When a woman gives birth in a hospital, it is common for her to be placed on a fetal monitor. This allows her nurse to evaluate the well-being of her baby during labor. The contractions that occur during labor cause a temporary reduction in oxygen and blood flow to baby. Most of the time, a baby will tolerate this temporary event without difficulty. The fetal monitor allows the labor and delivery nurses, physicians, and midwives to get an overall picture of a baby’s response to the contractions that occur during labor, however, they must interpret the fetal heart pattern.
When a baby’s heart rate down below the baseline (the rate of the heart rate over a period of time), it is called a deceleration. It is common for baby’s heartrate to fluctuate during labor. The timing of a deceleration provides a picture of how baby is handling the contractions that occur during labor. For example, when baby moves farther down in the birth canal, his head presses against mom’s cervix during a contraction, causing a temporary drop in the heart rate. This is called an early deceleration. Early decelerations are considered to be a baby’s normal response to labor. However, the nurse caring for the mother must be able to interpret the fetal heart rate pattern correctly. A late deceleration is another fluctuation in baby’s heart beat that can occur. This type of deceleration is a sign that baby is not receiving enough oxygen and blood supply from the placenta. Late decelerations can occur for different reasons. Often times, changing mom’s position, giving extra fluids through her IV, or turning off the Pitocin (a drug given to a mother through her IV to cause contractions) will correct the issue.
The fetal monitor also displays the fetal heart rate variability, which is another sign of the overall well-being of a baby before she is born. The fetal heart should display fluctuations in the rate, with the heart rate increasing when baby is moving. If the heart rate pattern displays more of a flat line, it should be recognized by the medical personnel and steps to correct it should be taken. Many times, giving mom extra fluids through her IV, or changing her position will correct this.
In order for the fetal monitor to be effective, a baby’s heart rate pattern must be interpreted correctly by the medical personnel caring for the mother. Labor and delivery nurses, physicians, and midwives must be trained to recognize and respond to what they see on the fetal monitor. Unfortunately, this does not always occur, and the end result may be permanent injury to baby caused by oxygen deprivation over a period of time. Scenarios such as this are oftentimes uncovered when a baby’s parents consult an attorney that specialized in birth injury.
our healthcare provider should guide you through your pregnancy, and through the childbirth process. If you, your loved one, or your child sustained an injury because of the negligence of your doctor, you may be entitled to compensation. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced birth injury attorney in Ohio or Kentucky, please call Crandall & Pera Law at 877-955-0020 or fill out our contact form.