Foetal distress

There are several possible reasons why the baby may become distressed during labour; these include:

  • A lack of oxygen: this is the most common cause of foetal distress; it usually occurs as a result of the contraction of the uterus cutting the supply of oxygen to the placenta.
  • Meconium (this is the baby’s stool, which may become lodged in the amniotic fluid and may subsequently cause problems)
  • Problems with the umbilical cord
  • Adverse reactions to medication
  • Long labour
  • Foetal abnormalities
  • The general stress of labour
  • Infection

Usually, foetal distress is identified by changes in the baby’s heart rate, which is monitored throughout labour. In some cases where the baby is distressed, doctors may advise a caesarean birth as this will mean the baby is delivered quickly.

Possible complications in childbirth:

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