Your baby's heartbeat will be monitored frequently during labor. This may be done by external fetal monitoring, utilizing two belts placed around your abdomen. Another option, internal fetal heart monitoring utilizes a thin wire that is gently inserted into the scalp of the fetus to monitor the heartbeat. There is a slight risk of infection or bleeding with this procedure. Internal fetal monitoring devices may be used at the discretion of your physician or midwife and will be discussed with you if the need arises.
Other tools to check your baby's well-being include a fetoscope (a stethoscope specially designed for this purpose) and an ultrasonic doppler, which can magnify the baby's heartbeat. Both devices are used externally and will not cause any discomfort to you or your baby.
Internal uterine monitoring may also be recommended by your doctor or midwife. The strength of your contractions is monitored via a narrow soft catheter that is inserted through the vagina.