Well, this is freaking me out a little… lot…

Last updated on February 17, 2021

I think it’s because Toby’s birthday is only a couple of weeks away, but I finally succumbed to the impulse to try to find some kind of information on umbilical cord accidents (UCAs).

Ever since it happened, I was told that it’s a totally random occurrence and that there are no known factors for UCAs. It just happens, and there’s no way to screen for it and no real way to prevent it.

Except, that’s apparently not necessarily the case. This study says that 1) low blood pressure is a common factor, as is high fetal activity. Genetic (family-wide) abnormalities in cord development can be a factor. Also, when it’s happened once, there is a statistically and practically higher chance of it happening again. Specifically:
Because in case reports these patterns are similar, it suggests UCA stillbirths are not random but due to specific intrauterine behavior of the fetus. These behaviors are limited in scope, just as a newborn is limited in its’ movements. Because there are purposeful reasons for UCA, the same factors can lead to repeat events in the same mother. UCA can no longer be dispelled as random. Overall, stillbirth may be a statistically significant risk factor for subsequent pregnancies. There are no studies looking specifically at UCA associated stillbirth repetition.
Constriction does repeat in the same mother suggesting a genetic origin. From interviews, several verbal case histories have been documented of constriction stillbirth where one mother experienced four episodes in a row.

There is another page here that sums it up pretty well.

Does anyone have any suggestions for raising blood pressure? Mine at the last prenatal visit was 80 over 60 – down from 88 over 62. Fetal activity? High. He’s even already gotten the hiccups. Oh, yeah, and there’s the family history of weird umbilical cords (Dani’s only had two vessels).

I know that it’s normal to get emotional and freaked out around this time of year, and that there are sooooo many factors for twisting that particular knife a little more, but it’s better to know that you can do something about it, no matter how scary, than to continue being in the dark, right?

That sad, sinking feeling came back – the one that says this might not go well – but I can’t tell if it’s fear or intuition. That is the scariest part.

Dawn Written by:


  1. August 10, 2007

    Do you have a fetal heart monitor at home? If not I would highly suggest you get one, pronto. I have read somewhere that fetuses can sometimes show signs of distress days before having this sort of horrible accident. If you listen to the baby every day, you can track any changes in heart rate, and if there are any perturbances you can get to the emergency room and they can help you. Here is one link, here is a better one. Good luck!

  2. August 10, 2007

    Eating salty foods, gaining some major weight, taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) has been linked to rises in BP and is safe to take throughout pregnancy, increase your water intake, and compression stockings (panty-hose) all help with low BP.

  3. August 11, 2007

    My blood pressure has always been on the low side. One thing always makes it read higher for me though… caffeine. When I was pregnant, on days I had dr appts, I don’t drink my latte/coffee until afterwards because pregnancy itself put me into the normal range and the caffeine would put me in the higher end of normal sometimes and then I’d get lectured.

    Not that I drank a lot of caffeine when I was pregnant (no lectures, please! ;)) but I NEED it at least in the morning, it helps with my migraines.

    Don’t worry though, everything will be fine. You’ll make sure of that; I have complete faith.

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