In cases where a fetus is poorly grown due to an adverse intrauterine environment, it adapts to survive the challenge. The primary purpose of these adaptations is to maintain oxygen supply to the key organs, namely, the brain, heart and adrenals. These reflexes are stimulated by the peripheral arterial chemoreceptors. Unlike the child or adult, chemoreceptor stimulation inhibits breathing movements in the fetus. These adaptive responses underlie many of the biophysical assessments of fetal well-being. The responses and the biophysical measurements are listed in Table 19.2.
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Once your pregnancy is over and done with, your baby is happily in your arms, and youre headed back home from the hospital, youll begin to realize that things have only just begun. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, youre going to increasingly notice that your entire life has changed in more ways than you could ever imagine.