Pregnancy comes with a tangled web of information that can easily overload you. If you are expecting, or just hoping to be expecting, you know there are mountains of books to read. In an attempt to make the information a little easier to tackle, this short discussion will tell you the basics you need to know about fetal distress. It is a condition that still does not have well defined regulation, so you want to help your caregivers keep an eye out for it. While your doctor's and nurse's have a duty to do everything they can for you and your baby, mistakes and oversights do happen, so it is important to arm yourself with knowledge about the symptoms and warning signs of fetal distress.
What is fetal distress?
Fetal distress is not a properly defined medical term, but it typically refers to conditions where a fetus is deprived of oxygen during pregnancy or delivery. This is not the same as birth asphyxia, which is a more specific cause of oxygen deprivation -- namely compressions caused by the umbilical cord. The situations that do contribute to fetal distress include the following:
- Anemia - This can be anemia of either the mother or the baby.
- Oligohydramnios - This is a condition where there is too little amniotic fluid in the cavity.
- Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) - This is caused by high blood pressure in the mother.
- Post-term pregnancies - These are pregnancies that go beyond 42 weeks.
- Intrauterine Growth Retardation (IUGR) - This is when babies develop at slower than normal rates in the womb.
- Meconium-stained amniotic fluid - This happens when the baby's first stool is in the amniotic cavity and blocks the airway.
There are many different causes of fetal distress, which if not caught or treated properly by medical professionals can lead to serious complications, like brain injury, and may even be fatal.
How is fetal distress treated?
Treatments for fetal distress will depend on several factors. The stage of pregnancy, cause of the distress and additional complications are all part of the equation. Some of the simplest treatments involve changing the mother's position during labor or keeping her hydrated. More complicated procedures include amnioinfusion (a technique that adds fluid to the amniotic cavity) and cesarean sections. Other treatments may involve providing oxygen, delaying contractions or intravenous hypertonic dextrose.
Health professionals should be monitoring the baby's vital signs closely during labor and delivery. If you or your healthcare providers notice anything abnormal make sure the possibility of fetal distress is considered. Failure to monitor, diagnose the condition or treat fetal distress appropriately may be considered negligence and legal action may be necessary to protect your child's rights. If your infant has suffered injury during labor or delivery and you have questions about how the injuries may have occurred contact Attorney Alan D. Bell. Attorney Bell can investigate the situation and discuss your legal options in the case of medical malpractice.