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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.

If your pregnancy and labour are considered low risk, you will be offered intermittent auscultation. Your baby's heart beat will be listened to at least one minute every 15 minutes when you are in established labour and for at least 1 min every 5 min once you are in the second stage of your labour  or "fully dilated", meaning the neck of the womb is completely opened. This will be done using a hand held doppler. This method allows you to be more mobile during labour.

If you need additional monitoring, have an epidural or your pregnancy/labour are considered high risk, your baby’s heart rate will be continuously monitored. There is a wireless option for those who wish to remain mobile which we encourage.

Alternatively a clip is applied to your baby’s head to measure specific changes that happen within the babies heart (this is very similar to ECG’s for adults). This type of monitoring gives additional information on the wellbeing of your baby and will help to reduce unnecessary intervention. Your membranes (bag of waters) will need to be broken prior to application of the clip.





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