Monitoring the baby's health during labour may include the following procedures:
Medical staff can listen to the baby's heartbeat with ultrasound.
Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring
Sometimes continuous electronic fetal monitoring is required, particularly if the mother's labour is being induced with Pitocin, or if there are concerns about the mother or baby. This helps monitor the baby's heartbeat and the frequency of contractions.
If there are concerns about the baby's wellbeing, a sample of its blood may be taken from the scalp and analyzed to ensure the baby is getting enough oxygen.
When Things Don't Go As Expected
Even after careful planning, you may still need some help in giving birth to your baby; especially if you have been in labour for a long time or if there are concerns about your or the baby's health.
In vaginal births, in which the mother requires some help to bring the baby through the last part of the birth canal, a vacuum or forceps may be used. This usually occurs after a long labour, when the mother is very tired or if there are concerns about the baby.
Caesarean (or c-section) is the surgical birth of a baby via an incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus.
The health care professionals involved in your care are there to provide medical support and a continuous, reassuring presence. Feel free to ask questions and voice your needs.
By Theresa Agnew, RN, BScN, BA (SDS) and Roseanne Hickey, RN, BN, MSc(N), IBCLC|March 12, 2007
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