Fetal distress refers to the signs before and during childbirth indicating that a fetus is unwell. It is an uncommon complication of labor, typically occuring when the fetus has not been receiving enough oxygen.
Fetal distress may occur when a pregnancy lasts too long or if there are complications during pregnancy or labor. Indications of fetal distress during delivery may include:
- Prolonged or difficult labor
- Perinatal hypoxia
- Umbilical cord problems such as a compressed or prolapsed cord
- Shoulder dystocia
- Abnormal electronic fetal monitoring tracings
Medical staff should be alerted to the first sign of fetal distress and take appropriate action immediately. The level of treatment varies depending on an individual baby’s problem, but there are many procedures that can save an infant from lifelong injuries.
Treatment for fetal distress, according to the American Pregnancy Association, may include the following procedures:
- Changing the mother’s birthing position
- Alleviating umbilical cord compression
- Ensuring the mother is hydrated and has enough oxygen
- Tocolytics, medications used to delay preterm labor
Sometimes, an emergency cesarean section is necessary to protect a baby and/or the mother from a severe birth injury.
If You Suspect Your Baby’s Injuries were Preventable
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