Options for Fetal Monitoring through Labor | You choose!
Of course your baby has to be monitored throughout labor. But, did you know you have OPTIONS?!
If you are experiencing a low risk pregnancy and birth, then you have not one but TWO options to choose from for monitoring your baby safely in labor. So my question for you Mamas today is.... What’s your preference?
1- Continuous Monitoring
This is the type of monitoring you see in the movies and you’ve likely experience yourself. Mom’s belly is strapped with two monitors, one monitoring contractions and the other baby’s heartbeat. These monitors *continuously* track baby’s heart rate and your care provider can see if from their computer live at any time. Continuous monitoring often requires mom to labor within a 6-feet-of-wires range, however many hospitals have started investing is wire-free continuous monitors! Be sure to ask for them if you are planning to move around in labor!!
PROs: Continuous monitors give us a second-by-second look at your baby’s heart rate. This is especially important if you are high risk or have received an epidural.
CONs: Often times the signal is lost as mom moves around in labor. A natural-birth friendly nurse will be very understanding of this and will come in and assist in getting the baby back on the monitor as often as it takes. However, we don’t always get this type of nurse and I have seen moms scolded for “moving too much” in labor and encouraged to stay in the bed to keep baby on the monitor.
Another CON that most of us are not even aware of is that using continuous monitoring in a low-risk labor actually INCREASES the likelihood of interventions being applied to the labor, instrumental deliver (think vacuum or forceps) and even cesarean section! All of these risks are increased without, in turn, decreasing the risk of fetal death.
2- Intermittent Monitoring
This is the type of monitoring that you often see in those sweet YouTube video births. Mom is encouraged to wear a gown or bra that allows her belly to be exposed while her midwife listens to the baby’s heart rate with a Doppler. Evidence says this should be done for at least two contractions every 30 minutes in active labor.
Here is the perfect laboring gown if your midwife is using intermittent monitoring:
PROs: Mom can move freely, walk, sleep or even be laboring in the birth tub while we listen as the midwife can follow her just about anywhere!
Also, intermittent monitoring is supported by evidence and is actually recommended by ACOG for low risk births as a way to reduce intervention during normal births!
CONs: My clients love intermittent monitoring... I had to scratch my head on a con for it. The only con I could come up with is that if continuous monitoring were to become necessary, out-of-hospital birthers would have to transfer to the hospital. In fact, I think the fact that continuous monitoring is out of the midwifery scope of practice speaks volumes on how safe intermittent monitoring is for low-risk birthing mamas!
If your midwife is using intermittent monitoring, she likely will want you hydrating well in labor too! If so, check out this Red Raspberry Leaf Tea LABORAID recipe!
Disclaimer: The information shared in this article is for educational purposes only. The educational content in this article is directed towards HEALTHY, LOW-RISK PREGNANT WOMEN AND THEIR HEALTHY BABY. The information shared is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor or midwife. Medical advice will not be given so please consult with your provider regarding your particular situation. ———————————
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