Not everyone feels the same about fetal monitoring.
Some mothers think that fetal heart monitoring is not needed and interferes with the natural birthing process.
Other mothers think that fetal heart monitoring is reassuring. This may be true if they had problems with earlier pregnancies.
Fetal monitoring can't predict every type of problem, such as birth defects. Normal fetal heart monitoring test results do not mean that your baby is healthy.
Continuous monitoring during labor is more likely to be useful for high-risk pregnancies. Intermittent fetal heart monitoring during labor is as effective as continuous monitoring in low-risk pregnancies.
If your baby appears to be having problems, sometimes a blood sample is taken from a small blood vessel (capillary) in his or her scalp. The blood sample can help determine if your baby is receiving enough oxygen.
Your baby may move more if you eat or drink juice before having a nonstress test. This may make the test results more useful.
Sometimes other methods (such as ringing a bell near the uterus) are used to cause changes in your baby's heart rate.
External fetal heart monitoring is used during other tests of fetal health, such as a nonstress test, contraction stress test, and biophysical profile.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2009). Intrapartum fetal heart rate monitoring: Nomenclature, Interpretation, and General Management Principles. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 106. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 114(1): 192-202.
Other Works Consulted
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Management of intrapartum fetal heart rate tracings. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 116. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 116(5): 1232-1240.
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerWilliam Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine