monitoring baby during labour

By Dr Michelle LIM, Associate Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Labour is just as exciting a journey for your baby as it is for you. To ensure that your baby enters the world as smoothly as possible, your doctors may use different methods to keep a close eye on your little one during labour.

Why Do I Need Foetal Monitoring?

why do i need foetal monitoring

As your baby enters your birth passage, contractions in your womb help to guide and push your little one out. These contractions may occasionally impair the supply of blood and oxygen to your baby for a short time, which can be detected via foetal monitoring. If your baby doesn't react well to these contractions, your doctor may advise you to have a Caesarean delivery.

Related: Stages of Labour and Birthing Positions

What Does Foetal Monitoring Entail?

Your doctor will likely use a CTG also known as a cardiotocograph. Monitors will be attached to your belly via elastic straps, which will measure your baby's heartbeat as well as your contractions.

If the external CTG monitor has trouble picking up your baby's heart rate, your doctor may opt for a foetal scalp electrode (FSE). It's a thin wire, which is fastened to your baby's scalp via your vagina. Don't be alarmed, this procedure is usually painless for you and it won't leave any lasting marks on your baby's scalp.

Related: Monitoring the Baby During Labour

What Happens if the Monitoring Picks Up Anything Suspicious?

what happens if foetal monitoring picks up anything suspicious

Should your doctor have any concerns for your baby's wellbeing, you may be advised to undergo a Caesarean delivery.

What Other Monitoring Options May Be Used?

Your doctor will monitor the colour and consistency of your liquor (the water in your amniotic sac) during labour. For example, a thick, stained liquor could indicate that your baby has passed motion inside the womb and may mean that your baby is in distress and delivery will be expedited.

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Sources:

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore