Not so long ago, women and babies had very little protection during the labor and delivery process. Birth was incredibly dangerous for both mother and child. Thankfully, advances in medical science, as well as technology, can reduce the potential for injury and death during the birthing process. Of course, doctors and nurses actually have to utilize these tools properly for patients to benefit.
Fetal monitoring is one example of technology that protects both mother and child. Instead of progressing through labor and hoping the unborn baby is okay, it is now possible to monitor the infant and ensure that medical staff can intervene in a timely manner if the baby shows signs of distress. It is still possible for medical professionals to make mistakes when it comes to fetal monitoring, which can result in serious birth injuries.
Fetal monitors only work when properly maintained and checked
Fetal monitoring involves using a device, either internal or external, to track an unborn child's heart rate and responses to the mother's contractions. Changes or abnormalities in heart rate can alert staff to the potential for distress, which is often related to lack of oxygen to the infant. This lack of oxygen can result from pressure on the umbilical cord or other issues that occur spontaneously during labor.
These monitors provide an ongoing reading that staff can review to ensure that risk to the baby is minimal. Devices require careful maintenance and care to ensure proper function. Medical staff should also check the monitors routinely throughout labor to ensure they don't overlook signs of potential fetal distress.
It's also important to ensure that the monitor remains firmly in place throughout labor. Internal monitors involve an electrode inserted through the cervix. External monitors attach with a belt around the mother's stomach. The belts monitor both contractions and the baby's heart rate.
Monitoring tells doctors when they need to intervene for safety
The readings from fetal heart rate monitors help medical professionals notice right away when there's a risk to the infant. That allows them to quickly take action to prevent birth injuries or stillbirth. Typically, this means interventions up to and including Caesarian section to remove the baby and prevent injuries. Fetal monitoring can mean the difference between a healthy birth and a tragic outcome for a new family.
If a monitor isn't properly checked or fails to function correctly, that may result in doctors overlooking concerning signs of fetal distress. The end result can be an otherwise preventable injury to mother or child. In extreme cases, it can prove fatal. This kind of oversight and neglect could lead to medical malpractice claims against the doctor and medical facility involved in the birth.