|Procedure: Monitoring Foetal Heart Rate|
The relation between foetal well-being and foetal heart
rate has been investigated in numerous studies and it now seems clear
that foetal distress may express itself in abnormalities of the heart
rate (e.g. bradycardia , <120 beats/min; tachycardia ,
>160/min; reduced variability or decelerations).
There are two main methods of monitoring the foetal heart heart rate:
- Intermittent auscultation . Here foetal heart rate is monitored
with either the classic, monaural stethoscope (foetal stethoscope=foetoscope),
or by a simple handheld apparatus. The auscultation is usually performed once every
15-30 minutes during the , and following every contraction during the .
- Electronic foetal heart monitoring . Electronic
monitoring is generally reserved for high-risk pregnancies, for babies
whose presentation or position obscure their heartbeat from a stethoscope,
or for babies whose heartbeat sounds abnormal through the stethoscope.
The 2 main methods for continuous foetal heart monitoring are a)
Externally via an
device attached to the mother's abdomen or b)
Internally by inserting an electrode through the mother's vagina and
attaching it to the foetus' scalp. The latter approach is reserved only
for the most high-risk pregnancies where very specific information is
needed and the .
Many doctors use one or another of these techniques for all deliveries
because 30 to 50 % of babies who develop problems or die during delivery
do so without warning. The major risk of this technique is that it seems
it provokes a higher rate of . Also the method seems to produce a high rate of false
positive signals, and a concomitant high number of thus, unnecessary
See also .
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
Care in Normal Birth: A Practical Guide. Report of a Technical Working Group,
World Health Organisation, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, 1999.
Bayfront's Health Adventure, A Woman's Way to Health: http://www.bayfront.org/
(def;articles & more)