Electronic fetal heart monitoring is a test that is done at different stages of your pregnancy including during labor and delivery to monitor the health of your baby. Thanks to this test that measures the heart rate of the baby and the contractions of your uterus, doctors will be able to tell a great deal about whether or not there are some problems with the baby’s health. It is available in two types: external and internal. Here at our office, like in many Des Moines OBGYN, you could learn about this procedure, its benefits and its risks.
It refers to placing two sensors on your belly, one of which is used to measure the baby’s heartbeats and another to measure the intensity and frequency of your contractions. It can be done anytime between the 20th week of pregnancy until the time of your delivery. It is used in two cases:
- Nonstress test: to simply evaluate the baby’s heartbeat when it is moving versus when it isn’t. They could add an ultrasound to a nonstress test to measure the level of amniotic fluid.
- Stress test: records the changes to your baby’s heart when you are having uterine contractions, which is used to determine how well your baby can handle labor stress.
Thanks to external monitoring, doctors will be able to better estimate your baby’s heartbeats, your contractions intensity during delivery. It is also used to determine if your baby is getting enough oxygen and if it is growing properly, especially if you are past the 41 week of pregnancy.
It is only done after you are in labor when the cervix has dilated past 2 cm and the amniotic water sac has already ruptured and until your delivery is completed. It is more accurate because the sensors are placed in your uterus and attached on to the baby’s head.
While fetal heart monitoring is usually considered a safe procedure, some research suggests that it may increase the chances of cesarean delivery. Furthermore, there is a slight risk of infection when performing internal monitoring.
Fetal heart monitoring cannot detect all the problems, so if the test results are deemed as abnormal, additional testing might be required. Like most Des Moines OBGYN’s we can offer you with more information on the risks and benefits. Contact us now.