Being pregnant for the first time is a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Sure, there are frequent pre-natal visits, but some mothers would like to monitor their babies on their own. As early as 20 weeks, mothers can use at-home heart rate monitors (like the BabyBeat Fetal Doppler) to listen to their baby’s heart and ensure that there is adequate oxygen flow and no troubles in the womb. Purchasing a baby monitor system like this is very expensive ($499!), so it’s recommended that expectant mothers rent one ($24-$49/month) instead.
A baby heart rate monitor is available in external and internal types. Using an external baby monitor system during pregnancy will report the baby’s heart rate, measure the duration of contractions, tests for infant stress and evaluate amniotic fluid levels. This type of baby infant monitor may be a stethoscope, two flat elastic sensors or an ultrasound machine. Sometimes the information is heard as a beeping sound, while other times, a chart reading is printed out. Heart monitor readings are a great way to ensure the health of the baby and sense uterine contractions during labor.
Baby heart rate monitors can also be internal. Usually the internal baby monitor system is only used when complications arise during labor. Once the mother’s cervix has dilated at least two centimeters and the amniotic sac has ruptured, continuous internal monitoring is done to find out whether the stressfulness of labor is threatening the baby’s health and also to measure the strength/duration of labor contractions. To do this, an electrode is inserted in through the vagina, cervix, uterus and to the baby’s head. Chart print-outs and beeping sounds let doctors and nurses know exactly what’s going on during this urgent time.
To prepare for heart rate monitors testing, mothers may be asked to eat a meal shortly before the non-stress test because food digestion will increase the baby’s movements. Conversely, contraction tests may require mothers to abstain from eating or drinking 4 to 8 hours prior to monitoring. Mothers who smoke will need to avoid smoking for two hours before the test because smoking decreases the baby’s activity. Doctors will check to see that the baby’s heart rate is between 120 to 160 beats per minute. If abnormal readings occur, sometimes ultrasound video monitors will be consulted and blood samples will be taken.
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