Foetal distress

The term fetal distress refers to the presence of signs in a pregnant woman — before or during childbirth — that suggest that the fetus may not be well. One of the commonest indications for a caesarean is foetal distress where although a vaginal delivery is not imminent, the baby can no longer wait. One reason could be a prolonged pregnancy which does have certain risks for the baby and the mother.

Sometimes, a well-nourished or constitutionally large baby is too big for the birth canal. Or the baby may be so growth-restricted and fragile that he/she cannot withstand the rigours of a normal labour. Sometimes the baby is not optimally positioned. The commonest way in which the baby enters the birth canal is with its head well flexed such that its chin almost touches its chest. But in some cases, the baby may be sleeping in what is known as a transverse lie, a reclining position much like in an airline seat, or it may be in breech presentation, intending to arrive butt first.

Meconium aspiration – usually a sign of foetal distress – occurs after babies breathe in a mixture of meconium, or early faeces, and amniotic fluid around the time of delivery.

These positions may or may not permit a vaginal delivery and the future course of action is best left to the doctor judgement.Instead of referring to “foetal distress” current recommendations hold to look for more specific signs and symptoms, assess them, and take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation.

After inducing labour, your baby’s foetal heart rate is checked and monitored closely. If the baby shows any signs of distress like a racing heart rate, less oxygen supply through the umbilical cord or your contractions are coming in too fast due to inducing which can stress her out chances are you might have to go under the knife.

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