressed, even with effort. So I agree, unless the cord itself was damaged, missing most of that gelatinous substance, or was somehow so insanely wedged in between his head and shoulder that it managed to cut it off, I can't see it being a cord issue.

Oh and it also sounds, to me, like they were losing the signal, not that his heart was stopping. Its still possible of course, but every time I've heard a baby's heart stop, like my ds' did, it was a gradual slowing and then stopping...allbeit fast, but still gradual. Not a sudden stop and then start with a totally normal heart rate in between.
post #12 of 45
I saw this article today actually and immediately posted it on my facebook. My MIL loves to tell the story of my DHs birth and how if she hadn't had a c section he would have died and the cord was wrapped sooo tightly when he was born and he had lots of trouble breathing and blah blah blah. She'd never in a million years entertain the idea that her son had trouble breathing because she was scared into a c section.
post #13 of 45
well, i always bring this story up because i like to balance the positive anecdotes.

my mom lost a full term baby that died while in labor from the cord being wrapped around his neck.

i should have two brothers and i only have one.

eta: she did not have a c-section and this was in the 70's so i don't think she had monitoring. he did have a heart beat when she started birthing.
post #14 of 45
Not a UC'er but read here all the time. I was very lucky in that the doctor on call was quite sure I could have a baby the regular old way but I did have some heartrate issues.

I have always wondered-my water broke long before I went into labor and it was a huge gush and I had to stand in the tub for ten minutes or so. Eventually they gave me a dose of pit after 12 hours of no labor and which got the labor going.

However, my son's heartrate began dropping during the contractions and not doing a good job of coming back up once the contraction ended. The doctor believed it was because I had lost so much fluid that the cord was trapped between my body and his. I had an infusion of fluid and the heartrates immediately improved and my son was born.

The cord was looped around his neck but the doctor said that was not the issue-the issue was not enough cushion because of the loss of amniotic fluid. My son also suffered a stroke and we have no idea if the PROM was the cause.

Just my personal experience with a doc who was not interested at all in doing a c/s so feel he was truthful.
post #15 of 45
Our second son's cord was not around his neck, but his shoulder, tightly, twice. He was born in a hospital, with a midwife attending, completely unmedicated. I did have on a monitor. While I was pushing, he started to crash. She called for help, and then while the responders were running down the hall, she calmly talked me through pushing him out between contractions. She told me "the baby is in trouble - you have to get him out RIGHT NOW - PUSH !!!! " He was out by the time they reached the room. He was gray and unresponsive and not breathing. He was resuscitated. It took a while for me to come to peace about his birth. I do believe that the monitor and the help of the midwife in getting him out - faster than a C-section could have - and having the resuscitation team on hand - all saved his life. That morning, I ignored the advice of the midwife (a different one) on the phone who told me I was not really in labor and not to come in yet - and I listened instead to my own very strong , almost primal urges to get to the hospital ASAP. And I did end up in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, for his birth. I am thankful every day.

I am not sharing this to criticize homebirth, UC, etc. Only to share the truth of his birth story. Sometimes dangerous situations with cords do come up quickly and with no warning.
post #16 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlayaMama View Post
well, i always bring this story up because i like to balance the positive anecdotes.

my mom lost a full term baby that died while in labor from the cord being wrapped around his neck.

i should have two brothers and i only have one.

eta: she did not have a c-section and this was in the 70's so i don't think she had monitoring. he did have a heart beat when she started birthing.
This is oh so tragic. I can't begin to say that I understand how you or your mom or your family feel and I'm not going to belittle you can say I do.

I will say this. There is always more to a story. Was your brother's death preventable, maybe, who knows, probably no one. But a lot of different things could have gone on that played into that outcome. I'm not saying your mom made a mistake or her Dr. did something wrong. I'm sure everyone who was involved with the birth, did the best they knew how to do at the time it took place with the knowledge they had.

I say this because my mom (who died in 2000) had all 5 of us by cesarean because her "pelvis was too small". After really digging in and questioning my dad on ANY detail he remembered of the first birth, things were different. She was induced, no hydrotherapy, no position changes, no professional support, etc. All played into that role of ending up with CS. Of course I don't blame her. She did the best she knew how to do with at the situation that was presented. She was also a nurse and had a lot more knowledge than most 1st time moms, but Pit was new, and professional labor support was not encouraged.

I hope you don't find this offensive, as it is not what I aim for it to be. Much Love.
post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by AustinMom View Post
This is oh so tragic. I can't begin to say that I understand how you or your mom or your family feel and I'm not going to belittle you can say I do.

I will say this. There is always more to a story. Was your brother's death preventable, maybe, who knows, probably no one. But a lot of different things could have gone on that played into that outcome. I'm not saying your mom made a mistake or her Dr. did something wrong. I'm sure everyone who was involved with the birth, did the best they knew how to do at the time it took place with the knowledge they had.

