Physicians often monitor the heart rate of the fetus during labor and late pregnancy. This enables the doctor to check the rhythm, rate, deceleration and acceleration of the fetal heartbeat and the baseline heartbeat. The heart rate can change due to the conditions in the uterus. If the pattern or heart rate is abnormal, there are problems such as not enough oxygen is being received by the fetus. In some cases, a cesarean delivery becomes necessary. A type of ultrasound called a handheld Doppler is used during fetal monitoring to hear the heartbeat of the fetus. This procedure is common during prenatal visits or for the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. During late pregnancy and labor, the fetus is evaluated using electronic monitoring. There are several different types of procedures, and each has different variations.
The Types of Fetal Monitoring
There are two types of heart rate monitoring used during labor. Auscultation listens to the fetal heartbeat periodically. Electronic fetal monitoring uses instruments to record the heartbeat and the mother’s contractions continually during labor. The method used is dependent on the hospital, obstetrician, risks of the mother and the way the labor is progressing. If there are no problems, risk factors or complications, both methods are considered acceptable.
Either a Doppler transducer or a special stethoscope are used for the auscultation method. The heartbeat of the fetus can be heard by pressing the transducer against the mother’s abdomen. This method is used by the health care professional during labor to ensure there are no problems with the heart rate of the fetus. The heart rate is recorded and checked more often if there are any issues during the labor or risk factors.
Electronic monitoring involves the use of special equipment to check the response of the contractions of the uterus to the heart rate of the fetus. This establishes an ongoing record that the health care professional can read. The electronic recording is reviewed at set times to check the heartbeat of the fetus or the fetal heart rate tracing. If there are any problems, the tracing will be read more often. Electronic monitoring can be internal, external or a combination of the two.
Getting All the Facts
If you are interested in receiving fetal monitoring and/or if you have additional questions about the process, please feel free to set up a consultation at South Lake OB/GYN in Clermont. Contact our office today to book your appointment.