Marginal Cord Insertion: What does it actually mean?

marginal cord insertion on an ultrasound

Let me guess, you went to your baby’s ultrasound only to hear a completely new word: marginal cord insertion. It sounds scary, no, actually… you are terrified. You know you have it, but what does marginal cord insertion actually mean?  

Is it dangerous? Will there be any complications?

What if I told you I have all the answers – yes, I really do! Read on to find all the questions to those millions of questions buzzing around in your head! 

What is marginal cord insertion? 

Marginal cord insertion is the medical term referred to the location the umbilical cord attaches to the placenta. 

Visualize this. Your placenta is as big as a dinner plate (when full-term). Normally, the cord attaches to the middle of the placenta, where the thickest and most dense tissue can be found. 

In a marginal cord insertion, the cord is not in the middle, but rather at the edge of the placenta. 

If you heard the term “velamentous cord insertion” that is whole different thing, and you can read about it more here

Is it common? 

It is actually much more common than you think! Roughly 8.5% of pregnancies have marginal cord insertion, and most women do not actually know they have it until they have delivered the baby and the placenta. 

So, you are definitely not alone! 

Will it go away or stay? 

There is a slight chance the cord may move with the growing of the placenta, but this is rather unlikely. It is more likely that nothing changes, and the cord and placenta will grow at the same rate and you will deliver a healthy and beautiful baby! 

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Is it considered high risk? 

Marginal cord insertion is not considered high risk as there is no medical risk to the baby and to the mother. Most of the time, everything goes smoothly and not the mother, or the baby is even aware of this condition. 

blood flow in the placenta on an ultrasound

Is marginal cord insertion dangerous? 

Even though it sounds scary, it really isn’t anything you have to worry about. Like mentioned before, it is very common, and unless you don’t have a velamentous cord insertion, you shouldn’t worry at all! 

The only risk with marginal cord insertion is that when the placenta is pulled during delivery (which some doctors do), it may not come off in one piece, which would require some intervention. 

Most of the time, however, the medical staff will be very careful with the delivery of the placenta and guide it out, rather than pull it. However, occasionally there are those doctors who like to pull on the placenta roughly, increasing the chance of it tearing as the cord is not inserted into the dense tissue but rather the less structural outside tissue. 

So, if you know you have it, make sure to include it in your birth plan and inform any new nurses or doctors about it, so they make sure to be extra careful in helping you deliver the placenta. 

Will there be any complications for me and baby? 

While there is the slight chance that a rough delivery of the placenta may cause it to not fully detach, this risk accompanies every birth, as is not something you should worry about.  

With a marginal cord insertion, there is no actual medical risk for the expecting mother or baby. The placenta is always carefully examined when birthed, and should there be any tearing, appropriate interventions can quickly take place to remove the rest of the placenta.

woman getting an ultrasound during her pregnancy.

What do you do when you have marginal cord insertion? 

Honestly, forget about it! Don’t worry or sweat it at all, it is super common, normal, and nothing to be concerned about. 

You may have another extra ultrasound just to check and confirm it is there, but that wouldn’t make a difference in the delivery process anyway. 

My story on marginal cord insertion 

After my 20-week ultrasound, I got a call from the clinic stating they needed to book me in for another ultrasound, something that doesn’t happen unless something is wrong. 

A full hour of panicking and imagining the worst for me and my baby, my midwife got in contact with me and informed me about the marginal cord insertion that has been found. 

Queue the googling and research frenzy. 

I found there to rarely be any helpful information, so have compiled this blog post for other mommas going through the exact same thing. 

My birthing experience went smoothly, and I experienced no complications due to this, so don’t worry momma! Everything will be a-okay!

Until next time, 

2 thoughts on “Marginal Cord Insertion: What does it actually mean?”

  1. I was just diagnosed with this at my anatomy scan and of course have been freaking out ever since. Reading this post really helped to put my mind at ease. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Hi Hannah, I feel you. I was bawling my eyes out all day…it’s tough going through something like this with little information, glad this helped!

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