Birth Definitions

Cord Compression Definition


Cord compression is a condition that can occur during pregnancy when the umbilical cord becomes compressed. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including the baby’s position in the womb, the mother’s position during labor, or abnormalities of the umbilical cord itself. Cord compression can be a serious complication, as it can lead to decreased blood flow to the fetus and oxygen deprivation. If not treated promptly, cord compression can cause fetal death.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for cord compression. These include:

-Abnormalities of the umbilical cord: There are a number of congenital abnormalities that can predispose the umbilical cord to compression. These include single umbilical artery, true knotting of the cord, and short cord length.

-Malposition of the fetus: The fetus may be in an abnormal position in the womb (such as breech or transverse lie) that increases the risk for cord compression.

-Maternal obesity: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of cord compression due to the added pressure on the abdomen from the extra weight.

-Prolonged labor: Prolonged labor (> 20 hours) is associated with an increased risk of cord compression due to the prolonged pressure on the umbilical cord


Cord compression can lead to a number of complications, including:

-Decreased blood flow to the fetus: This can lead to oxygen deprivation and potential brain damage.

-Fetal death: If cord compression is not treated promptly, it can lead to fetal death.

-Umbilical cord rupture: This is a rare complication that can occur if the cord is compressed for too long, leading to loss of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.

This image shows how often the term ‘Cord compression’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Disambiguation Details

Cord compression should not be confused with umbilical cord prolapse, which is a separate condition where the umbilical cord falls into the birth canal ahead of the baby. Both conditions can lead to decreased blood flow and oxygen deprivation to the fetus, but they are different conditions with different management.

Some terms that are closely associated with cord compression include: umbilical cord, pregnancy, labor, delivery, fetal distress.

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