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Is it bad for baby's heartrate to drop to 80bpm?

(36 Posts)
Lonz Wed 12-Aug-15 16:25:52

I've always found it hard to come to terms with my son's birth mainly because they didn't tell me what was happening or why they intervened.

After a birth debrief I found out the reason for them rushing my labour. Towards the end of the 2nd stage, my son's heart rate dropped to 80 bpm for maybe over 5 minutes (not wholly sure) with a bit of a recovery but went straight back down again, it didn't recover. Is this bad? Would there have been severe consequences if they hadn't intervened?

I know the heart rate is meant to be in between 110 and 160 I think, but is it really that bad for a babies heart rate to be lower or higher than this for longer than normal? Is it reason enough for intervention or could I have been left to birth him properly?
It was the first decel during labour and it happened as I was getting ready to push him out. My mum said there was a lot of blood and he just kept going back in everytime I pushed, which I assume is normal for baby to linger before actually being born (need to stretch etc). I would never have gotten him out when they were telling me to push anyway, then ended in rushed episiotomy which I've hated ever since as I wasn't told a reason for it.

My son was born limp, blue, bruised and unresponsive. They put some air on him as my mum says and rushed the cord cutting and placenta. When they gave him to me they said he was shocked from the quick delivery (established labour lasted 3hrs 30mins), so I didn't think anything drastic had happened so couldn't understand what their problem was. I've never known why they took the last bit of my labour away from me until I had a debrief which I think is wrong.

If I didn't feel like they attacked me then I don't think I would have at all had a problem with his birth which is pretty shitty to be honest. One bit of information is all I needed. Because of it, it's led me to question everything else about his birth, it's frustrating.

I don't know, if anyone can give some insight, a midwife, it'd be appreciated, thank you.

dragonflyinthelillies Wed 12-Aug-15 16:34:54

Babies do not have the reserves that adults have and any deceleration of hb is very serious. It means that not enough oxygen is being pumped around their body and there is serious risk of damage to their brain and other organs.
To maybe help put it in context a heart rate in a baby of 60 or less is treated as a cardiac arrest and cpr (heart massage) would be given.

Sorry to heat about your traumatic birth but it sounds like it was essential that your baby was born asap in order to prevent life long disabilities, such as cerebal palsy.

The fact that your son was born limp, blue and unresponsive is an massive indicator that all was not at all well.

dragonflyinthelillies Wed 12-Aug-15 16:37:24

Sorry should read any prolonged and significant deceleration

villainousbroodmare Wed 12-Aug-15 16:38:28

He's awfully lucky you weren't left to "birth him properly"!
Is he all right?

3littlefrogs Wed 12-Aug-15 16:41:29

A fetal heart rate dropping to 80 for 5 minutes would mean all hands on deck to get that baby out by whatever means possible. It would be considered a serious emergency with risk of severe injury or death of the baby.

Nobody would have had time to explain in anything but the simplest terms.

I am sorry you had a traumatic experience but thank goodness they delivered your baby quickly.

I hope you will be able to come to terms with what happened and enjoy your little boy.


Imnotaslimjim Wed 12-Aug-15 16:45:35

It must feel to you that all decisions were taken from you, and that you were totally out of control

a decel that low though could have caused brain damage. Given that he was born blue and unresponsive shows that the quick response from the medics helped prevent any damage being done

MY DS was born rapidly after a 26 hour labour. The chord was twice round his neck and he didn't attempt to breath. It took a minute or 2 of intervention to get him to take a breath. He went on to have seizures until he was a year old. Thankfully, he is completely unharmed (now 10yo) but I dread to think what would have happened if he hadn't come so quickly

Lonz Wed 12-Aug-15 16:51:17

Wow. No one has ever told it like that to me before! Thank you. Why didn't they tell me this?

He is fine, yes. I never knew the reason for them doing that, and for me my son was the only plausible reason for them to cut me and deal with it. Not the blood or any issue with me, I wouldn't have cared about that.

