Common Complications

Common Complications

Although serious complications are rare during labor, some problems can develop during this time. Some of the more common complications include:

Fetal meconium

When the amniotic sac ruptures, the normal color of the amniotic fluid is clear.

If the amniotic fluid is greenish or brown in color, fetal meconium may be present, which is normally passed after birth as the baby's first bowel movement.

Meconium in the amniotic fluid may be associated with fetal distress.

Abnormal fetal heart rate

The fetal heart rate during labor is a good sign of how the fetus is handling the contractions of labor. The heart rate is usually electronically monitored during labor.

The normal range varies between 110 and 160 beats per minute.

If a fetus appears to be in distress, immediate action can be taken. The mother can be given oxygen, increase fluids and change her position or a decision to perform a C-section may need to be made.

Abnormal position of the fetus during birth

The normal position for the fetus during birth is head-down, facing the mother's back. However, sometimes a fetus is not in the right position, making delivery more difficult through the birth canal.

There are several abnormal positions for a fetus, including the following:

  • Positioned head-down but facing the mother's front
  • Positioned with the face down into the mother's pelvis, instead of the top of the fetal head
  • Positioned with the brow down in the mother's pelvis
  • Positioned breech (where the buttocks or feet are down first in the mother's pelvis)
  • Positioned with one shoulder in the mother's pelvis

Depending on the position, a health care provider may try to deliver the fetus as it presents itself, attempt to turn the fetus before delivery or perform a cesarean delivery.