Fetal distress can occur during the long process of labor, even if the pregnancy and baby are otherwise healthy. An infant expends a significant amount of energy during labor, and unusually long deliveries can be especially draining on fetal strength. An experienced, competent obstetric team will focus heavily on the well-being of the unborn baby, constantly monitoring the baby’s condition and identifying distress indicators when they arise. In many instances, distress will be most apparent during the pressures and force of contractions.
When signs of distress are identified quickly, the most appropriate methods of treatment can be effectively implemented. In some cases, a caesarean section is the best course of action, while other times the use of forceps in a vaginal delivery is best. The appropriate decision can prevent serious injury or death.
There are multiple methods for identifying fetal distress. With the use of a Pinard stethoscope or a CTG monitoring machine, the medical team can detect an irregular fetal heartbeat. If, for example, the heart slows down during contractions but takes too long to recover (bradycardia), it may indicate that the baby is receiving insufficient oxygen. Another sign of distress is meconium, which occurs when the baby opens its bowels in the womb. If these indicators are not identified and quickly addressed, fetal distress can result in serious injury and even death.
If distress is identified, a neonatal or pediatric team may be called in to assist with the labor and delivery. The speed and accuracy of response from skilled doctors can save the baby’s life and make a significant difference in the recovery process. Once the baby is delivered, signs of distress should be obvious to the medical team. The infant may appear weak, with pale skin coloring, and other apparent issues. The APGAR test is used by medical professionals to assess a baby’s condition following delivery, and it is given at one, five, and 10 minute intervals after birth. A low APGAR score may indicate the infant suffered distress during the labor and delivery process, and blood tests may be used to further assess the baby’s condition after delivery.
Serious fetal distress cases may require ventilation and resuscitation measures. Babies in this condition typically require high-level care by neonatal specialists. Most babies that suffer fetal distress will make a full recovery; however, there are exceptions. Occasionally, these infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy or other birth injury-related conditions, and in extreme cases, babies may die. If it can be shown that early intervention or alternative delivery methods could have prevented the injury or death, families may be entitled to compensation due to medical malpractice.
If you or your child has suffered as a result of a birth injury, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately. If it can be shown that medical staff did not take the appropriate steps to prevent the injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other associated costs. At Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, our medical malpractice attorneys understand the unique challenges of birth injury cases, including the emotional complexities and ongoing financial burdens. Our compassionate legal team is here to help you through this difficult experience so that you can concentrate on your family. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today for a free consultation.