I'm annoyed that they didn't inform me because it left me with PTSD for 3 years and I felt violated. On top of not even knowing what and why things happened, I had a shit hospital stay, broken stitches, shit recovery and had a distressing 2 months afterwards but the root cause was not knowing why they intervened. Thank you for your replies. It's helped put it into perspective.
Wow, now I feel crap for being so hung up on it this long when it could have been a lot worse!

CarrieLouise25 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:53:56

I had a sort of similar situation, but was left to push myself. I had the strap thing on the whole time, and the heart rate was between 70-80 for ages, and I could hear it the whole time. There were loads of people (docs/midwives) in the room at one point, and it took over 1hour and 20 minutes to push.

He was blue and limp when he came out, had to be resuscitated. He is fine now smile

But I often wonder when they were going to intervene. I'm glad they didn't, but if my story had ended badly, then I would have then wished they had.

I wouldn't want to be a midwife, making those tough calls.

So sorry you had such terrible aftercare x

MarchLikeAnAnt Wed 12-Aug-15 16:55:22

My DDs birth was almost exactly the same, apart from they used ventouse instead of giving me an epistomy. She came out limp, blue and bruised too. I was only a couple of mins away from having an emergency c-section.
I suffered terrible PND afterwards and still have flash backs. I think it's the complete loss of control and affected me so bad.

Have you had any counselling to help you deal with your feeling surrounding the birth?

MarchLikeAnAnt Wed 12-Aug-15 16:56:00


DayLillie Wed 12-Aug-15 17:01:42

DS1's heart beat dropped during start of the second stage.

I was told that if it dropped below 90, they would be concerned. I was rushed to the delivery room and put on a monitor and it recovered. I was told it was probably shock from the rapid labour (3 hrs). It was very worrying and they were obviously keen to get him out, but he was allowed to arrive normally.

I think I was nearly where you went sad It is scary.

Lonz Wed 12-Aug-15 17:09:31

It's been over 3 years now and it was only in May this year that I realised I couldn't deal with it anymore. I couldn't talk about it before. I didn't think I deserved to feel this way, but then I started to find that there are infact a lot of women that can't come to terms with their baby's birth. I never knew you could be traumatised by childbirth.
I arranged to see a therapist and for a birth debrief pretty much as soon as I found out I had PTSD and it was plaguing my life. I've never been back to the hospital and never trusted NHS since. But I hope with therapy I can maybe return without having a panic attack?

My mum tried to tell me in the weeks following that they needed to get him out but even she didn't know the whole situation. I didn't want to acknowledge it because I was a ball of fury. I threw everything out I took to hospital and all his baby stuff, it's ridiculous.

swisscheesetony Wed 12-Aug-15 17:18:36

DS1 had decels down to 66.

He starts primary 1 next week, can run, jump, swim, ride a pony, write, tell stories, make friends, has a thirst for knowledge and has a joie de vivre. It'll be ok. X

swisscheesetony Wed 12-Aug-15 17:20:04

Not a midwife, but 100% convinced if I'd not had that emcs I would have no DS1.

KokoLoko Wed 12-Aug-15 17:23:19

Sorry to hear everyone's stories, especially you Lonz. I too had similar when DS1's heartrate dropped. They thought it was shock because I hadn't known I was in labour and when told I was that sent adrenaline through me that affected him. However, I was lucky that my midwife debriefed me the next day and told me that DS1's vitals were the worst of any she'd seen for a baby that had survived. I just felt grateful that he had lived after that news and was so in love with him that I didn't have time to dwell. However, DH who saw it all happen (I wasn't really aware) was quite traumatised and when I was in labour with DS2 was very anxious in case it happened again.

I hope your therapy helps Lonz

dragonflyinthelillies Wed 12-Aug-15 17:27:13

I'm glad you got the answers you wanted. Sorry if i sounded a bit blunt I just wanted to get the seriousness across.

I think childbirth is so traumatic and dangerous and just not talked about enough. I know how traumatised i felt from my ds and he was a pretty textbook although very quick birth!

