Fetal Heart Monitor
A baby’s heartbeat, known as the fetal heart rate, a baby’s heartbeat is typically between 110 and 160 beats per minute during late pregnancy and labor. The fetal heart rate should be between 120 and 160 during the second trimester and may reach up to 180 beats in the third trimester. Your doctor may use internal or external devices to monitor the fetal heartbeat. Some examples include an ultrasound device, a monitor attached to the baby’s scalp, or even a special cardiograph.
A good heartbeat is a vital thing for both the mom and the fetus. The doctor will see for the fluctuations in the heart rates to keep an eye on any changes which may occur so that these signs do not put either the baby or the mother at physical risk. The signs can also prompt the doctor to take sudden measures to restore the safety of the fetus and the mom.
What Is Fetal Heart Monitoring?
Fetal heart monitors are used to measuring the rate and rhythm of a fetus’s heart. They also provide an estimate of fetal well-being by presenting these measures relative to others that are being monitored at the same time in a large research database. The monitors that doctors use can measure heart rate, heart rate variability, accelerations, and decelerations. This test is performed by the doctors at a later stage in the pregnancy. Doctors perform the test when they are concerned about the health of your baby, especially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or any condition that could cause problems for you and your baby at birth. So it tells about the conditions and performance of the fetus.
Importance Of Fetal Heart Monitoring
Fetal heart monitors use the steady beat of a fetus’s heart to provide an indication of its health. Doctors will use it during pregnancy to monitor fetal heart health and condition. The same can be used by the doctors in the following mentioned conditions:
- During routine prenatal appointments: Ultrasound technology has become an important tool for the healthcare professional who is monitoring a patient’s pregnancy. During routine prenatal appointments, the healthcare professional can use an ultrasound device to briefly monitor the fetus’s heart rate.
- To monitor for specific concerns: If you are pregnant and experiencing troubling symptoms, your doctor may recommend the use of heart monitoring to assess the well-being of the fetus. These exams can also be used to determine if preterm labor medications affect the fetus.
- During high-risk pregnancies: The fetal heart monitor is a device used during pregnancy to detect potential complications such as distress in the unborn baby. During high-risk pregnancies, if a person is at high risk of health or birth complications, a doctor may use a fetal heart monitor to detect signs of distress as early as possible.
- During labor: During labor, your doctor will use an electronic heart monitor to make sure that the fetus is doing well during labor and birth. This allows your doctor to be aware of any changes in fetal heart rate patterns and breathing patterns throughout the process.
There are several risks that can increase the chances of a high-risk pregnancy. Some of the risks include:
- If the person is suffering from health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or HIV.
- If the mother is overweight or has obesity, even this can result in high-risk pregnancy.
- If the person is having multiple births, for instance, twins or triplets then this kind of situation can lead to preterm birth to premature labor.
- If the mother is young or older than 35 years then also, they might face problems during pregnancy as they can have preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure
Most people with a high-risk pregnancy do not go on to end up in the hospital, or even need to be followed closely. Your age and body weight should play an important role in discussion with your medical provider about fetal monitoring, but they will also want to get your opinion and feedback as well. So, it is important to talk about these risk factors with your doctor.
Types Of Fetal Heart Monitors
Doctors can use two types of fetal heart monitors to monitor your baby’s heartbeat. Fetal heart monitors can be external (typically connected to the mother) or internal (placed on the belly, in a scrotum bag, or between the legs). Both types are common and medically accurate. Talking about these two in the detail we can say that:
- External Devices: A Doppler ultrasound device is an external monitor that uses sound waves to detect a fetus’s heartbeat. To check the heartbeat, a doctor places an ultrasound probe against a person’s abdomen and moves it around, producing a heart-shaped rainbow on an image screen of the unborn child. The fetal heart monitor is a medical device that monitors the fetus’s heart rate during labor. It is applied to the mother’s belly and looks like an external fetal monitor. You can use a fetal monitor during childbirth to record the fetal heart rate and alert your doctor to any changes that could indicate distress and tell about how the baby is developing. If you want to be able to monitor the speed of your baby’s heartbeat, you can use a Doppler ultrasound device at home. However, this device only gives you information regarding the rate at which the heart is beating. You should only rely on this kind of information when you have a medical need.
