Our practice provides fetal monitoring throughout your pregnancy as well as during labor and delivery. We are committed to providing compassionate support and patient-centered care. Learn more about fetal monitoring and contact us to schedule an appointment.

What is Fetal Monitoring?

Fetal monitoring entails observing and interpreting the heartbeat of a fetus, or unborn baby. This common practice is an important part of prenatal care as well as during the labor process when a baby is born.

  • External Fetal Monitoring – This easy-to-use and noninvasive approach uses a handheld device called a doppler which uses sound waves to detect your baby’s heartbeat.
  • Internal Fetal Monitoring – This makes use of a small wire that is placed on your baby’s head while they are still in the womb.

An abnormal heart rate does not always mean your baby is in danger, but it is a sign that should not be ignored.

Fetal Monitoring During Pregnancy

External fetal monitoring is a simple yet significant aspect of prenatal care because it allows your healthcare provider to track and interpret your unborn baby’s heart rate. This allows for potential problems to be detected as early as possible. During a checkup, your nurse or doctor will distribute warm ultrasound gel on your stomach, which helps the doppler device to move around. From there, they will rub the doppler across your lower belly until they find the baby’s heartbeat. You will be able to hear it, too. Typically, a fetus’ heart rate ranges between 110 to 160 beats per minute (bpm), but it can vary throughout pregnancy. If no heartbeat can be found or if the heartbeat is irregular, the next steps will be determined and discussed with you.

Fetal Monitoring During Labor & Delivery

Soon after you go into labor and are checked into your labor and delivery room, a fetal heart monitor will be fastened around your belly. This device sends your baby’s heart rate to a computer, where it can be viewed on a screen. This is necessary to detect changes in the heart rate as it fluctuates up and down. While you may not be connected to the heart monitor the entire time you are in labor, once you start pushing, you will be connected to the monitor continuously. Throughout the labor and delivery process, if there are any drastic changes in your baby’s heart rate that indicate fetal distress, intervention may be required, such as an emergency C-section.

Internal Fetal Monitoring

Internal fetal monitoring is only used for emergencies, such as after your water has broken or when your doctor cannot obtain a good reading from external monitoring. The readings it provides are more accurate than external methods because it is not affected by movement. There are some risks associated with this method, and it may cause a small cut on your baby’s scalp, but this will heal quickly.

Schedule Your Appointment

Turn to our practice for experienced obstetric services before, during and after your pregnancy. Contact us to schedule an appointment.