What Is Marginal Cord Insertion (and What Does It Mean for My Baby)?

When the phone conversation begins, “We don’t normally call patients with their results because they typically have questions,” you know you’re probably going to get some news you weren’t necessarily expected…I got the call on a Tuesday afternoon and the emotions that followed hit me like a freight train despite my efforts to stay calm, trust my doctor, and have faith that God had our baby in his hands. The diagnosis we received following our full anatomy ultrasound was that I potentially had a marginal cord insertion that could adversely affect the baby later in the pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be scary, especially when it involves an uncommon diagnosis. Learn more about marginal cord insertion and what it means for you and baby.

The nurse with whom I was speaking assured me that the baby was fine now and that the issue was not a grave threat. However, later in the pregnancy we’d have to monitor more closely to insure that the baby grew appropriately. I accepted her reassurance and immediately started googling the condition once we got off the phone.

As I googled, I discovered that the information online ranged anywhere from mildly helpful/reassuring to downright terrifying…With that, I aimed to make it my goal to provide more information to others than I had, should the diagnosis be confirmed.

I was able to return to my regular doctor two weeks later who again reminded me that our baby was healthy at the time and should the diagnosis be confirmed, it would most likely only mean additional monitoring. She also encouraged us that the issue could potentially be a false diagnosis being that she actually had never treated a patient with a marginal cord insertion diagnosed during gestation. We scheduled the appointment with the specialist she suggested and felt reassured that the prognosis was good.

The next week we went to the specialist – a high risk obstetrician – feeling positive about our baby’s health, and the potential that we didn’t really have the condition. However, after a quick but thorough ultrasound the specialist confirmed what the original ultrasound suggested. I indeed do have a marginal cord insertion; however, the cord was solidly implanted and did not look like it would have to great of an effect on the baby’s health.

What Is Marginal Cord Insertion?

A marginal cord insertion is a cord abnormality that involves the umbilical cord being inserted on the edge of the placenta rather than in the center. The specialist explained to me that ideally the cord is located in the center of the placenta; however, there are times when it migrates to a more optimal location for gaining nutrition, which is likely what happened in our case. He also reassured that the issue is not an immediately threatening condition, yet being that some of the nutrients have a further distance to travel to reach the baby, it could affect the baby’s development, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be scary, especially when it involves an uncommon diagnosis. Learn more about marginal cord insertion and what it means for you and baby.

Potential Risks of Marginal Cord Insertion

While we didn’t have much information beyond the basics, our doctors did indicate that a few risk factors do exist in conjunction with marginal cord placement. Because the cord is not secured in the optimal location, there are a few risks involved, including:

  • Delayed fetal growth
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Placental abruption

With the potential risks, our doctors felt additional monitoring was the best route of treatment; however, some doctors view it as so minimal an issue they don’t change treatment at all. In any case, when you’re dealing with any issue that makes pregnancy anything but “typical,” I think it’s best to have all of the information possible. So, knowing exactly what the condition was as well as the associated risk factors helped me come to peace with the condition. And, as a good friend encouraged me after I had shared with her, God had this in His plan all along – it wasn’t a surprise to Him. A marginal cord insertion just allowed us to have another piece of our story in preparing and caring for a precious little one.

Have you received a marginal cord insertion diagnosis? How did you deal with your unexpected diagnosis?

5 thoughts on “What Is Marginal Cord Insertion (and What Does It Mean for My Baby)?

  1. Pingback: Treating Marginal Cord Insertion – Living Contently

  2. Kris

    Thank you for your post. I received this diagnosis today at 16 weeks and am a little bit freaked out at the moment. Did you end up going to term and delivering a healthy baby?

  3. Renee

    I also have received this diagnosis and my doctor has been treating it as nothing serious, yet I am worried. I was given one extra ultrasound at 28 weeks to confirm all was growing well but haven’t heard anything as to the results. I have a regular appointment tomorrow. I am currently 30 weeks and praying everything is and will be fine. I am going to try to get some more information.

    1. Leesha Post author

      Renee, so many women I talk to have the same experience. Unfortunately not every doctor provides the same level of information and support. It’s still a diagnosis there isn’t a ton of information about, but still having a little extra is helpful! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is any way I can be of more help! I’ll be praying your sweet little one continues growing just as he or she should!


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