Fetal monitoring is a catch all term to talk about how we watch your baby during labor. Fetal monitoring is done by both a midwives and doctors at home births, birth center births or hospital births.
The type of monitoring you will need for your labor will depend on where you are giving birth, who your practitioner is and how complicated your pregnancy and labor are. There are several types of monitoring:
- Auscultation with fetoscope
- Hand held doppler device
- External electronic fetal monitoring by ultrasound
- Internal electronic fetal monitoring with or with an internal uterine pressure catheter (IUPC)
You may require fetal monitoring due to the added risks to the baby if you have an epidural, pitocin, induction or other high risk situations like meconium staining, which may indicate fetal distress.
Monitoring a low risk woman is less intensive than the woman with a high risk pregnancy. Though in general, studies have shown that an increase in monitoring, particularly for low risk women, has not improved pregnancy outcomes, but it has increased the intervention rates, like cesarean section.
Photo © iStockPhoto