What is Foetal Distress?

If there is any discomfort to the foetus before delivery or after birth, it is called foetal distress.

Written by: Aditi Dasgupta Updated at: 2013-01-24 12:09

The baby before being born is called a fetus. According to medical practitioners, if the fetus seems to show any discomfort inside the womb or right after child birth, the situation is called fetal distress. Although, such cases are very unlikely to happen, some women do experience fetal distress during their birthing process.


[Read: How Protected is Baby in the Womb]


This happens because of the following reasons:

  • The baby’s size is smaller than the average size of the foetus.
  • The woman is having a delayed pregnancy. In such cases, the foetus often tries to force itself out of the abdomen causing pain and anxiety in the uterine cavity.
  • Lack of oxygen supply in the umbilical cord.
  • Frequent contractions.
  • The mother is over 30 years of age.
  • The mother is suffering from blood sugar or blood pressure.
  • Fetal distress is most likely to occur in case of a twin pregnancy.

To avoid fetal distress or cut down on the chances of it happening to you, you must avoid alcohol and nicotine consumption at least two months before pregnancy. Furthermore, eating health food instead of processed food is the best way to keep fetal distress at bay. A regular visit to the doctor and periodical checkups can also help the doctors decide on taking any preventive measures if they see any stress developing inside the womb.


[Read: How to Keep a Baby Healthy in the Womb]

How can you detect it?


If you are on your own and sense some hyperactivity being felt inside the womb, you must rush to the doctor. The baby kicks more often or changes sides inside the womb, if it is under any kind of distress. At times, women cannot sense it. Therefore, your midwife or nurse, who is handling your case, can detect it more easily.

  • If you detect your baby’s stool flowing in your urine, it is a signal that your fetus is in distress and your water has already broken. It is, usually, brown or green in colour.
  • If your midwife senses a fast heart beat of the foetus for a long period of time, you are suffering from fetal distress. In such a case, equipment is placed on your belly and the process is similar to an ultrasound.
  • To confirm fetal distress, a tiny blood sample is taken from the foetus’s scalp and is tested for oxygen levels. This is one of the most trusted ways of confirming a case of fetal distress.

Precautionary measures: doctor gives extra oxygen supply to the mother with the help of a mask and increases the levels of fluid in the body by giving occasional drips. Furthermore, the doctor will advise you to sleep more on the left hand’s side to diminish the pressure that the uterus feels in an otherwise position.


[Read: Antenatal Care and Safe Delivery]


If you are still anxious about your baby’s health, seek help from your gynecologist immediately. Every body-type is different and it is always better to seek personalised help from the doctor. Relax! Fetal distress is something beyond your immediate control. Your anxiety might just add to the overall health of your baby.


Read more articles on Childbirth (Delivery)



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