I hope with some help you can finally get some closure and I'm so glad that your
Ds is OK


FraterculaArctica Wed 12-Aug-15 17:32:46

My DS had.prolonged decelerations down to.between 80 and 90. I was only.5 cm dilated so they went straight to crash C section - I.e. a case where they are concerned for the life of.either the mother or baby. Ds was out (and fine) less than 20 mins after the heart rate first dropped in a long but otherwise unproblematic labour. Hope that gives you.some perspective on why this situation is considered an emergency move on.

madwomanbackintheattic Wed 12-Aug-15 17:34:20

Dd2 hr was 28bpm when she was born and we are not sure how long it had been like that (monitoring was sketchy and they kept losing the trace - we have periods of 45 mins where no monitoring was done at all). She has brain damage and cp. I had a student mw doing the monitoring (or not) and the mw supervisor just checked I was fully dilated so that I could start pushing. She realized instantly and crashed the resus team and called for help to get the baby out ASAP. The poor student cried at the back of the room while they worked to save dd2's life.

I had counseling much much later to help with the ptsd. It is much improved.

purplemurple1 Wed 12-Aug-15 21:13:48

Thanks op this has put my dc2 birth in to perspective as she had decels during pushing and was kind of pulled out by her shoulders but id never known why they couldn't wait for one more contraction.

Lonz Wed 12-Aug-15 22:39:21

I'm glad it helped you too purple. I never understood why they couldn't just leave me for a bit longer and give me a chance to do it myself.

I wish I had been given a debrief the day after, maybe I wouldn't have been feeling tortured for 3 years and I could have been a normal mum from the start.

Bless you madwoman.
Thank you everyone for replying. It really has helped me out with niggling questions I yearned answers for.

MrsFbabyNo1 Thu 13-Aug-15 11:00:30

Hi there, so sorry it took you so long to get your debrief. and I too have found the responses very interesting as my my 4week old experienced plummeting heart rate in labour.

My waters went with thick meconium in at 8pm, arrived at hospital at 8:40pm. I was put on constant heart rate monitoring by fetal scalp electrode as he was obv distressed. At 10.20 his heart rate plummeted to 70bpm, crash call made, Consultant and team came piling into room, I was only 3cm so no way he was coming out that way v soon! A class 1 emcs was called (immediate risk to life), I was taken straight to theatre and on way offered spinal or general anestheticby anesthetist. I said spinal but consultant obsetrician then said very simply no time, need to save his life. I agreed to be put to sleep. Our baby was born approx 20 mins after crash call was made. He had apgar scores of 9. No reason found in op for his distress, he just didn't like labour!

I asked for the consultant obsetrician to come speak to me before I left hospital (day 2) as I remembered some stuff as I was coming off gas n air but wanted it all explained to be when fully complus mentus. it really did help, logically explaining all the issues, asking questions, I saw the heart rate tracing and the plummeting like a cliff edge. Maybe they came to see me as GA for emcs is only 1 in 10 I think so quite dramatic and hence they can see why someone might want to see the consultant while still in hospital. I'm not sure if that usually happens.

If they didn't act so quickly he might not have made it. I don't feel sad I didn't "experience" the birth, Im just so happy he's safe and well. I never dreamt of giving birth, I'd always dreamt of being a mummy / having a baby to love, and the perfect little man we have is exactly that... a dream come true.

hope this thread and our stories is helping you more OP.

Lonz Thu 13-Aug-15 18:21:12

Yes it has helped hearing other's stories and how serious it was. No one made me feel like my emotions surrounding my son's birth were valid because it was regarded as a typically normal birth. Not to me it wasn't as neither of my sister's had any problems with their 7 kids and my mum was shocked too. She has 5 and had never seen anything like that before, she'd been at all my sister's births as well. She thought the worst because she'd never seen midwives panic, the blood loss and a blue limp baby.

I just can't comprehend why they allowed me to live 3 years of motherhood not even knowing what had happened to me or my son, why they stole my birth from me and what they did to me afterwards. I found out from my debrief that I had 5 separate injuries that they didn't even mention to me. I was just in a lot of pain and at that point I didn't even know I had lost a lot of blood when they were checking me. It's bizarre. It's a basic human right to know what they're doing to you and why. I was a first time mum, I didn't know what was routine or normal procedure. I didn't know what they were stitching, I didn't know my muscle had been cut or anything. I felt so isolated, like I was a butchered lamb that had been hung out to dry on the postnatal ward with the rest of the mums that had given birth so they can get on with the next one.

