Monitoring your baby in labour

Your midwife will check on how your baby is coping during your labour and there are different ways to do this.

Woman in labour.

Sonicaid

If you have had a normal, healthy pregnancy with no problems so far, the midwife will listen to your baby's heartbeat using a Sonicaid. This is the small, hand-held machine the midwife or doctor used to listen to the baby during your pregnancy.

Cardiotocograph (CTG) or Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM)

Sometimes CTG or EFM is used to monitor your baby's heartbeat continuously. The machine also records when you are having contractions. This means you'll need to wear two belts around your bump to hold the monitoring devices in place.

In some hospitals, you might be able to move around with the belts on or use a wireless monitoring system (telemetry).

Fetal blood sampling (FBS)

If the midwife or doctors are worried about your baby's heartbeat from looking at the CTG, they may do an FBS test as well. This shows how your baby is doing more accurately than just the CTG.

A small amount of blood is taken from your baby's scalp, via your vagina, to check the oxygen levels. If the oxygen levels are low, the medical team may suggest a caesarean.

Fetal scalp electrode (FSE)

An FSE is a small electrode that is attached to your baby's scalp. It is sometimes used with the CTG machine if the belts on your tummy don't pick up her heartbeat properly. The FSE is harmless, but it's harder to move around with it in place.

Read more

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    What to do when labour starts

    The moment has arrived. Your contractions are regular and building up, and your baby is really on his or her way…

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    Symptoms of labour

    From contractions to your waters breaking, these are the typical signs that your body is getting ready for labour.

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    Can anything bring labour on?

    The waiting game can be torturous. Your due date has been and gone, you feel the size of a mothership and you’re oh so tired of waddling to the loo every five minutes.

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    Pain relief in labour and birth

    There are quite a few pain-relief options available and it’s good to know what they are before you go into labour.

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    Assisted birth

    Even if labour has got off to a good start, it can sometimes slow down or problems may arise. If so, you may need some help to deliver your baby safely. These procedures are called ‘interventions’.

  • caesarean section

    Caesarean section

    A caesarean section is an operation where an obstetrician makes a cut in your stomach and womb and lifts your baby out through it.

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    Induction of labour - information about having labour induced

    In most pregnancies, labour will start on its own but in some situations your labour may need to be started artificially. This is called 'induction’ of labour.

Sources

  1. NICE (2014) CG 190 Intrapartum care: care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/chapter/1-recommendations#third-stage-of-labour:1.10.8 
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Last reviewed on September 2nd, 2016. Next review date September 2nd, 2016.

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