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WHY DOES MY BABY NEED TO BE MONITORED DURING LABOUR?
Labour can be very stressful for you and your baby. During a contraction your baby is squeezed tightly in your uterus, which interrupts the blood supply from the placenta. This is completely normal and your baby is likely to cope well, but some babies can find it harder to cope.
If your baby hasn’t grown well during pregnancy, or if you’ve have pre-eclampsia, the stresses of labour can take more of a toll. There are ways to monitor your baby to ensure they stay healthy and safe during labour.
Your midwife will listen to your baby’s heartbeat during labour to see how well they’re coping or if they’re becoming too distressed, or not getting enough oxygen. If your baby gets too distressed you may be advised to have a caesarean section.
At your antenatal appointments your caregiver will listen to your baby’s heartbeat using a hand-held ultrasound machine. It is an essential part of your care to listen to your baby’s heartbeat during labour, but it shouldn’t interfere too much with your comfort. You will need to stay still for a minute or so while the midwife listens.
Your midwife will monitor your baby every 15 to 30 minutes after a contraction when you’re in established labour. Then she’ll do it after each contraction or every five minutes once you’ve reached the pushing stage. This is called intermittent auscultation.
If you’re have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and are healthy, you will probably only need monitoring during labour using this method.
If you have had health concerns during your pregnancy, your labour may be constantly monitored using a cardiotocograph or CTG. This is called electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) or continuous CTG monitoring.
You will likely be offered EFM if you have been experiencing complications in labour or if you have any prior health conditions that carry a high risk.
EMF will usually be offered if:
- Your water breaks more than 24 hours before your labour starts
- You have pre-eclampsia
- You have had a caesarean in the past
- Your BMI is higher than 40
- Your baby is in the breech position
- You are aged 42 years or older
- You baby is being born before 37 weeks of pregnancy
- Your baby is being born after 42 weeks of pregnancy
- You have diabetes
- Your baby is smaller than expected
- You are expecting twins or more
An EFM may also be advised during labour if:
- Your waters contain any meconium
- You develop a high temperature
- Your labour is taking too long to progress
- Your midwife identifies any problem with your baby’s heart rate
- You have fresh bleeding during labour
- Your labour is sped up or induced with a synthetic hormone
If you have an epidural during your labour, your baby will need to be monitored continuously for 30 minutes or more from when the injection is inserted. They will then be monitored after each time the epidural is topped up.
You can still choose to be continuously monitored, even if you labour is trouble free.
If you have any further queries, our friendly team at My Obg will be happy to assist you. Call us on (03) 9731 1006 or email us at email@example.com