When expecting a baby, nothing is more important than the health of both mom and baby. This means knowing how to monitor your baby’s fetal heart rate closely so that you know when things aren’t going as planned. It can be scary and overwhelming at first, but with all the technology available today, it doesn’t have to be!
This blog post will discuss the importance of fetal monitoring during pregnancy before birth, how to monitor fetal heart rate, and what signs should alert you that something might not be right. So let’s begin a journey towards keeping an eye out for your tiny one!
What is Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring?
It is a necessary procedure performed during labor and delivery to assess the well-being of the developing fetus. It involves using specialized equipment to measure the rate and rhythm of the baby’s heartbeat.
This is achieved with the help of an electronic fetal monitoring technique, which uses a Doppler ultrasound or a fetal scalp electrode to detect the baby’s heartbeat and record it on a monitor.
Why is Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Done?
Fetal heart rate monitoring evaluates the fetal response to contractions, fetal distress, and oxygen deprivation. It provides valuable information about the baby’s health and helps identify potential risks or complications during labor and delivery.
The procedure is typically performed during active labor and is frequently used in high-risk pregnancies. This includes pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, maternal infections, and multiple gestations.
It can be done intermittently or continuously, depending on the clinical setting and situation. It is a low-risk procedure, and the benefits far outweigh any potential risks. It is an essential tool in the management of labor and delivery and can help ensure the safe delivery of a healthy baby.
Types Of Fetal Monitoring During Labor
Various methods of monitoring the fetus’s heart rate include:
Fetal heartbeat monitoring is performed less often these days. Your healthcare practitioner will place an electrode on your baby’s scalp to monitor the fetal heart rate, boy or girl, in real time.
After the mother’s water has burst, and only during active labor, does the medical staff resort to internal monitoring. The outcomes of electronic fetal monitoring performed externally are inaccurate. You can’t monitor things accurately enough.
Here’s is how to measure fetal heart rate on ultrasound:
Medics use stethoscopes to listen to patients’ hearts and lungs; this tool is conceptually similar. It tapers to a point at the tip. In order to detect the fetus’s heartbeat, your doctor will apply pressure to the cone on your stomach.
Handheld Doppler Ultrasound
Doppler ultrasonography employs sound waves to determine the high fetal heart rate. During prenatal appointments, providers often use portable Doppler machines. Once the gel has been applied, the provider will insert the probe into the gel on your stomach.
Your baby’s heart rate is detected and shown on the screen. Portable Doppler instruments suitable for use at home are now commercially available. But the FDA does not recommend using these gadgets in private settings.
Continuous Doppler Ultrasound
Your healthcare practitioner may recommend electronic fetal monitoring to be ongoing the whole time you’re in labor. The ultrasound machine will be secured to your stomach using an elastic band.
Another strap secures a contraction-monitoring device on your body. The baby’s heart rate may be continuously read from the monitor thanks to the wires connecting the various devices.
Is It Safe To Monitor A Fetus’s Heart Rate?
Monitoring a fetus’s heart rate has no health risks. However, most specialists agree that monitoring a healthy pregnancy constantly isn’t essential if the mother’s health is in good shape.
One of the benefits of continuous electronic fetal monitoring is that it limits your mobility, which is sometimes necessary during labor. It also raises the likelihood that a needless cesarean section or vacuum-assisted or forceps delivery may be performed.
Risks associated with internal monitoring include:
- Your infant will suffer from a skull fracture and asphyxiation.
- Contamination during pregnancy.
- Mother-to-child transmission of HIV or genital herpes.
Fetal Doppler Test Results
The experience of hearing your growing baby’s heartbeat for the first time is an emotional milestone for many expectant parents. However, it’s important to remember that the heartbeat of a developing fetus is much faster than that of an adult.
If you’re in your initial trimester and cannot discern the sound of your baby’s heartbeat, there is no need to fret. Dopplers are not typically able to pick up the sound of a growing fetal heart rate by week until around 10-12 weeks.
If your physician cannot detect a fetal heartbeat during an early exam, they may schedule a follow-up appointment shortly. Alternatively, an ultrasound exam may yield more comprehensive information on the health of your baby’s heartbeat. A fetal heart rate (FHR) typically ranges between 110 and 160 beats per minute but can vary by five to 25 beats per minute.
Various factors in your uterus can impact the FHR, which may cause it to shift outside of the typical range. If an FHR reading falls outside this range, your physician may investigate why your baby may not receive enough oxygen or if there may be additional concerns.
If there is cause for concern regarding your growing baby’s heart health, your physician may recommend a fetal echocardiogram. This evaluation is a safe and noninvasive test that uses ultrasound to create a detailed picture of your baby’s heart.
This test can provide additional, crucial information, such as identifying an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) your developing baby may be experiencing.
To Sum Up
Fetal heart rate monitoring is done to evaluate the fetal response to contractions, fetal distress, and oxygen deprivation. The procedure is typically done during active labor and is frequently used in high-risk pregnancies. It is safe and noninvasive monitoring of the baby’s health and can provide invaluable information.
If the fetal heart rate falls outside what is considered normal, a follow-up ultrasound or fetal echocardiogram may be recommended to further assess the baby’s health. The benefits of fetal heart rate monitoring far outweigh any associated risks, and it is an important tool for the management of labor and delivery.