Continuous Fetal Monitoring Unnecessary In Low Risk Pregnancies

Continuous Fetal Monitoring Unnecessary In Low Risk Pregnancies

Most births take place in hospitals now and that means women have easier access to medical equipment and professionals.

Whilst this is a great thing in high-risk births, it’s not necessarily so good for women who are having normal, healthy pregnancy and births.

Easy access to medical procedures can increase the risk of unnecessary medical interventions during birth.

As part of an NHS cost-saving move, medical experts were asked to list unnecessary medical procedures performed by doctors in their speciality.

Electronic fetal monitoring was found to be unnecessary for low-risk women. The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology state that continuous monitoring should only be used for women who have an increased risk of complications during birth. For low-risk women, continuous monitoring is not beneficial.

Continuous electronic fetal monitoring is often used during hospital labours to keep track of the baby’s heartbeat. It requires you being strapped to a machine which can limit your freedom to move.

It is widely known that active birth reduces the risk of intervention, so restricting movement during birth can increase the likelihood of further medical intervention.

Bear in mind, if you have an induction of labour, or other interventions such as an epidural, you will be classed as high risk and need to be monitored.

This is because these interventions can impact your baby, including their heartrate and how they cope with labour. Find out about how inductions of labour impact a baby.

Continuous Fetal Monitoring – Unnecessary In Low Risk Pregnancies

A Cochrane review found that continuous fetal monitoring did not improve fetal outcomes and is associated with a significant increase in instrumental birth and c-section.

Low-risk women can instead opt for regular fetal monitoring with a doppler during labour, this will usually be performed for a minute every 15 or 20 minutes and will allow you to move around freely the rest of the time.

Though introduced as a cost-saving measure for the NHS, this move demonstrates using evidence based practice and will serve to protect women from unnecessary intervention during birth.

The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology also advised that additional ultrasound scans were not necessary for women having big babies unless gestational diabetes had been diagnosed.

Modern medicine saves lives and has increased survival rates for both mothers and babies, but it has also come at a cost. For women having low-risk pregnancy and birth, there are now a worryingly high number of medical interventions which could be seen as unnecessary.

Just because you have something available to you, it doesn’t mean you need to use it.

Hopefully this cost-saving push will lead to better outcomes for mothers and babies as hospitals become more savvy about how medical procedures are used.

The recommendations are part of the Choose Wisely campaign which aims to encourage patients and doctors to think carefully before opting for medical procedures which may be unnecessary. You can find out more about the campaign and see the full list of recommendations here.

Recommended Reading: Check out BellyBelly’s list of 10 Procedures You May Want To Reject During Pregnancy.

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Fiona Peacock CONTRIBUTOR

Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.


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