Fetal distress - Symptoms, causes and treatment – ​​Alodokter

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 reduced fetal movement.

A fetus experiencing fetal distress can be detected by a doctor through an examination of 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 perform routine pregnancy check-ups with an obstetrician. That way, the health of the fetus can be monitored properly.

The characteristics of a healthy fetus include:

  • Active fetal movement in the uterus.
  • Normal and healthy growth and development of fetal organs.
  • The heart beats regularly.
  • Changes in the position of the fetus before birth.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)

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 reduced drastically

Fetal movement can be reduced before delivery because the space in the uterus is reduced. However, normal fetal movements can still be felt and have 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 content 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. If the size of the uterus is too small for gestational age, it can indicate fetal distress.

Diagnosis of fetal distress

The diagnosis of fetal distress can be confirmed by examining pregnant women by an obstetrician, either before or after the baby is born. The following are the examinations carried out and the signs found when the fetus is experiencing: fetal distress:

  • Ultrasound pregnancy, can see if the growth of the fetus in accordance with the age of the womb.
  • Doppler ultrasound, to detect disturbances in the blood flow and heart of the fetus.
  • Cardiotocography (CTG), to continuously see the fetal heart rate against fetal movement and uterine contractions.
  • Examination of the amniotic fluid, to determine the volume of amniotic fluid and see the presence of meconium or fetal feces in the amniotic fluid.

Taking a sample of the baby's blood, to check the pH of the baby's blood which turns more acidic when the fetus doesn't get enough oxygen.

When to go to the doctor

Immediately do an examination to the obstetrician if you feel the movement of the fetus 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 for prenatal check-ups:

  • Before the 28th week, the examination was carried out once a month.
  • At weeks 28-35, examinations are carried out every two weeks.
  • At week 36 onwards, examinations are carried out every week.

Checks need to be done more often if you have certain health conditions or have experienced complications in previous pregnancies.

Causes of Fetal Distress (Fetal Distress)

Fetal distress can be caused by various things, such as pregnancy conditions and maternal health. The following are some disorders that can cause fetal distress, including:

  • Disorders of the placenta or placenta, can cause the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus is reduced.
  • The contractions are too fast and strong.
  • The gestation period is more than 42 weeks.
  • Pregnant women over the age of 35 years.
  • Twin pregnancy.
  • Have pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios, and hypertension in pregnancy.
  • Mother has anemia, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, or hypothyroidism.

Fetal Distress Treatment (Fetal Emergency)

If the fetus is diagnosed with fetal distress, the doctor needs to treat it as soon as possible. These treatments include:

Resuscitation in utero

In utero resuscitation is performed as the mainstay of treatment for fetal distress. During this procedure, the doctor will:

  • Ensure that the mother gets an adequate supply of oxygen by placing an oxygen tube on the mother.
  • Ensure adequate maternal fluid intake by giving fluids intravenously.
  • Positioning the mother lying on her left side to reduce the pressure of the uterus on the large veins that can reduce blood flow to the placenta and fetus.
  • Temporarily stop taking medicines that can increase contractions, such as the drug oxytocin.
  • Tocolysis, which is therapy to stop uterine contractions temporarily.
  • Amnioinfusion, namely the addition of fluid in the amniotic fluid cavity to reduce the pressure on the umbilical cord.

Immediate delivery

Immediate delivery may be an option if resuscitation in utero cannot treat fetal distress. Delivery should be attempted within 30 minutes after the detection of fetal distress.

Birth can be attempted through the vagina with the help of a vacuum or forceps on the baby's head. If this is not possible, then 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 it is seen that the baby has meconium aspiration or amniotic poisoning, the doctor needs to clear the baby's airway so that his breathing is not disturbed.

Complications of Fetal Distress (Fetal Emergency)

Reduced oxygen flow to the fetus can cause stunted fetal growth, resulting in low birth weight. In addition, if the lack of oxygen experienced by the fetus is very severe, it can cause the fetus to die in the womb.stillbirth).

Prevention of Fetal Distress (Fetal Emergency)

Fetal distress is a condition that is difficult to prevent. However, regular prenatal check-ups can help monitor the health of the mother and fetus during pregnancy. The examination aims to monitor the condition of the fetus, detect disorders early on, and the possibility of complications.