Signs of Fetal Distress and Ways to treat it

Fetal distress occurs when the unborn baby’s oxygen supply is compromised in utero. This makes pregnancy check-ups very important because the doctor can notice any signs if the baby is unwell. Usually, signs of distress may appear during the third trimester of pregnancy or during labor.  Here are few signs of fetal distress and ways to treat it.


Fetal distress is relatively rare and happens in 25 out of 100 births. Some of the causes include:

  • Maternal illness
  • Fetal infection
  • Umbilical cord compression
  • Placental abruption

All of the above factors lead to decreased fetal heart rate due to oxygen deprivation. This could be a serious complication for the baby. The risk of fetal distress increases if the mother is already suffering from conditions such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, intrauterine growth restriction, or hydramnios.

Once the labor starts, the baby will be monitored for signs of distress. Here are some ways to tell if your baby is in distress:

  1. Less Kicking

Doctors often ask you to count your baby’s kicking during pregnancy. Monitoring it is the best way to see if your baby is well. There is no certain number of movements your baby should have, but you will know the normal number of movements your baby specifically has. As you approach your due-date, you will feel a change in your baby’s movements as he will have less room to move in your womb. But if the movements appear less often than usual, it may be an indicator of fetal distress. Get the doctor to arrange an ultrasound scan if you feel something amiss.


  1. More than normal Bleeding

Small amounts of bleeding is normal during pregnancy. However, if you experience larger amount of bleeding, it may mean that something is wrong with the pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding may point to other major problems such as placenta previa, placental abruption, or vasa previa. If this happens, call the doctor immediately as it puts your baby at risk if left untreated.


  1. High Blood Pressure

Many women with hypertension do not encounter serious complications during pregnancy and can deliver healthy babies. However, if your blood pressure is higher than usual, it may be a concern. There are chances that hypertension during pregnancy may turn into pre-eclampsia. It may mean oxygen deprivation, limited blood supply for the fetus and placental problems. This can lead to fetal distress. Your doctor will monitor you continuously and do everything possible to maintain your normal blood pressure.


  1. Cramping with Back Pain

Cramping is fairly normal during pregnancy. However, if you feel intense cramping along with back pain, it may be a more serious complication. These two symptoms could indicate placental abruption and cause fetal distress. Your doctor may perform tests to ensure you and your baby are healthy.


Apart from these, other factors such as change in fetal heart rate, intrauterine growth restrictions, change in amniotic fluid levels or excessive weight gain may also lead to fetal distress.

Some of the ways to reduce fetal distress include:

  • Changing your sleeping position
  • Keeping yourself well-hydrated
  • Eating healthy
  • Using oxygen mask during birth process

Your doctor might be the best judge to decide on the course of action to take, should you and your baby experience fetal distress. Most of the time, the best option is for the baby to be born as soon as possible – even if it means having a C-section. So have faith in your doctor’s ability to help you and your baby through distress. If you need to know more about fetal distress, see our doctors at KIMS Cuddles.


*Information shared here is for general purpose Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.

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