Fetal distress is when the unborn baby feels unwell, or is unable to cope with the challenges during the process of delivery. A doctor would be able to determine if the baby is going through distress or not. This HerHaleness article gives you a brief idea on the possible symptoms you may look out for.
Fetal distress is a term used to describe the uneasiness felt by the fetus during labor. There are many ways through which one can determine if the baby is in distress or not, however, the reliable way is a thorough checkup done by healthcare specialists. Doctors tend to monitor the baby’s heartbeat during the labor process. Any drop in the heart rate is a sign of the fetus being in distress. However, symptoms can be felt by the mother, as well.
Fetal distress can be caused by a number of reasons, some of them being very common. However, be assured that there is nothing that the mother could have done to cause this distress. It happens naturally during some pregnancies due to uncontrollable reasons. The following are the possible causes.
- The umbilical cord forming a loop around the baby’s neck (this is the most common cause, seen in about 30% cases)
- Placental abruption
- Uterine rupture
- Uterine infection
- Multiple births, like in case of twins, triplets, or more
- Shoulder dystocia
- Abnormal fetal position and presentation
When a baby is healthy in utero, he has a strong, stable heartbeat, and responds to various stimuli with corresponding movements. This means the baby is not under any kind of fetal distress during labor. However, during fetal distress, the movement of the fetus reduces. However, the point to be noted is that, when the baby is due, the movements tend to reduce due to the compact space in the uterus, not allowing your baby to move as freely as before. The following signs may help identify any distress to the baby.
- When the heart rate of the fetus drops below 100 to 120 beats per minute, or if it is irregular or unstable.
- Abnormal positioning of the baby leads to lack of oxygen. Therefore, the doctor should find the solution to overcome oxygen deprivation. The doctor may deliver the baby immediately to overcome the chances of brain damage or death.
- Change in the pattern of movement, or sudden reduction in the movement, are alarming signs.
- When the baby is still in the uterus, and passes meconium (first stool), the situation becomes critical as the meconium, mixed with the amniotic fluid, may have been swallowed by the fetus; that may prove to be a toxic concoction.
The symptoms mentioned above are seen in babies during the time of labor. However, mothers should always pay attention to the signals given out by their bodies. The female body is a marvelous creation that immediately exhibits signs of the baby’s distress to the mother. Call it a mother’s intuition or observation, immediate medical attention is needed as soon as any of the signs mentioned below are observed.
Absence of Fetal Movement
While your baby grows, he tends to move around a lot during a particular time of the day. You need to remember when your baby is most active, and the number of kicks you feel during this time. For example, you should remember if your baby kicks you 12 times during a particular time of the day. However, if on a particular day, your baby did not kick you that often or did not move at all, call your doctor immediately.
Spotting or Vaginal Bleeding
Many times, women experience spotting or bleeding during pregnancy. If you experience spotting or vaginal bleeding, it may indicate a miscarriage. You need to contact your doctor immediately.
Cramping during pregnancy may arise due to a number of reasons. If you experience cramps, along with bleeding, contact the medical emergency unit immediately. This may be a sign of miscarriage.
Women tend to gain around 20 to 25 pounds of weight during pregnancy. However, if you are gaining a very low amount of weight, it may be an alarming sign. This indicates that the baby is not getting enough nutrients. Too much weight gain may indicate gestational diabetes, or that the fetus is growing too big for the mother to handle during labor.
If you experience water breaking before 37 weeks of your pregnancy, it is an indication of fetal distress. You are going into early labor, during a time that is unsafe for the baby to come out. You need to seek medical attention as immediate delivery will be required.
These were some important aspects pertaining to fetal distress, that a mother should always be aware of. You should speak to your doctor regarding the risk involved with your delivery, and take all the precautions required for a safe pregnancy and delivery.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used
as a replacement for expert medical advice.