Your midwife will monitor you and your baby regularly throughout labour to make sure you’re both okay and everything’s going as it should.
Regular checks can help to pick up any potential issues early.
Your midwife will check:
You may be offered a vaginal examination. This is to check how far dilated your cervix is, the position of your baby’s head and how far down the birth canal it is.
Measuring your baby’s heart rate is a good way of checking their health and strength throughout labour and birth.
If you have any complications, continuous monitoring of your baby’s heartbeat may be suggested.
There are different ways to monitor baby, including:
EFM uses ultrasound waves to hear your baby’s heart. Your midwife uses a machine called a transducer, held against your abdomen or a small electrode clipped onto your baby’s scalp or bottom if your baby’s breech.
EFM monitors your baby continuously. For some babies this can be very important – if they are at risk or if it’s known that there may be an issue.
In many hospitals midwives agree that continuous EFM is not needed for normal labour, especially in the first stage.
Sometimes a Doppler or Pinard stethoscope is used instead.
This makes use of the same sort of transducer or scalp electrode as EFM, but sends radio signals to a receiver.
As you’re not actually attached to the monitor by wires, you can move around if you stay within its range.
Telemetry isn’t available everywhere.
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3 November 2023