Fetal head compression is the most common cause of an early deceleration that occurs during labor as the fetal head advances in the birth canal.
Often during the first stage of labor (cervix dilated 4 to 7cm), an early deceleration can occur while the uterus is contracting.
The process of inserting an internal fetal monitor probe can lead to fetal head compression.
During a vaginal exam, the presenting part is palpated which can lead to transient fetal head compression.
Applying external pressure on the laboring mother’s abdomen is one mechanism that causes fundal pressure and fetal head compression, which leads to an early deceleration.
An early deceleration is not associated with fetal hypoxemia, acidemia, or low Apgar scores. Consequently, there is no nursing intervention required other than continued monitoring.
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