It was just exacerbated by the crap aftercare and little regard for how I was. They didn't check up on me, help me with breastfeeding and they literally told me they forgot I was on the ward when they finally discharged me. Then I got sent back to hospital when my son was about 2wks old (I was still walking like a cowboy!) because of suspected jaundice (it was his bruises) then got kicked out at 3am because there was nothing wrong, then I got attitude from the community midwife when I complained to her about it.
Fuck the lot of them to be honest. They drove me nuts and I couldn't wait to be discharged from their 'care'.

I am rambling. I didn't think in a million years it would have gone the way it did when they act like angels and say 'nothing is going to go wrong' in your antenatal appts.

Lonz Thu 13-Aug-15 19:42:31

Why are you never told anything afterwards? Surely they can just arrange for someone to go round and debrief every woman that has given birth to prevent things like this. There is someone who's job is to give birth debriefs anyway, why don't they tell you about the service and the fact you can actually talk to someone about what happened and why? (I didn't know about debriefs until a few months ago)
Like not being funny but "you've just cut my vagina open- can you tell me why please because I only need it for the rest of my life?"

She told me "you're getting a bit tight" - why wouldn't she have told me "you're baby needs to be born now"? I lived thinking I was cut unnecessarily as I would have preferred to tear and I couldn't understand why they just didn't let me tear, they didn't ask me.

I don't know I just think that if they took more care over the mother's mental state after childbirth they could have helped a lot of women out. You can't say it's normal when it's not and the emergency bell gets pressed and the mum's just laying there not knowing what's going on.

nocoolnamesleft Fri 14-Aug-15 02:36:43

Speaking as one of the people who gets crash called to try to turn limp, blue, floppy, non-breathing, sometimes no-heart-rate babies into live pink babies, I honestly think that it sounds like your baby was out in the nick of time. If I run into the room to hear there's been a heart rate of 80 for 5 minutes (prolonged bradycardia), I'll be checking all the kit for full resuscitation, and starting intensive care, whilst desperately hoping not to need it.

To try to explain. Babies have healthy hearts. They don't have hearts damaged by decades of smoking, and cholesterol, and insufficient exercise. When a baby becomes distressed, they usually increase their heart rate. They don't start to drop their heart rate, especially for such a long period, until they are so exhausted that things can go very pear shaped very fast.

It certainly sounds as though communications should have been better. But in terms of what the team had to do when that heart rate was picked up? They had to get baby out. Because the longer they take, the risks start to go up, of brain damage, or even death.

Did you tell your postnatal midwife how awful you felt? Or did it really kick in later? They should certainly have been able to tell you about the debrief service. I wonder whether noone volunteered it to you because they saw it as a success: despite the profound fetal bradycardia you'd managed to deliver vaginally, and thank god the baby's okay, so brilliant outcome. And not realised that you were in a different place.

Plateofcrumbs Fri 14-Aug-15 03:48:30

Lonz I am sorry you have suffered so much after the birth of your son.

I had a similar birth although as we had had a number of decelerations even before I was in labour (was monitored after my waters broke), I was fully aware why the previously calm delivery room was suddenly swarming with a crash team. In fact it was me who first noticed the decel as I was listening to the monitor like a hawk and I knew how serious it was when his heartrate suddenly plummeted. I also had an amazing midwife who came in as part of the crash team who held my hand, calmly explained what was happening and advocated for me when things were happening too quickly to really involve me in decisions.

DS was fine after a few moments help to start his breathing, and I still consider my birth experience to be a positive one. My episiotomy healed easily and I just had a bit of anaemia from the blood loss (and was utterly exhausted for a week or so).

I regret the fact that amongst the chaos and my exhaustion I have no real memory of the first time I held DS, but that is something I can live with - I have other precious movies of our first days together.

I am really sorry that you suffered so badly Lonz. As the PP said in my case it was definitely considered a successful outcome and I had no special follow up as a result - I think it is considered quite a 'normal' birth outcome. But birth trauma can arise from even comparatively straightforward births so I think it is extremely important that the aftercare is there for all women irrespective of the type of birth they experienced.

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