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Fetal Distress

In simple terms, fetal distress is a sign that your baby is not well or having problems. Fetal distress occurs when the baby is not getting enough oxygen. Fetal distress can sometimes happen during pregnancy, but it is more common during labor. Most healthcare providers have replaced the term fetal distress with non-reassuring fetal status (NRFS), but we will use fetal distress in this article.

Causes of Fetal Distress
Fetal distress occurs when the baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen because of problems with the placenta (e.g., placental abruption or placental insufficiency) or problems with the umbilical cord (e.g., cord prolapse).

Fetal distress is more common if the mother:
• Is past her due date
• Has a multiple pregnancy
• Has pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia
• Has contractions that are too strong or too close together
• Is obese
• Has a chronic disease such as diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease
Signs of Fetal Distress

The most common signs of fetal distress are:
• Changes in the baby’s heart rate (lower or higher than normal)
• Less movement from the baby for an extended period of time
• Low amniotic fluid, or meconium in the amniotic fluid
• Excessive bleeding during labor

Detecting and Addressing Fetal Distress
Health care professionals trained in obstetrics and labor and delivery should recognize the signs of fetal distress during late pregnancy and childbirth and take quick action to manage it and prevent harm. Often a Caesarian may be necessary. Failure to act in a timely manner can sadly lead to brain damage and possibly death of the baby. The damages could be in the tens of millions of dollars in the worst case scenario.

What to Do If Your Baby Has Suffered
Doctors and hospitals are expected to look for signs of problems with your pregnancy. Items like fetal monitoring strips exist to prevent otherwise healthy babies from suffering a catastrophic injury that could lead to a greatly diminished life and a lot of suffering for your family. When they screw up you may have a lawsuit.

If fetal distress led to a death or permanent disabilities, there is a possibility that your doctor, nurses, or the hospital or birthing center is at fault. At the very least, they should be investigated. We understand that this may be an emotional time, but time is often of the essence. We can investigate what happened and hold those responsible accountable if they were negligent.

For a free consultation to speak with an experienced attorney, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.