Brittle Umbilical Cord?


Dear Midwife,
I am a 35-year-old who recently (May 16th) lost my baby at only 22 weeks pregnant. I am assuming it was due to premature rupture of membranes. My water broke and then I was dilated to 5 cm before anyone could do anything about it. I have had 2 other miscarriages before within the first 6 weeks. This was the only pregnancy to last. I am diabetic and have had a blood clot, so there are 2 things against me.But my question is: When my doctor was trying to remove the placenta, my umbilical cord broke off in his hand. I asked him and have searched the net as to why that would happen, but I haven't found a reason. Could you explain to me why this occurred? No one seems to be able to help me. I would appreciate an answer even if you can't help me.Thank you for your time.


First, I am so sorry for your losses. I can't even imagine how hard they must be. The umbilical cord, at that gestation, is not fully developed and is still thin and not very strong. Also, the placenta is not ready to detach as easily as it would be at term, as it is still usually Grade I (instead of Grade III). So it is really lucky when the cord is strong enough to deliver the placenta without a D&C, but often a D&C is required.

-- Cynthia, CNM

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.