Keeping pregnant moms moving during labor - Dr. Anne Bingham

Anne Bingham, MDThe day has finally arrived.  You’ve been pregnant for months and now you’re in labor! You get to the hospital and are set up in your private room. A nurse assesses how your labor is progressing and attaches detectors to your belly to monitor your contractions and the baby’s heart rate. Wires lead from the detectors to a computer that registers this vital information.  In the past, being connected to this monitoring system limited a laboring woman’s ability to walk and move much beyond the hospital bed. New technology enables signals to be transmitted wirelessly, making it easier for women to get moving during labor.

Read on to learn more about how your donation to the Women’s Wellness Fund will help women remain mobile during labor with a new wireless fetal monitoring system.

Q. Why do we use a monitor on pregnant women at the Hospital?

Anne Bingham, MD, Crescent Street OBGYN (AB): We use monitors in labor for several reasons. First we are looking at the heart rate pattern of the baby and we are watching the baby's response to its environment with the added stress of contractions. This is helpful in determining whether a baby is tolerating labor. We use the monitors continuously or intermittently depending on how a mother's labor is going. We are also watching the pattern of contractions, which helps us understand how a woman’s labor is progressing. 

Q. How will this new wireless fetal monitor work?

AB: Wireless monitoring works as a Bluetooth technology. The monitor can be read long distance without being attached to a machine with wires. This allows the mother to be out of her room for the benefit of ambulating while still giving us the information we are looking for about the baby's well-being and her contraction pattern.

Q. Why is it important to walk around during labor if you can?

AB: Ambulation and activity can benefit a mother’s labor both by accelerating her contractions and helping the labor progress as well as providing some helpful distraction.

Q. What are the challenges of being attached with wires to the monitoring system (large or small)?

AB: Our typical monitors involve long cords that attach mom to the computer. These long cords are a hindrance to a patient's ability to move within her room. Ambulation is therefore very short range and even getting to the bathroom can be a nuisance. Wireless monitoring in comparison is such a liberating concept and allows a woman to feel less interfered with while still allowing us to have access to important information.

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