During the last stage of pregnancy, you may be worried about contractions and uterine tachysystole. One may also wait for the dilated cervix to allow the baby to descend to the birth canal. Unfortunately, contractions are quite tricky. One might wonder if they are experiencing signs of false labor or real labor.
What is uterine tachysystole?
Pregnant women experiencing abnormal or excessive contractions is termed uterine tachysystole. Normally, contractions may last for 60-90 seconds during labor. In uterine tachysystole, women experience around 5 contractions in a span of 10 minutes when in labor. It is the condition where a woman in labor experiences excessively frequent or intense contractions.
It commonly occurs in situations where certain labor-stimulating medication like oxytocin is given. The medication may provide the woman with the hormone oxytocin which stimulated the contractions in the uterus during labor. Oxytocin is, therefore, vital to labor and delivery and it may be administered in its synthetic form. However, an adverse reaction or incorrect dosage can cause uterine tachysystole.
- Using labor stimulating medication such as misoprostol or oxytocin. Studies have shown that the use of oxytocin increases the chances of having uterine tachysystole by two times.
- Using epidural to manage pain during labor.
- Induction of labor through medication leads to tachysystole because labor stimulants tend to make the contractions longer and more frequent. Incorrect administration of these medicines can lead to tachysystole.
Changes in fetal heart rate and oxygen supply
It is common in the fetus but doesn’t necessarily indicate an adverse outcome for the baby. The umbilical cord is the source of oxygen and blood for the baby. During contractions, this flow may reduce or stop. The period between contractions is therefore important to keep the flow going. When the contractions become excessively frequent and intense, there is not enough time for the placenta to relax. Thus reducing oxygen supply to the fetus and decelerating its heart rate. The supply of oxygen is critical to the baby’s life. Tachysystole may result in asphyxia leading to brain injury, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or seizure disorders. The baby may also have fetal acidosis which means that the acid levels in the brain increase causing brain injuries such as cerebral palsy.
This means that the fetus may be expelled from the womb into the mother’s abdomen. This poses severe risks to the life of the baby and its mother. Uterine rupture can lead to severe blood loss and its related complications for the mother. And for the baby, it will hinder oxygen supply and cause asphyxia, cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, fetal acidosis, or other such complications.
It may increase the chances of uterine tachysystole.
Difference between uterine tachysystole and hyperstimulation
Uterine tachysystole is more than 5 contractions in 10 minutes and averaged over a 30-minute window. Whereas hyperstimulation is when uterine tachysystole and hypertonus condition leads to a nonreassuring fetal heart rate pattern.
Treatment for uterine tachysystole
- If labor stimulating medication is being used, the doctor should closely monitor the condition of the fetus. The complications can be identified. Monitor oxygen levels, hydration, change in positions and even consider medical intervention where necessary.
- Maybe the woman had previously suffered from tachysystole or is having excessively frequent contractions. Then medical records should be examined so that the best course of action can be determined.
- If the mother begins to show signs of tachysystole, then the administration of labor-inducing drugs should be stopped immediately. The doctor should not wait till the baby also begins to exhibit symptoms.
- The woman should change the position with support and lie in a lateral position. Provide the mother with sufficient oxygen and increase the dosage of iv fluids if necessary.
- If there has been a uterine rupture, c-section delivery is necessary. Medications for fetal resuscitation should be administrated to prevent any permanent damage to the fetus.
Uterine tachysystole can be determined to the health of the mother and the life of the newborn if it is not managed adequately. The impact that it has on the fetus is critical and life-altering. Therefore, it must be diagnosed and treated properly in time.
- acute tocolysis for uterine tachysystole or suspected fetal distress (nih.gov)
- defining uterine tachysystole: how much is too much? – pubmed (nih.gov)