I say this because my mom (who died in 2000) had all 5 of us by cesarean because her "pelvis was too small". After really digging in and questioning my dad on ANY detail he remembered of the first birth, things were different. She was induced, no hydrotherapy, no position changes, no professional support, etc. All played into that role of ending up with CS. Of course I don't blame her. She did the best she knew how to do with at the situation that was presented. She was also a nurse and had a lot more knowledge than most 1st time moms, but Pit was new, and professional labor support was not encouraged.

I hope you don't find this offensive, as it is not what I aim for it to be. Much Love.
But if the mother feels that her c-section or whatever interventions were necessary for the health of her baby, even if you (royal you, not you personally) have doubts about the story, is it really anyone's place to question it?

I had a medically-necessary c-section and sometimes feel like I need to go into detail to justify it to people, even though I have no regrets and no question that it was the best thing for my health and my baby's. If someone tried to tell me that my perinatologist misled me and even though my preeclampsia was fairly critical, and I should have pushed for induction rather than a c-section, I would be offended and irritated, TBH. When the peri came into my hospital room and said that 24 hours might be too long to wait until delivery, that's all I needed to know to have peace with a c-section. Period. As it was, my son's first Apgar was 1, and he had to be resuscitated at birth. He did have double nuchal cord, but that was probably the least of his problems.

But if I said that I had a c-section due to preeclampsia, and you only knew that information and not that gritty details, guaranteed there would be people who would judge me for allowing such intervention.
post #18 of 45
i think that it is appropriate to question the situation, but not the decision or the feelings of the mother and family.

the truth is that sometimes deaths and injuries to mothers and infants happen. they happen for reasons known and unknown.

when a person is in a place of grief--such as a new mother and family who has lost a most precious and wanted infant--often an answer is so much nicer than an "i don't know." a doctor may not know, and may explain that there were many anomalies about the birth (usually omitting how medical interventions may have contributed), and in the haze of grief, the family latches on to those snippets that make sense.

This is not to say that it wasn't the primary factor, or the prominent contributing factor, but that it also might not have been a factor at all under other circumstances, or simply and truly wasn't a factor at all period.

Birth is risky. Only a small percentage of births end badly for mother or child or both--but no matter where or how or with whom one births, the risk of death or injury is still there.

What is important is that we are informed so that we can make informed decisions and that we are attuned and respond quickly to our intuitions and urges when we feel that we need help. Time and time again, we observe how this urge and intuition guides us to the help we need for the best possible outcomes in those situations. and sometimes, even the best possible outcome involves the death or injury of either mother or child.

so when we decide to become pregnant, we are choosing this risk. this risk, it's a part of birth; it's a part of life.
post #19 of 45
My son was born UC 6 weeks ago with the cord ( it was white and never pulsed) around his neck twice. He was purple and as soon as I picked him up and rubbed his back he started screaming and pinked right up. So far he is happy and healthy. Somehow I knew it would happen.

My brother was born in hospital with the cord around his neck. He was blue and my parents said the doctor used a pen to open his airway? They were very scared and believed he might have died. My mother blames "being deprived of oxygen caused him to be hyper active." I thinks it's genetics.

Also my mothers water broke at the start of labor. I broke mine (please don't do this) before pushing maybe and hour or two before birth. This might have caused cord compression.
post #20 of 45
The cord around the neck isn't necessarily a problem, but cord injuries DO happen. Sometimes c-sections save lives. Sometimes it's the doctors administering too much pitocin that causes the too-strong contractions and decels in the first place.

My DD had a cord accident sometime during or prior to her birth (at home). We don't know what happened, but I'm fairly confident the doctors couldn't have done anything since she never showed signs of distress.

It sucks, but planning a homebirth, you DO have to be realistic of the dangers. And unfortunately for people birthing in the hospital, they are almost never aware of the dangers of hospital births. Which is one reason I still believe homebirthing is (in general) safer for most women.

For people with the scare tactics, just inform them that you know the risks, but ALSO know the risks of hospital birthing and you feel homebirth is the safer option for you. You can't argue against the possibility of cord injuries, because they DO happen and can never be completely predicted or prevented whether at home or in a hospital. But you can argue the differences in safety between your options.

ETA: I just like to say that it's kind of hurtful to hear cord injuries referred to as a "myth". My DD has severe disabilities and suffers every day due to lack of oxygen. She'll never walk or talk. She cannot even swallow her saliva. We suction it out 30-40 times a day with a machine. Due to extensive lung damage and autonomic problems, she will die quite young. She's already lived longer than most kids with her severity of brain damage. So while it may be a myth that this is a common problem that is always tragic, it's not a myth that it is real and does happen and can happen to anyone.
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