What is fetal distress?

Put simply, fetal distress occurs when a baby becomes unwell or experiences abnormal problems within the uterus. It can happen during the term of the pregnancy or during labor itself. In many cases, fetus distress is caused by lack of oxygen, which may be the result of a prolapsed umbilical cord or other causes. 

It can also sometimes occur because of problems with the placenta, an unusually lengthy or prolonged labor, problems with the mother’s blood supply and other factors. If a doctor does not respond to such conditions appropriately and it leads to injuries, Cleveland patients may work with a birth injury lawyer in Ohio to pursue compensation for their damages.

What are signs of fetal distress? 

There are numerous signs that could indicate fetus distress. These can typically be recognized through careful monitoring of the baby’s heart rate and behavior during labor.

Some possible signs of fetal distress include: 

  • decreased movement of the baby or the baby stops moving altogether;
  • the baby’s heart rate significantly decreases or increases;
  • meconium (feces) is found in the amniotic fluid when the mother’s water breaks; and
  • there is vaginal bleeding which could indicate an issue with the placenta. 

If any of these signs are recognized, doctors should act appropriately to determine the cause of the symptoms, treat the symptoms if necessary, alleviate the baby’s stress and/or deliver the baby. Failure to properly respond could lead patients to consult Cleveland birth injury lawyers about an Ohio malpractice claim. 

Responding to Fetal Distress 

The response to these signs can vary depending on the circumstances. For example, meconium may not be a major concern in some cases, such as if the pregnancy is post-term.

Among the possible responses to fetal distress are to induce labor or perform an emergency C-section. Doctors may also deliver oxygen to the mother through a face mask or increase fluid intake using an IV drip.

When signs of fetal distress are recognized, it’s crucial that attending physicians respond immediately. Failure to do so could result in dangerous and life-threatening injuries to both the mother and child. It can even lead to stillbirth or death. Cleveland birth injury lawyers can help Ohio patients dealing with these issues. 

What are risks of fetal distress? 

If the mother or child suffers from certain conditions, it could increase the risk of fetus distress.

Some factors that may increase risk of fetus distress include: 

  • the mother suffers from diabetes;
  • the mother is overweight or obese;
  • the baby is very small;
  • the pregnancy is past-term;
  • the mother has high blood pressure;
  • the pregnancy involves twins or multiples; and
  • the mother is 35 or older.

If any of these risks are present, pregnant women should always discuss the possibility of fetal distress or other complications with their doctor and establish a plan of action should fetus distress arise. 

Cleveland Birth Injury Lawyers Can Help Ohio Victims of Malpractice 

If responses to fetal distress were delayed or inadequate, parents could have grounds for a legal claim against the doctor. In such cases, a Cleveland birth injury lawyer can help pursue an Ohio malpractice claim. An attorney can work with a medical expert who can provide testimony regarding whether fetal distress was properly handled.