Originally Posted by maxmama
To diagnose true fetal distress, you need not only Apgars below 7 at 5 minutes but also lab evidence of hypoxic acidemia (usually defined as an art pH below 7.10 on birth cord gases). Most babies don't meet these criteria. the tricky part is that some babies look crappy on monitoring and come out fine. Other babies look crappy and don't come out fine. Monitoring is pretty non-specific.
This is what I've always heard too.
And I'll add that I read somewhere, although I cannot remember where, that 75% of baby's who *appear* to be in distress to the point of warranting a c-section actually turn out to be fine upon delivery by section.
The problem lies in the fact that there's no way to know for sure if a baby is the 1 in 4 who is TRULY in severe distress vs. the 3 of 4 that would likely be fine with continued labor.
Plus, I think these days docs are so much more likely to section at the first little blip that doesn't look right vs. waiting it out. Obviously you'd expect a baby who is only showing minimal signs of distress to come out with decent Apgars vs. one that has no heart rate left by the time they finally get mom to the OR.
I think most OB's way of thinking is more along the lines of 'Why on earth would we let the baby get into THAT much trouble without intervening if the signs were there that baby was in trouble.'