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Fetal Monitoring and Labor

Labor is an exciting, rewarding experience for both the mother and father. There is, without doubt, pain and stress on the mom. The fetus, in most instances, will tolerate labor well. However, there is an element of risk that cannot be overlooked. That is why all babies should be monitored while in labor.

The fetal monitoring measures a baby’s response to the uterine contractions. Your physician will be able to pick up any signs of stress or distress to the baby. There are two types of fetal monitoring:

• External — This is the most common. Two belt-like
devices are strapped to the uterus to
measure fetal heart rate and uterine

• Internal — Used when more accurate readings are
required. This is usually done if there is
a suspicion of fetal distress on the external

Your doctor should explain to you the reason he or she feels you need an internal monitor. Internal monitoring does not mean “caesarian section”. It means your baby needs close observation.

Many lives have been saved because of fetal monitoring, so do not be scared if you need one. You should be secure in knowing your baby is being closely watched.

Peter Weiss is a Beverly Hills-based obstetrician/gynecologist and leading advocate for mother’s-to-be. A member of the Royal Society of Medicine and an assictant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Weiss’ writing have appeared in numerous parenting publications nationwide.


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