This is an amazing birth story. Please don’t think I’m putting it here to scare you, but instead, to educate you, if you have the rare birth complication of a cord prolapse. This baby was born completely healthy, due to the mother’s quick thinking. I’ve included down the bottom a ‘How to Handle a Cord Prolapse’ guide from another site. The lady who originally posted this story on her blog is great. Go check it out her site.
A reader recently sent me an incredible birth story, and I wanted to share it with you. After a few irregular contractons, she had a cord prolapse at home. She wrote to me:
“This was a planned homebirth…we had called the midwife as soon as my water broke to have her come out (my water had never broke previous to the pushing stage before). Then when I stood to get up, I saw the cord. Feel free to post and link back to me, I thought it was a story you might be interested in hearing. Amazingly, when I went in for my postpartum visit with the OB who did the c-section, the first thing he said to me was, ‘You know, nothing would have been any different if you had planned a hospital birth. You still would have been at home when your water broke and the cord would still have prolapsed.’ I was amazed at how positive he was and how willing he was to admit this was not a ‘home birth’ issue. I think Apollo’s story is important for people to hear…being knowledgeable about that one issue (what to do in case of a cord prolapse) is what saved his life.”
Friday night after we put the children to bed, Chuck and I sat down to watch a movie. As I sat idly rubbing my belly, I noticed the baby had once again turned transverse. I had a head bulging on one side and bottom bulging on the other. We looked at each other and sighed…
The movie ended and I headed to bed at 11:20. Sometime after midnight I woke up to a strong contraction…I had a few more, very strong but infrequent (12-20 minutes apart). I was uncomfortable so I kept making trips back and forth to the bathroom. At one point I finished up in the bathroom and was about to stand up when my water broke with a pop and a gush. The water just poured out of and wouldn’t stop. I called to Chuck (who had headed to bed only 10 minutes before) but he didn’t hear me. Once the flood slowed a bit I put a towel between my legs and waddled down the hall, gushing fluid the whole way. I flicked on our bedroom light and told Chuck my water broke. I headed back the toilet where the fluid continued to pour out.
We were immediately on high alert. If you read my previous birth stories, you know my water has never broken before I was fully dilated and ready to push…and in every case except Hezekiah, the water broke as the baby was emerging. Was I in for a long, long labor? Or were we going to deliver this baby in the next ten minutes by ourselves???
Chuck got the phone and called the (back-up) midwife and asked he to come out to the house and check me. He turned and headed down the hall and I stood up…I glanced down and saw a good 3 ½ inches of umbilical hanging out of me.
This was the single worst moment of my life. A prolapsed cord = death of the baby…the only way this can be prevented is with an immediate c-section…and I was alone in my bathroom.
Nightmare or not, I didn’t hesitate for one second. I grabbed the cord and stuffed it back when it belonged, then slid to lie down on the bathroom floor. I yelled down the hall to Chuck, “Chuck, the cord’s prolapsed, call 911 NOW.”
He came back in and said he needed to call the midwife. “No, call 911.”
“I need to call the midwife first,” he said. He still had the phone in his hand- he had only made it down the hall a few steps when I realized the cord was prolapsed.
“Call the midwife, then 911.”
The conversation with the midwife was short. “The cord’s prolapsed.” “Call 911 and get to the hospital,” the midwife replied. As he called 911, I crab walked into the playroom, holding the cord in the whole time. I lay on the couch with a couple of pillows under me and soon realized I could not keep holding the cord in. Chuck needed to do it. With out a moment’s hesitation, up went his hand to keep the cord safe in my uterus. Soon I realized I couldn’t keep holding up my pelvic area so I slid down until my bottom was on the couch and my head on the floor. Chuck shoved another pillow under my bum.
It of course seemed to take forever for the ambulance to arrive but Chuck said it only took 10-12 minutes. Once we heard them on the property, we realized we had no way to unlock the door. No one else in the house was awake…after a moment of deliberation, Chuck let go, dashed across the room to unlock the door and ran back to me. Up went his hand again.
The paramedics were a bit shocked by the scene they fell upon…by this time I was hanging halfway off the couch–upside down, jammies around my ankles and Chuck was holding the cord in. “Can you see the head?” they asked. “NO! The baby’s not being born- the cord is prolapsed.” It took several explanations to get them to understand the situation. All the while I was trying to stay relaxed…so I wouldn’t bring on more contractions. Once Chuck could hang up the phone, he called a neighbor to stay with the kids. There we were–headed away in an ambulance in the middle of the night. Chuck had no wallet, no shoes (a paramedic grabbed a pair for him and our neighbor his cell phone). Off we went.
