Fetal distress describes a state where the fetus receives inadequate oxygen during pregnancy or when the mother is in labor. It may be caused by meconium staining, maternal illness, fetal infection, and pregnancy-induced hypertension among other factors. You can also check out this link for more information.
Signs of Fetal Distress
There are several signs that indicate a fetal is in distress.
- Abnormal Heart Rate Patterns
Doctors can detect an abnormal heart rate in a fetus by using an internal or external monitoring device. Note that during labor, the fetal heart rate will reduce slightly during contraction. Generally, doctors expect some level of variability between contractions. However, there are some patterns which are abnormal. For instance:
- An abrupt decrease in the heart rate.
- A slow heart rate that’s considered abnormal.
- Abnormal baseline heart rate return after contraction.
- An extremely fast heart rate.
- Vaginal Bleeding
It’s normal for expectant women to bleed during pregnancy. However, it’s usually in small amounts. Heavy bleeding could indicate a serious complication such as placental abruption. When the placenta is torn from the womb, the baby will likely end up being deprived of oxygen. Based on the size as well as the location of the placental abruption, the fetus may end up in distress.
- Reduced Fetal Movements
All pregnant women normally experience fetal movement within the womb at certain points. Note that a decrease in these movements is also normal because the baby may be sleeping. But if there is no noticeable movement for a prolonged period, then the fetus may be in distress.
- Abnormal Maternal Weight Gain
Most women gain a lot of weight during pregnancy. However, the pregnancy weight should be within the normal ranges i.e. between 25 pounds and 35 pounds. Anything more than that could be an indication of fetal distress. An abnormal weight gain during pregnancy can lead to intrauterine growth restriction which means that the baby may be smaller than normal.
An expectant woman will experience slight cramping from time to time. Cramping happens because the baby is growing and the uterus needs to enlarge. However, there are instances when cramping could be a sign that the baby is in distress. This may happen as a result of preeclampsia, miscarriage, preterm labor, or placental abruption.