5 Important Signs of Fetal Distress Parents Should Watch out For

Pregnancy is a happy time for most families. It brings joy and new life. However, some challenges come with it, such as fetal distress. You will probably look for signs in your baby’s behavior to help you decide if something is wrong. Fetal distress is a severe medical condition that can risk the mother’s and fetus’s lives. It can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth. Parents should watch out for crucial signs of fetal distress during pregnancy.

1.   Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate

If you notice that your unborn baby’s heartbeat is irregular or weak, it can be a sign of distress. The baby’s heart rate will typically increase as the pregnancy progresses and stay stable until birth. If it does not increase with age or is abnormally low or high during the last trimester, this could be a sign of distress for the fetus.

A sudden change in fetal heart rate is a common sign of fetal distress. A drop in fetal heart rate can result from labor, infection, or other problems that may be causing the fetus to gasp for air. It’s crucial to watch their heart rate closely during pregnancy to recognize symptoms of fetal distress and make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Understanding the common causes of fetal distress, such as prolonged labor, is crucial to taking care of your unborn baby and navigating the pregnancy journey successfully.

2.   Abnormally Low or High Amniotic Fluid Level

Amniotic fluid is a clear liquid that surrounds the fetus during pregnancy and helps cushion them during delivery. The amount of amniotic fluid in a woman’s body affects how well she can carry her baby and how long it will stay in her uterus. An ultrasound can help determine the level of amniotic fluid.

A low or high level of amniotic fluid can cause various problems for the baby. Low amniotic fluid levels can cause a lack of oxygen to the fetus and labor to begin earlier than usual. However, this doesn’t mean it will induce maternal labor soon because it could signal an infection in the uterus or cervix. It’s, therefore, crucial to consult with your doctor for any signs of fetal distress so that they can respond accordingly to any signs of fetal distress.

3.   Vaginal Bleeding

While small amounts of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy may be familiar, excessive vaginal bleeding is one of the first signs of fetal distress, which may indicate that the baby is experiencing pain. It can signify uterine contractions from hormonal changes associated with pregnancy or fetal stress caused by uterine contractions.

It’s important to note that vaginal bleeding is not necessarily a sign of miscarriage but rather a possible indication of an infection or other medical condition. However, it’s crucial to seek medical attention so your doctor can evaluate any signs of distress in your unborn baby.

4.   Decrease in Fetal Movement

A decrease in fetal movement can be another sign of fetal distress. When your unborn child has fetal distress, it can change how your baby moves within the womb. You may notice fewer kicks per minute or that you’re seeing more than usual in a given period. That can help detect fetal distress early on in your pregnancy so that your doctor can take action quickly to help you and your distressed unborn baby.

A pregnant mother may experience wiggling, kicking, and moving more than usual, which is typical for her body to do as it adjusts to carrying a baby. However, some women experience more severe fetal movement decreases when their babies face congenital disabilities or other health problems. If your baby isn’t moving as much as usual, talk with your doctor about it immediately.

5.   High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is one of the most common pregnancy complications. It can signify fetal distress, but it’s also a serious condition that requires treatment. High blood pressure in pregnancy can lead to pre-eclampsia and other complications. High blood pressure can damage the fetus, a common cause of stillbirth.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women with high blood pressure get regular checkups during pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking and alcohol intake, losing weight if necessary, and taking medication as prescribed.


As a parent, you want nothing but the best for your child. If you suspect something is wrong with them, it’s crucial to seek professional help from a qualified doctor. The most important thing when it comes to your baby is early detection. Luckily, parents can watch out for signs of fetal distress during pregnancy. Parents must learn to recognize these symptoms to get help immediately and ensure their babies are doing okay. Following doctor’s appointments and taking note of any changes in your body can help doctors to detect early signs of fetal distress so that they can act on them immediately. However, if your situation worsens due to the negligence of a health professional or medical malpractice, you can talk to an experienced lawyer for legal assistance.

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