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Fetal monitoring is important during labor

A woman who goes into the hospital thinking that she is in labor expects that she and her child will be cared for properly while she is there. This includes monitoring the fetal heart rate. This is very important because there are signals that might be present in the heart rate that would let doctors know that the baby is in distress and must be delivered right away.

There are two ways that hospitals can monitor the baby's heart rate. One of these is by hooking the woman up to a monitor that will keep track of the baby's heart rate on a continual basis. The other is that the woman might be monitored periodically. While some doctors prefer the continual monitoring, some women don't like being hooked to a monitor. Balancing the woman's wishes with the needs of the unborn baby can be difficult; however, most mothers will opt to put their baby's needs first and just deal with the monitors if there is a medical necessity.

When there are issues with the baby's heart rate, the top concern is trying to determine what is going on. In some cases, having the woman change positions might be all that is needed to help the baby. In other cases, a surgical delivery or assisted delivery is necessary.

When the hospital personnel don't monitor the woman properly or they don't read the monitoring properly, the mother and baby can suffer. In severe cases, the baby can die. If a woman or her unborn baby suffer because of improper fetal monitoring, she might opt to seek compensation for the damages that occurred.

Source: American Congress of Obstetricans and Gynecologists, "Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring During Labor," accessed Dec. 29, 2016

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