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, 

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

  1. So, they found out I have MCI at my 20 week ultrasound and never told me until now… I’m almost 37 weeks and I’m freaking out. Nothing has been explained to me and I’ve been having weekly ultrasounds because she has a cleft lip. I’m infuriated and can’t stop crying.

    1. Hi Aiden,
      So sorry you are going through this, I can imagine how nerve-wracking this must be! Like I mentioned in my post, most moms don’t even know they have MCI until after their placenta has been delivered. Keep me updated on how things went, I will keep you in my prayers!


  2. Paramarginal cord insertion was actually a factor in my daughter’s autopsy report. She was a stillbirth. The cord was wrapped too tightly around her leg and the para-marginal likely cord lent to this compression (so the pathologist says). I also had an undiagnosed placenta accreta but am now wondering if the doctor just didn’t pull too hard and rupture my placenta whose umbilical cord was 1.5 cm to the edge of the disc.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      I am so sorry to hear this, what a hard thing to go through! Sounds like you had an extreme case that sadly didn’t end well.
      This post is about my experience and information I gathered through talking with medical professionals in my area. Marginal cord insertion is definitely not without any risk, however, from what I learned it sounds a lot more dangerous than it really is.
      Sorry to hear you are part of that small percentile that it was dangerous for.
      Wishing you all the best,

  3. Hi,

    Thank you for the post, It really helped me.
    I am in 20 weeks and 2 days, Baby weight around 12 ounces (44%ile) with Marginal cord insertion on superior edge, 1.3 cm. Is this same with your case? I am so stressed seeing google results and just want to know your feedback.


  4. I know this is an older post, but I just wanted to say thank you so much. Just had my 20 week scan today with our 3rd, and found out about having this as well. Your post is essentially everything my OB told me, but seeing it from another with the same experience has tremendously calmed my anxiety. I’ll probably come back to reread this if my anxiety rears it’s ugly head again. Thank you so much again for sharing. ❤️

    1. Hi Kristin,
      Aw that makes me so happy, this is why I do and share these things! Glad my post was able to calm those annoying pregnancy fears that come creeping up every once in a while! Wishing you all the best and God’s blessings!


  5. Thank you for all the information, now after reading this I can be calm and wait with no worries for my little baby girl!!!

  6. 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!

      1. Thank you for writing this, as I just got out of my anatomy scan I got those words and sheer panic set over me your words have been calming. Instead of reading nonsense on Google..

        1. Hi Adriana,
          I’m so glad I could calm you and inform you! It can be really scary when you are told something is wrong, but this is typically nothing to worry about as it doesn’t change anything about the pregnancy or how well baby is doing!

          Glad this helped!

          1. Thank you for this information! I also found out I have marginal cord and have been distraught ever since :(. Your post helped me today. Will the baby still get the same amount of oxygen and nutrients as they would in normal umbilical cord placement?

            1. Hi Elena,
              I’m glad this helped! And yes for sure, baby is still getting exactly everything it needs! Midwives say that most of the time this isn’t even caught or seen until the placenta is delivered. That’s how unserious is actually is! It just sounds super scary and isn’t well explained unfortunately!

              Hope this helps!

    2. My daughter was just diagnosed with the same and has us all in a panic. She is due in may and right now the baby’s size is in the 43 percentile. Was your baby small at birth and did you have to have a c-section. Thankyou for sharing

      1. Hello Janet,

        I’m so sorry to hear this as it is definitely quite scary at first. But personally, I can assure you as a doula, this marginal cord insertion is almost never a problem. My baby was completely fine and I wouldn’t worry about the numbers too much. I was able to have a completely natural birth. There has been numerous times I have encountered wrong estimates of a baby in the womb, so the numbers don’t play a big role, as long as baby is healthy and growing! Feel free to reach out with any questions!


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