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Your baby's heart monitoring in labour

Your baby’s heart will be monitored throughout labour. Your midwife will watch for any marked change in your baby’s heart rate, which could be sign that the baby is distressed and that something needs to be done to speed up the delivery. There are different ways of monitoring the baby’s heartbeat:

  • Your midwife may listen to your baby’s heartbeat intermittently, but for at least one minute every 15 minutes when you are in established labour, using a hand-held ultrasound monitor. This method allows you to be free to move around. This will be offered if you are low risk and all is well in labour.
  • Your baby’s heartbeat and your contractions may also be followed electronically through a monitor linked to a machine called a CTG (cardiotocography) – the monitor will be strapped to your abdomen on a belt. There is also a wireless version of this available to enable you to move more freely.
  • Alternatively, a clip can be put on your baby’s head to monitor their heart rate – the clip is put on during a vaginal examination and your waters will be broken if they have not already done so. Ask your midwife or doctor to explain why they feel that the clip is necessary for your baby
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