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Electronic Fetal Heart Monitoring

What To Think About

  • 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.

Other Places To Get Help

Organization

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
Web Address: www.acog.org

Related Information

Citations

  1. 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.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Current as of January 14, 2014
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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