Decreased fetal heart rate and labor and delivery can be an important discussion, especially in the context of HIE, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Where things can get extremely dangerous is when the decreased fetal heart rate continues, despite conservative interventions.


In today’s article, and supporting video, we will discuss decreased fetal heart rate and essentially what can cause this during labor and delivery (not an exhaustive list however). Not every decreased fetal heart rate will be problematic, but in certain situations with other factors it can be problematic.


Fetal Bradycardia


Fetal bradycardia can be classified as a decreased fetal heart rate and baseline below 110 beats per minute. In many instances during labor and delivery a normal heart rate will range between 120-160 beats per minute. A baseline above 160 begins to enter the fetal tachycardia range.


In some cases, when your baby goes to sleep during labor and delivery, the heart rate might decrease some. With that said, doctors and nurses, through the help of the electronic fetal heart monitor, can assess how well a baby is tolerating the labor and delivery. These sleep cycles do not usually last too long. Also, contraction patterns, which can “squeeze” the baby can lead to a slight decrease in the fetal heart rate.


Decreased Fetal Heart Rate And Labor And Delivery


While it is true that a decreased fetal heart rate during labor and delivery can happen because the baby might be in a sleep cycle, a sudden drop in the fetal heart rate pattern down into the bradycardia realm can be also caused by compression of the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord can be classified as a baby’s lifeline because it supplies blood and oxygen to the baby.


When fetal bradycardia is present, and it is coupled with other troubled factors such as late decelerations, and or minimal variability, an argument can be made that the strip is no longer reassuring. Fetal bradycardia, that is caused by a sudden compression of the umbilical cord can mean blood and oxygen reduction for the baby.


The condition HIE is a medical condition that is created through a reduction in blood and oxygen which can lead to a brain injury. Therefore, a decreased heart rate into the bradycardia range can be dangerous for a baby if it is not diagnosed and corrected through treatment measures. In some cases, an emergency C-section may be needed to help the baby.


To speak with me further about your baby’s HIE diagnosis and decreased fetal heart rate during labor and delivery I can be reached at the telephone number below. I speak with families all the time about these issues, and I would be happy to listen to your story.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815


1-833-4 BABY HELP

Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties. blgesq Maryland birth injury attorneys