Once in the ambulance, Chuck called my mom to come out to the house with the kids and get everyone she knew to pray–the baby’s very life was on the line. The ride seemed to me to take forever (but by checking his cell phone record, we saw it took only 19 minutes to get from our road into the OR). As soon as we arrived they wheeled us straight through the front doors of the childbirth center at the hospital and through the lobby. I can only imagine what the visitors thought as they saw me rushed in on a gurney, Chuck’s hand inside me, and the paramedics running full speed.
The OB was waiting for us and ushered us into a room with an ultrasound machine. After it warmed up he put it on my stomach and said, “There’s a heartbeat–we’re doing surgery. Code Purple!” They of course had the room all set up and ready to go for us. In we went (I heard them yell, “Entering the room at 2:45!”) They of course had no time for an epidural. It took about five minutes to prep me and put me out. As they were prepping me, they noticed my jammies around my ankles and someone removed them. Meanwhile, Chuck was still holding the cord in place.
The doctor elected to do a “bikini cut.” Despite coming c-section, Apollo still refused to come out! In fact, he came out breech and had his feet caught up under my ribs. Chuck was able to remove his hand just as they maneuvered Apollo out and had a great view of his gender. They warned Chuck ahead that he needed to stay back as they worked on Apollo. He wasn’t crying, was floppy and of course had lungs and a tummy full of fluid. He had to be transported to the nursery because his lungs were “wet.” Chuck spent the first hours with Apollo, holding his hand, rubbing him and talking to him.
Chuck likes to tease me about how after finding out the baby was alive, I came out of the anesthesia hollering for pain medication because my stomach hurt so bad. I’ll admit it–I was yelling and insisting they give me something for the pain, which they did. I was wheeled back to a room and Chuck stayed with Apollo.
There is no doubt that Apollo surviving the prolapsed cord at home is a miracle. Thank God I knew what a prolapsed cord was and thank God Chuck had the courage to do what he did. I only had one contraction after my water broke–another miracle. Contractions would have moved Apollo down and pushed on the cord. It took only nineteen minutes to get from our house the operating room. It took 14 minutes from entering the operating room until Apollo’s birth. The doctors and nurses all told Chuck he saved Apollo’s life by holding his cord in and allowing him to breathe. A maternity nurse on duty said she has never heard of a baby surviving a prolapsed cord that started at home.
I have no regrets. I don’t regret the c-section, not seeing him for his first few hours or anything else about the experience. I am only grateful to have my beautiful baby alive and healthy.
Our son is a miracle, and my husband a hero.
How to Handle a Cord Prolapse
A cord prolapse can be an extremely dangerous situation. When a cord prolapses completely, the umbilical cord descends out of the cervix and possibly the vagina before the baby’s head. If this happens, the baby’s head can pinch the cord and diminish the oxygen supply, which is known as hypoxia. Complete cord prolapse is very rare and generally occurs when the amniotic sac ruptures and the baby’s head is not yet engaged into the pelvic outlet. Here is what to do in case this occurs.
- The first thing you should do if you experience a cord prolapse is remain calm. This will enable you to think properly and keep you and your baby safe.
- If you have someone with you, have them call the paramedics immediately. If you are alone, get to a phone and call the paramedics. You should immediately state that you have a cord prolapse and need assistance.
- Knee Chest Position
- Quickly get down into a knees-chest position. To do this, place both knees and both elbows on the floor. Lower your chest to the floor and let your head rest on your arms or the floor, whichever is more comfortable. Your buttocks should be raised in the air. This position is not comfortable, but it essentially redirects gravity so that the baby will “fall out” of the pelvis and release pressure on the cord.
- If you are alone and the cord is hanging out of the vagina, gently try to push it back in. If it does not seem to go back in easily, leave it alone and stay in that position until help arrives.
- If you have someone with you, have them grab a washcloth and run it under warm water. Have them bring you the soaked washcloth and gently wrap the cord in it. If you have a plastic bag, cover the washcloth. If the cord is handled roughly or is exposed to air for a long time, it could cause constriction.
- Stay in this position until help arrives.