There will be a tocodynamometer placed on the top of your uterus. This is a device that is used to measure the length and frequency of your contractions. This type of device will not measure the strength of your contractions. If you have an internal contraction monitor placed, through your vagina, we can tell the actual strength of contractions of your uterus. You will also have a fetal ultrasound placed on your belly, where baby is located, and it also allows us to check on the baby’s heartbeat. During labor you will be on the fetal monitor at least 15-20 minutes every hour. When you have an epidural both the contraction and fetal monitor will stay on continuously due to the fact that you will no longer be getting out of bed. Uterine and fetal monitoring allows us to detect certain problems. If problems develop, the baby can usually be delivered before any damage occurs.
Sometimes your physician may decide to use fetal monitoring to see if your baby is doing well before you go into labor. This can be done at the office or the hospital. A non-stress test is done while you are resting. You are placed on both the contraction and fetal monitor and baby is watched for 20-30 minutes. Your physician will be checking for an increase in the baby’s heartbeat when you feel the baby move, this is a sign that baby is healthy in the uterus.
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