Wireless heart monitors improve labor experience for expectant mothers


by Baylor Scott & White Health

Jul 20, 2018

When the joyous day arrives, and it is time to deliver a baby, the number one priority of a mother is to successfully bring her child into the world. During labor, fetal heart rate monitoring is one of the critical ways both mom and her medical team can closely observe a child’s vitals.

Many women in labor find traditional monitoring techniques inconvenient and confining. Today, an innovation of wireless fetal heart monitoring is offering mothers freedom and mobility, as well as the peace of mind knowing we’re watching their little one’s heartbeat every step of the way.

Why is fetal monitoring important?

Before diving into the exciting topic of wireless fetal monitoring, let’s first talk about the importance of fetal monitoring. I will agree, like any good thing, sometimes it’s used too much. As a labor and delivery nurse for 16 years, I’ve done a lot of fetal monitoring. There are days I go home and hear the “thump, thump, thump” of the monitors in my sleep!

For women in labor, the standard of care across the nation is to obtain a 20-minute reassuring fetal heart rate strip to:

A. verify that the baby’s oxygenation status is good

B. capture a baseline for what the heart rate looks like at the beginning of the labor process

If the heart rate looks reassuring, then the need for fetal monitoring depends on the patient’s medical needs and the circumstances surrounding her labor experience.

While fetal monitoring is important, it is not needed for everyone. If a mom in labor does not need any medical intervention and wants an unmedicated delivery, then as long as the initial fetal heart rate tracing looks reassuring, continuous monitoring is not needed.

However, if the mom requires any intervention, such as pain control medications, or has any complications, we must monitor how it’s affecting the baby as well as the mom in order to provide the safest care possible. In this case, fetal heart monitoring is critical for both mom and baby.

The best of both worlds

As with any birth story, everyone comes with their own set of needs and concerns. All birth stories are unique because every labor journey is unique.

Due to the fluctuations that can occur during labor, there are times that continuous fetal monitoring is an absolute must in order to provide the safest care to moms and babies. But the traditional monitors can be a nuisance to moms who desire an unmedicated delivery or moms who want to rest in early labor. For many moms, this is a time where the ability to move about is so important.

Fortunately, now there is another option that offers the best of both worlds: wireless heart monitors.

Baylor Scott & White Health is able to offer women the opportunity to labor with wireless fetal monitors. This allows us to monitor the baby while mom is in labor and still give her the opportunity to move about freely. Moms who desire an unmedicated delivery but require intervention, such as augmentation, or have an increased risk of C-section can now labor without the physical limitations of traditional fetal monitors.

However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind about wireless fetal monitoring. The monitors were designed for patients with an increased BMI (body mass index). Therefore, those patients would be the first to use the monitors when they are available.

You should also be aware that these monitors will not work effectively in one out of 10 women and cannot be used on any mom who has any sort of implant. The monitors are only approved for use on term, singleton pregnancies.

Improving the labor and delivery journey

Wireless fetal monitoring is just one of many ways that we are working as a team to help women navigate their labor journey at Baylor Scott & White.

As a labor nurse, I love being able to offer as much autonomy as possible to any mom. Our life experiences change us, and as a nurse it doesn’t take long to have an experience that changes the way you practice. The deliveries that I’ve been involved in have impacted me greatly and now dictate how I practice nursing with every patient I encounter.

I’ve seen over and over again — and experienced for myself — the intensity of labor and understand the importance of mobility. Wireless fetal monitoring provides moms with the care they need and the convenience they want in their labor journey.

Learn more about Labor and Delivery care at Baylor Scott & White Health.

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