Cochrane Summaries

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Operative versus conservative management for 'fetal distress' in labour

Hofmeyr GJ, Kulier R
Published Online: 
13 June 2012

Too little evidence to show whether relieving factors causing a baby's distress during labour is better than birth with caesarean, forceps or ventouse intervention.

Babies showing signs of distress during labour (unusual heart rates or the passing of a bowel motion) are at greater risk of complications following their birth. Operative management, such as surgery to remove the baby through the woman's abdomen (caesarean delivery) or the use of surgical instruments for vaginal delivery may be offered. The review of one study (350 women) found too little evidence to show whether operative management is more beneficial than treating factors which may be causing the baby's distress, such as too little fluid surrounding the baby, the woman's physical position or pain relief (conservative management). Further research is needed.

This record should be cited as: 
Hofmeyr GJ, Kulier R. Operative versus conservative management for 'fetal distress' in labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001065. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001065.pub2
Assessed as up to date: 
9 May 2012