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Midwife holds baby in place for 90 minutes after cord prolapse

When writing your birth plan you don’t think that having your midwife’s hand in your vagina for 90 minutes holding your baby would be on the list. But that’s what happened to Ms Facey.

Sometimes, as a midwife, your day doesn’t go quite how you expected it to. New Zealand Midwife Ms Bree has been dubbed a “superhero” after assisting a couple with a challenging birth (massive understatement), during which she supported their baby by hand within the birth canal for 90 minutes!

The parents-to-be Ms Facey and Mr Bolton were expecting a baby who had adopted a breech position but her waters broke and they noticed the umbilical cord ‘hanging out’, having prolapsed. Thinking they could be in trouble, they got straight back on the phone to their midwife, Ms Bree, who advised Ms Facey to keep the baby’s weight off the cord by assuming a head-down, bum-up position immediately. Ms Bree then hot-footed it to the ferry while they called the emergency services.

What is a prolapsed cord?

Prolapsed umbilical cords are uncommon, occurring in between 1 in 200 and 1 in 1000 births, but if it does happen it is an emergency.

Ms Bree arrived and had to immediately get to work. She inserted her hand to manually hold the baby’s weight and take the pressure off the cord. She also managed to check baby's pulse with her other hand AND call the obstetrician by balancing the phone on mum's bum. It’s a little known fact that midwives are basically multitasking octopuses!

Ms Facey was escorted (we imagine rather inelegantly, poor thing) by an army of volunteers and emergency service staff to the local school playing field where she was air-lifted to her nearest hospital. It sounds like she had quite the audience for her epic journey.

Ms Bree supported the baby’s weight the entire time – around an hour and a half – right up until Ms Facey went into surgery. And after the amazing combined efforts of the midwife, ferry and helicopter crew, St John’s volunteers and hospital staff (and a lot of drama) baby Emilia was born by urgent ceasarean. The new dad said:

"The doctors expected to do a full resuscitation but she coughed into life, she was perfect. She’s a little miracle."

It just goes to show that you should plan for your best case scenario but you should also be prepared for some unlikely challenges just in case. And remember to call the professionals if anything doesn’t seem quite right.

Our (equally heroic) midwife Anna says:

"A cord prolapse is a rare incident but one that midwives and doctors are well trained in. Midwives cover this emergency scenario during skills and drills in their annual mandatory training and although it is rare midwives are always prepared for this scenario."

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