What is Fetal Heart Monitoring?

What is Fetal Heart Monitoring?

Fetal Heart Monitoring is the way that the doctor or yourself may use to monitor the health condition of the fetus by listening to the fetal heart rate (FHR) and keep track of it (the fetal heart rate of the baby/fetus) during the pregnancy, labor and delivery. Two main methods of fetal heart monitoring can tell you whether the fetus in the uterus is doing well or may have some problems.

What are the different types of fetal heart monitoring methods or devices?

Fetal heart monitoring can be categorized as external and internal methods.

The external fetal monitoring can be performed by a stethoscope and Fetal Heart Doppler. A Fetal Heart Doppler measures FHR through continuous ultrasonic waves and thus helps people determine the situation of the fetus. Fetal Doppler gives a clearer heart beat of the fetus than the stethoscope and can detect and pick up the fetal heart beat after 8 weeks gestation with 2MHz & 3MHz probes. The fetal Doppler with 2MHz probe works better for overweight women or women in the third trimester of pregnancy. The reflection of a 3MHz probe is better than the lower frequency 2 MHz except in above conditions.

When we are monitoring fetal heart rate with a Fetal Heart Doppler, an average normal fetal heart rate should be between 120-180 BPM (Beats Per Minute). If the heart beat is not within the range, then the fetus may be in abnormal condition, such as cord compression, fetal hypoxia, fetal distress and fetal heart block etc. If you are monitoring the fetus heart rate yourselves and notice abnormal heart beats, please see your healthcare professionals ASAP.

Fetal Heart Doppler works well as an external method of monitoring. Scientific research shows that, the ultrasonic fetal Doppler does no harm to mothers and the fetus if it is used for not more than 10 minutes per session.

There is another method of fetal monitoring called internal monitoring. This can be done only after the water is broken. In this method, an electrode is attached to the baby’s scalp during delivery so that the fetus’ heartbeat can be heard and printed out on a chart. It is a totally different method with different principles.

Despite that internal monitoring is more accurate than external method, its use is limited to hospital and healthcare professionals due to its difficulty and possible complications involved.

How many types of fetal Dopplers are there?

There are two different types of hand-held Fetal Dopplers, analog and digital. The analog fetal Doppler emits the audible sound of the fetal heart beat without a digital display. A digital Doppler is equipped with a small LCD screen which gives FHR during the test. The digital Doppler display provides a range between 50-210 bpm.


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