While you are in labor, your OBGYN, midwife, or other members of your medical team will measure your baby’s heart rate. If fetal distress is detected, it will be through testing that measured an abnormal heart rate pattern in your unborn baby.
Fetal heart rate monitoring is used to measure the heart rate and rhythm of your unborn child and to let your doctor assess how your baby is doing. Changes to your baby’s fetal heart rate could indicate that they are not getting enough oxygen. Fetal heart rate monitoring can be either internal or external.
The external monitoring method uses a Doppler ultrasound device to listen to and record your baby’s heartbeat through your abdomen. Your doctor may use a monitor during your prenatal visits and during your labor. The device is fastened to your abdomen and transmits the sounds of your baby’s heartbeat to a computer where it is shown on a screen and printed on paper.
The internal monitoring method uses a thin electrode fastened to your baby’s scalp, run through your cervix, and connected to a fetal monitor. Internal monitoring gives better readings than external monitoring because factors like movement do not affect it. It can only be used if your water has broken and your cervix is dilated.
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Treatments for Fetal Distress
Once fetal distress is detected, your medical team may attempt to correct it in one of the following ways:
- By giving you extra oxygen
- By increasing your intravenous fluids
- By turning you onto one side and giving your analgesics
- By discontinuing medication received to stimulate contractions
- By giving you medication to stall or stop contractions if you were not given medication to stimulate contractions
If none of these measures to alleviate fetal distress or to control your contractions are effective, doctors may choose to deliver your baby quickly using vacuum extraction, forceps, or a C-section.
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Types of Fetal Distress
Fetal distress is a serious concern that can cause you to feel anxious about the health and safety of your unborn child. There are basically three different types of fetal distress your baby might endure:
- Your baby’s heart rate remains unchanged even when stimulated at the beginning of labor
- Your baby’s heart rate suddenly accelerates during labor
- Your baby’s heart rate suddenly drops, primarily due to some trauma
If your doctor believes your baby is experiencing fetal distress, they should order other tests to confirm the condition like a fetal scalp sampling.
Understanding the Three Stages of Labor
Labor consists of the rhythmic and progressive contractions that move your unborn baby into the lower part of your uterus and birth canal and outside into the world. Labor typically occurs in the following three stages:
- First stage: This stage of your labor has two phases—early and active. The contractions you experience during the first stage of labor cause your cervix to gradually dilate and thin out until it merges with the rest of your uterus. These changes enable your unborn baby to move into your vagina.
- Second stage: This stage of your labor lasts from the complete dilation or opening of your cervix until the delivery of your baby. In first pregnancies, it can take as many as two hours. In subsequent pregnancies, it typically takes an hour or so. This stage might last longer if you were given an epidural injection or medication to relieve your pain. During this stage, you will continue to push, and your baby will be delivered.
- Third stage: This stage of your labor lasts from the delivery of your baby to the delivery of your placenta. This stage of labor typically lasts from several minutes to approximately a half hour.
Labor typically lasts between twelve and eighteen hours in a first pregnancy and as few as eight hours in subsequent pregnancies. Beginning shortly after you are admitted to the hospital, your baby’s heartbeat will be continuously monitored.
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You Might Be Entitled to Financial Compensation
When your unborn child appears to be in trouble, you can also feel powerless and afraid. When fetal distress is detected during your labor and delivery, you are left with feelings of anxiety and stress. Labor and delivery are arduous enough without this added complication.
Following the delivery of your baby, you might be able to file a lawsuit to recover the cost of your child’s ongoing medical care. For a free case review, contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 to connect with a lawyer in your area. Your attorney will fight for your rights and for the rights of your newborn child.