What Are The Signs Of Fetal Distress?


While most pregnancies are uneventful and do not have complications, some mothers will experience complications that could potentially harm their babies without prompt medical intervention. Fetal distress is a type of complication that occurs when the fetus does not receive enough oxygen during pregnancy or childbirth. While it can occur before a mother goes into labor, it most commonly occurs during the delivery process. If the labor and delivery staff members do not properly monitor the fetus and mother, the baby could suffer permanent disabilities or die. Medical providers must monitor the fetus during every stage of pregnancy to identify and immediately address any complications, including fetal distress. If your baby’s fetal distress was not detected, resulting in harm, you should talk to an injury lawyer in Philadelphia at Raynes & Lawn. Here’s some information you should know about fetal distress.

Signs And Symptoms Of Fetal Distress

Some of the signs of fetal distress include the following:

  • Tachycardia or heart rate of more than 110 beats per minute (bpm)
  • Bradycardia or slow heart rate of less than 60 bpm
  • Sudden increases or decreases in the fetal heart rate
  • Gradual decelerations of the fetal heart rate following contractions
  • Presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid


The following symptoms can lead to fetal distress:

  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Severe back pain/intense cramping
  • Vaginal bleeding when pregnant
  • Rapid maternal weight gain of greater than 40 pounds
  • Breathing or movement abnormalities on an ultrasound
  • Abnormal levels of amniotic fluid

Doctors should monitor mothers and fetuses throughout pregnancies and should take steps to immediately address potential fetal distress when any of its signs are present.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Fetal Distress

During labor, the infant should be constantly monitored to track his or her heart rate. Amniotic fluid that is brownish or greenish is also a sign the baby could be experiencing fetal distress since these colors indicate the presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid. The baby’s fetal heart rate should be electronically monitored during labor. The doctor should monitor the baby’s heart rate patterns to make sure the infant is receiving enough oxygen. Fetal distress is also identified by how a baby responds to the mother’s labor contractions.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Fetal Distress

When fetal distress is identified, the following treatments might be used:

  • Repositioning the mother
  • Ensuring the mother has enough hydration
  • Ensuring the mother has enough oxygen
  • Amnioinfusion to alleviate any umbilical cord compression
  • Temporarily halting contractions to delay early labor
  • Injecting hypertonic dextrose
  • Assisted delivery with vacuum extractors or forceps

In some cases, an emergency cesarean section will be necessary.


Long-Term Consequences Of Fetal Disress

If fetal distress is not detected, the baby may suffer lifelong medical issues. Some of the types of conditions that can be caused by untreated fetal distress include the following:


Some of the symptoms of fetal distress-related disabilities in newborns include the following:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Eating difficulties
  • Failing to meet developmental milestones
  • Floppy legs and arms/lack of muscle tone
  • Muscle spasms
  • Lack of alertness
  • Preferring one side of the body

If you see any of these signs, you should speak to your baby’s pediatrician to obtain a proper diagnosis.

How A Birth Injury Lawyer In Philadelphia Can Help

If your baby suffered a birth injury because of untreated fetal distress caused by improper monitoring, you should speak to an injury lawyer in Philadelphia at Raynes & Lawn. Our attorneys can review the medical records with the help of a medical expert to identify whether malpractice might have occurred. Birth injury cases are complex and require the help of medical experts who understand the expected standard of care for other doctors and can identify if a doctor’s care failed to meet the standard of care and caused your baby’s injuries. Our lawyers can draft and file a civil complaint against the negligent parties that caused your baby’s injuries and work to recover full compensation for your losses and those of your child.

Lifelong disabilities caused by improper monitoring of fetal distress can be emotionally and financially devastating for families. A birth injury lawsuit might help you to recover compensation for your losses while also holding those who were responsible for your baby’s injuries accountable for their actions. We have more than 50 years of experience fighting for the rights of negligence victims and understand how to build strong cases on behalf of our clients. To learn more about your rights and legal options, schedule a free consultation today by calling us at 1-800-535-1797.


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