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How do I Tell If Something Is Wrong With a Baby in the Womb?

By Kristin Davis ; Updated June 13, 2017

Pregnancy complications can arise no matter how healthy the expectant mother is or how careful she’s been to protect her precious bundle of joy. Certain complications are minor, such as a low fetal heart rate, while others pose a more serious threat such as a still birth. Always consult with your obstetrician about any abnormal fetal activity or if you suspect that something is wrong.

History

At your first prenatal visit your doctor will record your weight, height and ask for a complete medical history. Depending upon your obstetrician’s practice, his office may request previous medical records from your primary care physician or simply take an oral medical history by asking you specific questions. Depending upon your medical history, your doctor may provide you with specific instructions if you were taking any prescriptions prior to your pregnancy, give strict orders in regards to diet or other detailed information relating to your pregnancy.

Time Frame

During certain points of your pregnancy, your doctor may perform or order specific testing. He may screen you for gestational diabetes, which can occur during pregnancy, monitor your blood pressure, monitor the baby’s heart rate and monitor the baby’s growth and development. Your obstetrician will monitor your blood pressure and weight with each visit while he may only monitor your baby’s heart rate periodically at visits; it depends upon the doctor and your pregnancy.

Benefits

Monitoring your health condition along with your baby’s can provide you with peace of mind knowing that your baby is strong and healthy. Early detection of birth defects or potential threats to your baby can save her life. By performing an ultra sound, your doctor can examine your baby’s image and determine if she has a serious condition such as spina bifida or isn’t growing at the same rate of other baby’s her age during that particular gestational period.

Warning

Your pregnancy may seem like it’s going perfectly, but should you experience any sudden or alarming changes, notify your doctor immediately. Signs that may warrant prompt medical attention include a sudden, significant decrease in fetal movement, heavy bleeding or spotting, intense or sharp abdominal pains before it’s time to give birth, a gush of fluid from your vaginal area with no signs of pain or bleeding or if you notice you’ve passed fetal tissue.

Significance

Certain warning signs may indicate a miscarriage, such as passing fetal tissue, while others such as a weak or faint heart beat could simply be a false reading. Your doctor can examine you to tell whether or not a miscarriage has occurred. If your baby has a faint heart beat, the Doppler or fetal monitors may not be placed properly and will give a false reading. If your baby suddenly quits moving, he could be sleeping but it could also be something more serious such as the umbilical cord becoming entangled around his neck, cutting off circulation. Only your obstetrician can determine the exact cause of any problems or complications arising during your pregnancy.

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