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Signs of fetal distress that doctors should recognize

Fetal distress occurs when a baby experiences complications before or during labor and delivery. If a problem goes unaddressed, it can lead to a terrible birth injury.

Thus, obstetricians and midwives must recognize the signs of fetal distress in expectant mothers. Healthcare providers treating pregnant women need to take action when they encounter any form of prenatal trouble.

Abnormal fetal heart rate

An abnormal heart rate is one of the most obvious signs of fetal distress. During labor, medical professionals must use electronic fetal monitoring to track the baby’s heart rate. Healthy fetal heart rates range between 110 and 160 beats per minute. A heart rate that is too high (tachycardia) or too low (bradycardia) can indicate that the baby is not receiving enough oxygen.

Decreased fetal movement

Babies usually move frequently in the womb, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. A noticeable decrease in movement can be a sign of distress. Expectant mothers monitor their baby’s movements and report any significant changes to their healthcare providers. When doctors receive this information, they should immediately address whether the baby is receiving enough oxygen or nutrients.

Meconium-stained amniotic fluid

Amniotic fluid surrounds and protects the baby in the womb. Under normal conditions, this fluid is clear. However, when a baby is experiencing distress, it may pass meconium, the first stool, into the amniotic fluid. Responsible medical professionals monitor this condition closely, as inhaling meconium can lead to breathing problems after birth.

Elevated maternal blood pressure

High blood pressure in the mother, known as preeclampsia, reduces blood flow to the placenta, thus limiting the baby’s oxygen and nutrient supply. Symptoms include severe headaches, swelling and protein in the urine. Doctors who misdiagnose this condition can wind up inadvertently harming a newborn.

Obstetricians need to listen closely to pregnant women and administer tests the moment they receive concerning information. To do otherwise is a breach of the doctor-patient relationship.