Fetal Distress During Labor: Risks, Warning Signs, and Medical Malpractice

BIKLaw Medical Malpractice Lawyer > Birth Injury > Fetal Distress During Labor: Risks, Warning Signs, and Medical Malpractice

Giving birth is a beautiful time in a family’s life. However, this exciting milestone can turn into tragedy with a negligent medical provider. Complications that threaten both the health of the mother and the newborn can develop quickly, and it takes swift action from your medical team to address them successfully.

One such complication is fetal distress during labor. Take a closer look at what this condition involves in California.

What Is Fetal Distress?

Fetal distress is a general term that is used to describe a condition in which your child’s vital signs during pregnancy and delivery suggest that your child is not doing well.

Some of the initial signs that suggest your baby is experiencing fetal distress include changes in their movement or their heart rate.

If your fetus’s movements have decreased, your medical team may note that and may determine that intervention needs to be made. This can be a sign of fetal distress and that your child is not getting sufficient oxygen through your breathing alone.

If your baby’s heart rate is either faster or slower than normal for your child, this could also be a sign of distress and may warrant an investigation or an intervention.

Risk Factors That Can Lead to Fetal Distress

Although fetal distress can develop in any pregnancy or delivery, certain conditions can make it more likely to occur. These circumstances include the following:

  • You are 41 weeks or more into your pregnancy
  • Your fetus is abnormally small or too large
  • Contractions are occurring too frequently
  • You are pregnant with identical twins
  • You have a health condition like kidney disease, heart disease, or diabetes

Your medical provider should note these risk factors and share them with your medical team. This should cause your medical providers to exercise extra care as they monitor you and your fetus for signs of fetal distress.

How Fetal Distress Is Detected and Treated

Your baby’s heartbeat should be regularly monitored during labor and delivery. This monitoring is usually accomplished with the help of either a heart rate monitor that you wear around your belly or a small, handheld device. One or both monitors can alert your delivery team that your baby’s heart rate has deviated from normal.

Once your medical team determines your child is in fetal distress, one of the first courses of action should be to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to you and your fetus. There are several actions your team may take to accomplish this, including:

  • Giving you supplemental oxygen through a mask
  • Helping you into a different position to increase the flow of oxygenated blood
  • Administering fluids through an IV
  • Providing you with medicine that can slow your contractions

These or other appropriate measures must be taken as quickly as possible after fetal distress is suspected. Because fetal distress involves the flow of oxygen being disrupted, even a delay of a few minutes can result in permanent brain damage to your fetus.

Fetal Distress and Medical Malpractice

No medical provider can guarantee that you will not experience fetal distress or another birth injury, nor can all instances of fetal distress be resolved without injury to you or your child. However, other instances of injuries related to fetal distress can be prevented if the medical professionals involved exercise reasonable care.

Negligent medical providers may fail to recognize fetal distress. Medical teams that do not adequately and regularly monitor your child’s heartbeat can be found to have committed malpractice, as can providers who recognize an abnormal heartbeat or other signs of birth injury but delay in taking action.

This is because a medical malpractice claim concerns the allegation that a medical provider rendered substandard care to you and your child.

Compensation for Birth Injuries

Not only must you show that the quality of care you received from your delivery team was less than the care you reasonably could have expected, but also that this deficient care led to you or your child sustaining some injury. If you can establish this connection, you could recover compensation to address:

  • Your past and future hospital bills and treatment costs
  • Wages you missed from work to recover or care for your child after the injury
  • Lost future earnings if you can’t return to work or must care for your injured child
  • Emotional distress and mental suffering
  • Because of the complexities involved in investigating and proving medical malpractice cases, you must get help from an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Contact a Seasoned Birth Injury Lawyer Today

If you or your newborn baby suffered an injury during pregnancy or delivery, you may have the right to pursue compensation. For legal advice you can trust, turn to The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. As both a lawyer and a board-certified physician, our California birth injury lawyer can provide unique insight into your case and fight tirelessly to protect your rights.

Schedule your consultation with us today.

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