- Internal Devices: Internal heart monitors are used in hospital settings. The device attaches to the person’s chest and continuously measures the pulse of the infant’s heart. Multiple internal monitors may be used in tandem, which can allow the healthcare provider to take a number of readings at once. To measure the pressure of your uterus, a healthcare professional will insert a catheter through your cervix. By placing an electrode on the fetus’s head and measuring pressure between the uterus and other organs in the body, they can create an accurate image of how well your baby is developing. Use internal monitors to detect fetal movements and heart rate. These sensors are safer than external monitors because they do not require gel pads and do not transmit any radiation during use, which can be harmful to mom and baby. The fetus’s movements do not affect this type of monitor, which makes readings more accurate.
Is It Good To Use Fetal Heart Monitor At Home?
The FDA and the National Health Service (NHS) advise against using at-home Doppler machines. This is for several reasons, including the following:
- Health effects: Ultrasound devices can heat tissues and create tiny air bubbles inside them. Scientists do not know if this has any long-term impact on health. Also, whether the small size (the size of a grain of sand) of these air bubbles causes any health effects remains unclear.
- Inaccuracy: There are several doppler ultrasound machines used for pregnancy diagnosis. Each gives slightly different results, but most say that the speed of the fetal heart rate is an accurate indication of health. However, people using at-home devices may get inaccurate results, which could pose a risk to their pregnancy. Additionally, a normal fetal heart rate does not always mean that a fetus is healthy.
- Stress: If a person uses an at-home device and cannot hear a heartbeat, they may worry unnecessarily about the health of the fetus. This can cause avoidable stress and anxiety. Additionally, couples without maternal intuition are less likely to use this type of prenatal device or attend classes at the hospital.
If you are trying to test your baby’s heart rate, or risk a medical emergency, it is important that you speak with your doctor first. Home fetal heart monitors can be inaccurate and may not provide accurate readings. Receiving heart monitoring from a healthcare professional can prevent any risk of inaccuracy and worry. If a person is considering trying an at-home fetal heart monitor, it is important that they speak with a doctor first. If one still insist on using at home then the person should keep in mind that:
It is difficult to listen to the baby’s heartbeat using the hands before 14 weeks of pregnancy. If a person can listen to their own heartbeat, it could be from their heart or an artery in the abdomen. The same goes for the placenta as well: there is a pulse that makes it like listening to two heartbeats.
Fetal Heart Rate App
There are many risks associated with using fetal heart rate monitoring devices, even for people who are not pregnant. Mobile apps might seem like a safer alternative to at-home Doppler devices, but they come with their own risks. Mobile apps have little regulation from health authorities. Some of them also inaccurately tell you about your fetus’s heartbeat, which could cause you to wrongly think that your pregnancy is healthy, which may mean you do not seek help from a doctor or midwife when the best decision for your health is to have an abortion.
Other Ways To Monitor Fetal Health
There are some safer ways for people to get an insight into their fetus’s health at home, without the risk of having to head to the hospital. These include:
- Fetal Movement Counting: During the early weeks of pregnancy, a person may feel swirling or fluttering movements. As time goes on, they will notice more pronounced kicks and jerky movements. Fetal movement counting, or kick counting, involves setting aside time each day to monitor the rhythm of these movements. Most people can feel a fetus’s movements after 20 weeks. These movements should continue throughout the pregnancy until giving birth.
- Fetoscope: Fetoscopes are like Doppler machines, but they have different shaped earpieces which do not cover the entire ear canal. Fetoscopes also tend to detect a baby’s heartbeat at 20 weeks, rather than 14-16 weeks like with Doppler machines. However, like with a Doppler machine, you should not panic if you do not hear a heartbeat – feel the baby moving, or have other signs that the pregnancy is progressing normally.
When To Speak To Doctor
If you notice any of the following changes, you should contact your doctor right away:
- The movement of the fetus is less than usual.
- No movement at all.
- Different movement patterns.
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