What Is a Baby Heartbeat Monitor?


Quick Answer

A baby heartbeat monitor is a tool that allows parents and doctors to keep track of a baby's heart rate during pregnancy and labor. Measuring a baby's heart rate during labor is a way to monitor how well the baby is doing during the procedure, or if there are potential problems. There are both external and internal monitoring methods to measure a baby's heartbeat.

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What Is a Baby Heartbeat Monitor?
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Full Answer

A baby's heartbeat can be monitored externally during pregnancy through the use of a special stethoscope. It is more common, however, to measure a baby's heartbeat through the usage of two sensors that are held in place by elastic belts at the mother's belly during labor. One sensor uses ultrasound to track the baby's heart rate, while the other helps measure how long a contraction is lasting. Both sensors send data that is recorded inside a machine.

Internal monitoring of a baby's heartbeat can only be done in labor when the mother's cervix has dilated to approximately 2 centimeters and the water has broken. Internal monitoring is a constant process and uses a sensor electrode that is inserted into the mother and attached to the baby's scalp. Compared to external monitoring, internal monitoring provides more accurate data.

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