Dr Emanuel Gracias explains the workings of the foetal heart monitoring device and its advantages
In the field of obstetrics and gynaecology there are quite a few new inventions that have made the whole pregnancy and birthing process much safer than it used to be. One such device is the foetal heart monitoring device.
Foetal Heart Rate Monitor or foetal Doppler machine ultrasound monitor is used to hear an embryo’s heartbeat during pregnancy and that of a foetus during labour. The procedure of foetal heart rate monitoring allows your doctor to gauge how fast or slow your baby’s heart is beating. If you are expecting a child, your doctor will want to check to make sure your baby is healthy and developing normally. Checking the rate and rhythm of your baby’s heartbeat is one of the ways to do this.
The vitals of a woman can be easily monitored during labour, but what about the baby? How do we know whether it is all safe and sound? The foetal monitor comes to aid during active labour.
The average fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute. It can vary by 5 to 25 beats per minute. The fetal heart rate may change as your baby responds to conditions in your uterus. An abnormal fetal heart rate may mean that your baby is not getting enough oxygen or that there are other problems.
The doctor is able to make an emergency decision and perform an emergency c-section if they get to know that the baby’s heartbeat is dropping or increasing. In medicine we term this as ‘foetal distress’.
Why Foetal Heart Monitoring is Crucial during the Labour Process
The writer explains the workings of the foetal heart monitoring device and its advantages
The traditional foetal monitor device that is commonly used by most hospitals uses Ultrasound Doppler technology that is used to hear an embryo’s heartbeat. This device does not allow the mother to be mobile as there are wires attached to the mother which makes it cumbersome to move anywhere. She would need help from the nurses or her partner every time she wanted to visit the washroom or move about.
The newer version of the foetal heart monitor is cordless and comes in a stick-on format where it can be attached to the mother with a disposable patch. This device can be easily attached and leaves no room for error. We routinely use this device at our hospital because it allows the women in labour to be more at ease while I can monitor the readings on an app which allows for quick decision making. It allows women in labour to have a little walk, visit the washroom, interact with family and even shoot a pregnancy reel to post on Instagram without lugging a heavy device and a set of wires with them.
Fetal heart rate monitoring is especially helpful in the case of high-risk pregnancies. A pregnancy can be high risk if the woman has diabetes or high blood pressure or if your baby is not developing or growing as it should. In such cases the use of this device can be a life-saver.
Every doctor wishes to offer their patients the absolute best birthing experience and that is only possible when a mother is allowed to be comfortable and enjoy her birthing experience.
The writer is an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gracias Maternity Hospital Margao. Email: email@example.com