Table of contents:
- Causes of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)
- Fetal Distress Symptoms
- Diagnosis of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)
- Fetal Distress Treatment
- Fetal Distress Complications (Fetal Distress)
- Prevention of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)
Fetal distress or fetal distress is a condition that indicates that the fetus is deprived of oxygen during pregnancy or during delivery. This condition can be felt by pregnant women from the lack of fetal movement
Fetuses experiencing fetal distress can be detected by a doctor by checking for a faster or slower fetal heart rate, as well as cloudy amniotic fluid through a pregnancy ultrasound. Babies who experience fetal distress will also have an acidic blood pH.
One way that can be done to prevent fetal distress is to have a routine pregnancy check-up with a gynecologist. That way, the he alth of the fetus can be monitored properly.
The characteristics of a he althy fetus include:
- Active fetal movement in the womb
- Growth and development of normal and he althy fetal organs
- Heart beats regularly
- Changes in fetal position before birth
Causes of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)
Fetal distress can be caused by various things, both disturbances in pregnancy and he alth problems for the mother. Here are some conditions that can cause fetal distress:
- Disorders with the placenta or placenta, causing a reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus
- Contractions that are too fast and strong
- pregnancy more than 42 weeks
- Pregnant over the age of 35
- twin pregnancy
- Pregnancy complications, such as polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios, preeclampsia, and hypertension during pregnancy
- Anemia, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, or hypothyroidism in pregnant women
Fetal Distress Symptoms
Fetal distress can be identified through abnormal signs and symptoms felt by pregnant women before or during the delivery process. In addition to the symptoms felt by pregnant women, obstetricians can also detect fetal distress through several examinations.
Some of the signs and symptoms of fetal distress include:
Fetal movement is drastically reduced
Fetal movement can be reduced before delivery because the space in the uterus is reduced. However, the normal movement of the fetus is still felt and has the same pattern. Decreased or drastically altered fetal movements can be a sign of fetal distress.
Therefore, pregnant women are advised to get used to monitoring fetal movements to get to know the movement patterns and condition of the fetus.
The size of the womb is too small for gestational age
This measurement is called the measurement of the height of the top of the uterus (height of the uterine fundus), which is measured from the pubic bone to the top. The size of the womb that is considered too small for gestational age can indicate fetal distress.
When to see a doctor
Immediately check with the obstetrician if you feel the fetal movement is reduced. During pregnancy, pregnant women are recommended to carry out regular obstetrical examinations to monitor fetal growth and prevent abnormalities in the fetus.
The following is a recommended routine pregnancy check-up schedule:
- Before the 28th week, the examination is done once a month
- In weeks 28–35, checkups are done every 2 weeks
- In the 36th week onwards, checkups are carried out every week
Checkups need to be done more often if you have certain he alth conditions or have experienced complications in previous pregnancies.
Diagnosis of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)
The diagnosis of fetal distress can be confirmed through a pregnancy examination by an obstetrician, before or after the baby is born. The following are the examinations performed and the signs found when the fetus is in fetal distress:
- pregnancy ultrasound, to see if the growth of the fetus is in accordance with the gestational age
- Doppler ultrasound, to detect disturbances in the blood flow and fetal heart
- Cardiotocography (CTG), to see the response of the fetal heart rate to continuous fetal movement and uterine contractions
- Amniotic fluid examination, to determine the volume of amniotic fluid (amniotic fluid) and detect meconium or fetal feces in the amniotic fluid
- Examination of the baby's blood sample, to check whether the pH of the baby's blood has turned more acidic due to the fetus not getting enough oxygen
Fetal Distress Treatment
Fetus diagnosed with fetal distress should get treatment as soon as possible. The actions taken by the doctor include:
Resuscitation in utero
Intrauterine resuscitation is performed as the main treatment for fetal distress. During this procedure, the doctor will:
- Ensuring the mother gets an adequate supply of oxygen by giving oxygen
- Ensuring adequate maternal fluid intake by giving fluids via IV
- Positioning the mother to lie on her left side to reduce uterine pressure on large veins that can reduce blood flow to the placenta and fetus
- Temporarily stop taking drugs that can increase contractions, such as oxytocin
- Temporarily stop uterine contractions with tocolysis therapy
- Adding fluid to the amniotic fluid cavity to reduce umbilical cord pressure, through the amnioinfusion procedure
Immediate delivery can be an option if resuscitation in utero cannot overcome fetal distress. Delivery should be attempted within 30 minutes after fetal distress is recognized.
Birth can be attempted vaginally with the help of a vacuum or forceps on the baby's head. If this is not possible, the fetus must be delivered by caesarean section.
Monitoring the condition of the fetus
The baby's condition will be monitored closely for 1-2 hours after birth, and continued for the first 12 hours after birth. Monitoring carried out includes checking the general condition, chest movement, skin color, bones and muscles, body temperature, and the baby's heart rate.
If the baby is seen to have meconium aspiration or amniotic fluid poisoning, the doctor will clear the baby's airway so that his breathing is not disturbed.
Fetal Distress Complications (Fetal Distress)
Reduced oxygen flow to the fetus can cause fetal growth to be stunted. As a result, babies can be born with low birth weight. In addition, if the fetus is deprived of oxygen, it can die in the womb (stillbirth).
Prevention of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)
Fetal distress is a condition that is difficult to prevent. However, regular prenatal checkups can help monitor the he alth of the mother and fetus during pregnancy. This examination aims to monitor the condition of the fetus, as well as to detect early disturbances and possible complications.