What fetal heart rate monitoring can – and can’t – tell us

The process of delivering a child can be very difficult because it comes with a lot of complications that can sometimes be life-threatening. The purpose of a doctor during the delivery process is usually to ensure that the mother and the child they deliver are safe and alive at the time the delivery process is complete. That is why there is a lot of monitoring that is done to the mother during the delivery process. In countries such as the US and Canada, mothers are usually hooked to machines that monitor the heart rate of the child and uterine contractions of the mother. Thu, the mother can walk around all they want, but the doctor will be getting all the data they need from the mother through sensors connected to their belly or vagina.

Let us look at what fetal heart Doppler readings tell us about the baby.
What can fetal heart rate monitoring tell us about your baby?

Fetal heart rate monitor is usually used to monitor the baby in terms of whether or not they are getting sufficient oxygen. The process of labor can be very stressful and can easily threaten the life of the infant if sufficient care is not taken by the doctor in charge. When a baby is being delivered, it is expected that their heart rate should range between 110 and 160 beats per minute. However, there are several reasons that can cause the heart rate to go above or fall below this range. The baby’s heart rate will often undergo short bursts of acceleration, which indicate that they are getting enough oxygen. Similarly, the heart rate of the baby can also decrease briefly and that should be expected when the child is pressed in the birth canal.

Is something wrong?

The decreases and accelerations in heart rate discussed above are expected to occur at specific stages during the process of birth. They should occur within the right stage and for a specific period of time and if they are prolonged, it could mean a number of things. One of the reasons the decreases and increases could be prolonged is when the umbilical cord is unable to supply with the baby with adequate blood because it is compressed. When this happens, there are a number of steps that the doctor may take and one of them may be as simple as changing the position of the woman on the bed.

If the situation is prolonged beyond a tolerable time frame, the doctor may be forced to perform an emergency cesarean section or operative vaginal delivery.

Limitations of fetal heart rate monitoring

Statistically, the popularity of fetal heart rate monitoring only grew in the last few decades. However, even though monitoring is used heavily, there is no decrease in risks and deaths caused by lack of oxygen during birth. However, there has been an increase in interventions when doctors are concerned that the baby is facing danger.