What Are the Symptoms of Fetal Distress?

Fetal distress is an abnormal condition in a fetus and is seen during labor. Severe stress can also lead to fetal distress, and because of this, doctors monitor the baby’s heart rate during labor. All mothers should be aware of the various signs of fetal distress.

Causes of Fetal Distress

This can be caused by various reasons. They include:

  • Abnormal fetal presentation and position
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Multiple pregnancy, such as twins or triplets
  • Uterine infection
  • Rupture of the uterus
  • Placental abruption
  • Umbilical cord forms a loop around the baby’s neck


The baby is healthy in utero and responds to various stimuli. When the following symptoms are seen, it indicates that the condition of the fetus is not good. The signs and symptoms of fetal distress include:

  • If the baby passes meconium (the first stool) in the uterus
  • If there is a sudden stop in the movement of the fetus or a change in the pattern of movement
  • Abnormal positioning of the baby, which can lead to oxygen deprivation
  • The heartbeat of the baby drops below 120 beats per minute
  • Unstable or irregular heart beat

Fetal Distress Signals

The symptoms of fetal distress are seen in during labor. Mothers need to be alert and aware of the fetal distress signals. A mother’s body is made in a marvelous way, and the signs of distress can be detected by the mother. Call your doctor immediately if you observe the following changes. They include:

Absence of Fetal Movement:

As your baby grows, it will move during a particular time of the day. You know when your baby is active and remember, for example, 12 kicks in the day or 10 kicks in the night. If on a specific day the movement of the baby is reduced, then call your doctor immediately.

Spotting or Bleeding From the Vagina:

If you experience spotting or bleeding from the vagina, this can be a sign of miscarriage. Consult your doctor immediately if bleeding is seen.


Pains or cramps with bleeding can be one of the signs for miscarriage or fetal distress.

Weight Gain:

If there is not proper weight gain during pregnancy, then this can be a sign that the fetus is not getting sufficient nutrients. If you are overweight, then this may be an indication that you are suffering from diabetes or the fetus is growing too big, which can cause difficulty during labor.

Premature Labor:

If there is an early rupture of the membranes, then there can be fetal distress symptoms. If you experience your water breaking before the due date, then consult your doctor immediately.

These are some of the symptoms of fetal distress that every mother should be aware of. You should take all the necessary measures for a safe pregnancy and delivery. Keep in mind the signs and symptoms of fetal distress and consult your doctor if you see any problem.

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