Fetal distress refers to signs before and during childbirth that indicates your unborn child may not be well. It is an unusual complication of labor and most often happens when your baby is not receiving enough oxygen. Fetal distress can happen when your pregnancy lasts too long or your labor is too rapid.
When fetal distress is detected during labor, it might be alleviated by giving you extra oxygen or increasing amounts of intravenous fluids. You might also be repositioned onto one side or the other and given analgesics.
If none of these methods work, fetal distress may affect a pregnancy because your unborn child may require an immediate delivery using a vacuum extractor, forceps, or C-section delivery, each of which comes with its own set of risks. Additionally, the stress of fetal distress might cause your unborn baby to breathe in amniotic fluid that contains some of their own meconium. When your baby inhales meconium, they might have difficulty breathing or may even stop breathing.
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Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
During your pregnancy, your body does much of the work for your baby. In fact, although your baby is nourished by your body throughout your pregnancy, he doesn’t truly eat or eliminate on his own until after he is born. Your baby’s first bowel movement after his birth is called meconium.
Meconium aspiration syndrome happens when this first bowel movement occurs early, makes its way into your amniotic fluid, and your baby breathes it in. Breathing in meconium can cause your unborn baby to show signs of fetal distress and lead to extra care after their birth to ensure they can breathe on their own and that their oxygen levels are good.
Risk factors that might lead to meconium aspiration syndrome include having your pregnancy last longer than usual, labor that lasts a long time, or having your baby’s supply of oxygen compromised during labor. If your newborn breathes in meconium, they might have blue-tinged skin, labored breathing, or limpness at birth.
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An Unexpected C-Section
A C-section is a surgical procedure used to deliver your baby through cuts in your stomach and uterus. Your pregnancy might conclude with an unexpected C-section if your doctor believes it will be safer for you or your baby than a vaginal delivery. Your doctor may elect to perform a C-section under the following conditions:
- Your labor takes too long
- Your baby is in an abnormal position for birth
- Your baby shows signs of fetal distress and requires an immediate delivery
- You are bleeding excessively
Your doctor and other members of your medical team will help you choose the safest method of delivery for you and your unborn child.
Experiencing a Vacuum Extraction
A vacuum extraction is a medical procedure sometimes performed during vaginal childbirth. The vacuum extractor is a soft or rigid cup with a handle and vacuum pump that will be attached to your unborn child’s head to help pull him through your birth canal while you push.
Vacuum extraction can pose certain risks to your child that include scalp wounds, an increased risk of having your baby’s shoulder become stuck after their head is delivered, skull fractures, or bleeding inside their skull.
Your doctor might recommend vacuum extraction to assist you during the pushing stage of labor when your labor is prolonged or not progressing. Vacuum extraction might also be recommended when there appears to be a problem with your baby’s heartbeat or when you have a health concern.
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When Forceps Are Used to Deliver Your Baby
A forceps delivery is a form of assisted delivery that is sometimes needed during vaginal childbirth. Forceps are large and shaped like salad tongs or a pair of spoons. They are used to draw your baby out of your birth canal as you simultaneously push.
A forceps delivery can pose a risk of injury for you and for your baby. Possible risks to your child include slight facial injuries caused by the pressure of the forceps, temporary facial palsy, and minor eye trouble.
Your doctor may decide to use forceps to complete the delivery of your unborn child if you have a health issue, your efforts at pushing do not cause your labor to progress, or your baby’s heartbeat suggests a problem during monitoring.
Get the Legal Help Your Child Deserves
When fetal distress affects a pregnancy, it can leave you and your unborn child with serious complications. If your child suffered from fetal distress, you might have the foundation of a birth injury lawsuit. Fetal distress may affect a pregnancy in conjunction with ways that result in birth injuries.
If you believe the ways fetal distress affected your pregnancy caused damage or harm to your child, speak with an attorney near you as soon as possible. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to connect with a lawyer in your area today.