While you probably cannot wait to welcome a new baby into your family, you are likely not looking forward to labor. After all, even though modern medicine gives doctors a variety of ways to minimize the discomfort of childbirth, labor is hardly ever painless.
During labor, your unborn baby may experience contraction stress. According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, this usually harmless type of stress happens when a baby’s heart rate drops during his or her mother’s contractions.
A potential danger
While contraction stress does not usually endanger the life of an unborn baby, a sharp fall in heart rate can be catastrophic. That is, if a baby’s heart rate decreases too much, the child may be vulnerable to brain damage, other injuries and even death. To prevent these, doctors must monitor a baby’s heart rate closely during labor.
Some testing options
Doctors have a few tests they can use to monitor a baby’s heart rate and gauge his or her tolerance for contraction stress. Early in your pregnancy, your OB-GYN may prepare a biophysical profile of your unborn child. This profile measures the overall strength of your baby’s heart rate.
If your doctor has concerns about your child’s heart rate, he or she may also perform a contraction stress test. In a controlled environment, this test checks to see how your unborn baby responds to contractions. If your child does not respond well, your doctor may recommend a cesarian section.
Both damaging and deadly types of contraction stress are usually preventable. Ultimately, if your doctor does not perform the necessary tests or ignores warning signs during delivery, you may be eligible for substantial compensation for any injuries your unborn child suffers.