What is a fetal heart rate tracing?

Posted on August 26, 2014

What is a fetal heart rate tracing?

The goal of fetal heart rate monitoring is to prevent fetal injury that might result from disrupted fetal oxygenation during or prior to labor.  Lack of oxygen to a fetus can cause significant brain damage, resulting in cerebral palsy.

Hospitals utilize either external monitoring or internal monitoring to measure how the fetus is reacting to labor.  It is a critical device used in the prevention of any birth injury. External monitoring utilizes two external transducers placed on the mother’s abdomen.  One transducer measures uterine contractions; the other measures the baby’s heart rate.  Internal monitoring requires the placement of a spiral electrode directly on the fetus’s scalp to measure the baby’s heart rate and placement of an intrauterine pressure catheter to measure uterine activity.

Both internal and external monitoring produce a fetal heart rate tracing that displays and records the fetal heart rate and contractions for evaluation.  This allows the healthcare provider to assess how the baby is reacting to labor and whether there is concern that there is a shortage of oxygen.  It also allows the healthcare provider to take corrective measures to ensure the safety of the mother and the fetus.

The medical malpractice lawyers at G. Eric Nielson & Associates utilize fetal heart rate tracings as a valuable tool to determine if medical health care providers utilized sufficient corrective measures during labor to prevent a fetal brain injury caused by lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during labor and delivery.  If you suspect your child suffered from a brain injury during labor and delivery, please contact G. Eric Nielson & Associates without delay.

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