6 scary signs your foetus is in distress

If you experience any of these danger signs when you’re pregnant, get yourself to the hospital, stat!

Most mums-to-be dream of an easy pregnancy, and also to deliver their babies smoothly and safely. Yet, for some women, birthing their babies naturally isn’t within their control. This is especially so in cases of foetal distress, where the lives of their babies, are literally hanging in the balance. A foetus is said to be in distress when he gets less oxygen than he needs to survive.

Explains Singapore Medical Group ob-gyn Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone, “It is important and good to know that not all of these cases end up with Caesarean sections.” If your doctor has assessed you to be fully dilated with your baby’s head positioned low, they may attempt a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery.

Ultimately, foetal distress may result in long-term health issues for your newborn. When your baby is deprived of oxygen, this causes his blood to become more acidic ― this may lead to brain development issues, cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. The baby can also die.

Dr Dharshini notes that in Singapore, there’s as many as in one foetal distress emergency in every four cases of labour!


Foetal distress may result in long-term health issues for your newborn…brain development issues, cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. The baby can also die.

The health of your placenta is a major reason for the baby in your womb going into distress. SmartParents expert and Gleneagles Hospital ob-gyn, Dr Christopher Chong notes that foetal distress usually results from bleeding, the placenta separating from the uterine wall and placental insufficiency. This is when the placenta is unable to provide baby with an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen.

Umbilical cord issues are another cause for concern. Sometimes, the cord can be too short or is too tightly wound around baby’s limbs or neck. Your unborn child is also at a higher risk of distress if:

* The levels of amniotic fluids in the water bag is too high or too low.

* Baby is smaller in size or overdue.

* The mother is obese, has gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.

* The mother smokes.


Common signs of foetal distress to look out for include…

1. Vaginal bleeding Dr Chong cautions that fresh bleeding should not occur especially in the last two trimesters as this is a cause for concern. While you’re expected to bleed to some degree during labour, Dr Dharshini says that this bleeding should not bloody the amniotic fluid in the water bag. This is a sign of a possible placental abruption, which usually entails an emergency C-section.


Five more danger signs to be alert to… Coming right up!