Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring

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What is fetal heart rate monitoring?

Fetal heart rate monitoring is a process in which the health/condition of the fetus (unborn baby) is checked using a device called a fetal monitoring device. It measures the baby's heart rate using which the doctor can monitor the health of the baby.

What are the different types of fetal monitoring?

Fetal heart rate monitoring can be classified into two types: external monitoring and internal monitoring.

External monitoring: In this method, a device is used to record your baby's heartbeat through the mother’s belly. It can be done using a fetoscope (similar to a stethoscope) or Doppler (which uses sound waves and the readings are displayed on the monitor).

Internal monitoring: In internal fetal monitoring the healthcare provider uses an electronic transducer which is connected directly to the scalp of the baby or other body part through the cervical opening and the readings are displayed on the monitor. This test helps in evaluating the baby’s heart rate.

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What is a normal heartbeat rate for a baby during pregnancy?

The average fetal heart rate is between 110 - 160 beats per minute. The fetal heart rate can change depending on how your baby responds to conditions in your uterus. An abnormal fetal heart rate means your baby is not getting enough oxygen, or there might be some other problems.

Why is fetal heart rate monitoring done during labour and delivery?

Fetal heart rate monitoring helps detect if the fetus has any severe medical conditions so that the healthcare provider can take any necessary steps beforehand. It will also help the health care professional know if it is safe to continue with the labour if there are no other problems.

How is external monitoring performed?

In external fetal heart rate monitoring, a pair of belts are wrapped around your abdomen to detect the fetus's heartbeat. One belt uses Doppler (transmits sound waves through your abdomen) to detect the heart rate. The other belt measures the distance between the contractions of the fetus and the time between them, which is then displayed on the monitor.

How to get ready for fetal monitoring?

You are asked to have a full bladder for external fetal monitoring during pregnancy, although there is no restriction on the food or drink you can have. During labour the doctor will inform you earlier if any preparations are needed.

Does low fetal heart rate mean miscarriage?

A low fetal heart rate CAN be an early sign of fetal miscarriage if the fetal heart rate is lower than 100 beats per minute (also called Fetal Bradycardia). The risk of miscarriage increases from 5 to 21%.

What heart rate is too low for a fetus?

If the heart rate drops below 100 beats per minute, it is considered a low fetal heart rate, also known as Fetal Bradycardia. It can arise due to several reasons such as conduction abnormality, cordocentesis, vagal cardiovascular reflex.

Is 180 bpm too high for the fetus?

The normal fetal heart rate is 110-160 beats per minute, while Fetal Tachyarrhythmia is a medical condition in which the baby's heart beats abnormally fast. In this condition, the heart beats at over 200 beats per minute.

What is a normal baby heart rate at eight weeks?

The normal heart rate for the first 6-8 weeks (first trimester) is around 110-170 beats per minute, while the median heart rates can vary from 110-180 beats per minute.

How to know if the baby is getting enough oxygen in the womb?

A baby born with oxygen deprivation can be blue at birth and can have no breathing sound, no cry, or a low heart rate. A baby deprived of oxygen before birth has too much acid in the bodily fluids, along with brain damage or damaged organs.

Can you feel a baby heartbeat at two months?

Using an ultrasonography, a fetal heartbeat can be first detected as early as 5½ to 6 weeks after gestation. But after 6½ to 7 weeks after gestation, a heartbeat can be better assessed.

What foods increase fetal heart rate?

The essential minerals that impact the fetal heart rate are calcium, copper, phosphorus, and thiamine. Foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and dairy products are rich in these minerals.

Is it ok to use a fetal Doppler every day?

Using a fetal doppler for a few minutes once every 14 or 30 days shouldn’t cause any harm to your baby.


  1. Why is fetal heart rate monitoring important?

During pregnancy and labour, it is very important to monitor the fetal heart rate to determine the baby's health. This facilitates early medical measures to avoid problems by detecting indications of foetal distress, such as hypoxia.

  1. When is fetal heart rate monitoring typically performed?

Fetal heart rate monitoring is usually performed during labour and, in high-risk pregnancies, occasionally in the late third trimester or when there are worries about the foetus's welfare to ensure the baby is managing.

  1. What are the different methods of fetal heart rate monitoring?

Two methods of fetal heart rate monitoring are internal monitoring, which involves putting a foetal scalp electrode right on the baby's head, and external monitoring, which uses Doppler ultrasound instruments to assess heart rate via the mother's abdomen.

  1. What is internal fetal heart rate monitoring, and when is it used?

When external measures are insufficient or not working, like in the case of high maternal BMI or extensive foetal movement, internal monitoring is used because it yields more precise measurements. It is usually used when working actively.

  1. What can affect the readings of a fetal heart rate monitor?

Various factors can affect the reading, such as uterine contractions, foetal position, maternal mobility, obesity, and technological problems such as signal interference or incorrect positioning of monitoring devices.

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