Fetal heart rate monitoring during labor is a useful tool
Our Southlake obgyns want women to know what to expect during labor. Our physicians employ fetal heart rate monitoring during labor to detect changes in a baby’s heart rate that may need to be addressed.
Two methods of fetal heart rate monitoring during labor
Our Southlake obgyns use two methods of fetal heart rate monitoring during labor, depending on the mother’s condition, risk of problems and how labor is progressing.
- 1. Auscultation
This periodic method of monitoring is performed with a Doppler transducer, a handheld ultrasound device that is pressed against a mother’s belly so medical personnel can hear the baby’s heart rate. Auscultation can also be performed with a special stethoscope.
- 2. Electronic fetal monitoring
This is a continuous method of fetal heart rate monitoring during labor. During this type of monitoring, special instruments record both the mother’s contractions and the baby’s heart rate. Medical personnel review the readings at set times during labor, monitoring the information more often if there are issues or problems.
Internal and external monitoring
Auscultation is a type of fetal monitoring during labor that is always external. Electronic fetal monitoring may be performed internally, externally or both.
During external electronic fetal monitoring, medical personnel wrap two belts around a mother’s abdomen – one to monitor the baby’s heart rate and the other to monitor the length of and intervals between the mother’s contractions.
Internal fetal monitoring during labor can only take place after the mother’s water has broken. If medical personnel use this method, they will place an electrode on the baby’s scalp or the part of the baby’s body that is closest to the cervix to monitor the baby’s heart rate. They may also insert an intrauterine pressure catheter into the mother’s uterus to measure uterine contractions.
Several reasons why a woman may need electronic fetal monitoring
Our Southlake obgyns always communicate with patients during labor and encourage questions. There are many reasons why electronic fetal monitoring may be used.
- High risk pregnancy
- Preterm labor or labor occurring after week 42 of pregnancy
- The use of Pitocin or an epidural
- Excess vaginal bleeding
- Meconium detected in the amniotic fluid
If you are interested in learning more about fetal heart rate monitoring during labor, contact us. Our physicians are conveniently located in Grapevine.