Fetal distress is a term in common usage. It may, therefore, surprise many that, even experts in the field don’t agree on the exact meaning of the term.
In essence, fetal distress refers to a state where insufficient oxygen is reaching the fetus. If oxygen deficiency is severe and prolonged, permanent damage to the baby could result. It is, therefore, the norm, to err on the side of caution.
Causes of fetal distress before labor
There are several potential causes.
Fetal distress is commonly a feature of established labor but could occur before labor onset. This is uncommon.
Placental abruption which is a condition where the placenta. (afterbirth) detaches from its base partially or wholly, is one of the more common causes of pre-
Vigorous fetal activity sometimes leads to a cord accident, which may be in the form of a knot or entanglement of the cord around a limb. This could lead to partial occlusion of the vessels in the cord, leading to distress.
Vasa previa is usually undiagnosed before labor and will cause sudden bleeding and acute fetal distress in labor.
Sometimes the cause of fetal distress remains unestablished even after the baby is born.
Causes of fetal distress during labor
Any activity that reduces the blood supply to the fetus will cause fetal distress.
If the cord is compressed, either as a result of being around a fetal limb, neck, trunk or simply by being compressed by the fetal head against the pelvic side-
Correction to this can occur spontaneously as a result of fetal movement or the cord sliding away from the pressure point, hence relieving the compression. Sometimes this does not occur and a rescue procedure needs to be carried out.
stimulation of the womb and fetal distress
Overcoming uterine hyper-
If the hyper-
Tocolytic drugs work by relaxing the muscles of the womb to negate the effect of sustained strong contractions.