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Monitor Fetal Heart Rate to Prevent Birth Disorders

Naturally, parents want to find out what the normal fetal heart rate is. Unfortunately, until now there is no provision regarding how much normal heartbeats in the womb.

Although there is no mutual agreement, international guidelines state that the recommended normal fetal heart rate is 110-150 beats per minute or 110-160 beats per minute. But on the other hand, a study states that the normal fetal heart rate ranges from 120-160 beats per minute. The data itself was obtained from a 2000-2007 study in Germany.

The Importance of Monitoring Fetal Heart Rate

Fetal heart rate needs to be monitored, especially during labor and shortly after the baby is born using special equipment. The purpose of this monitoring is to help detect changes in heart rate patterns during labor. A pattern of heart rate that is too fast or too slow indicates the possibility of problems with the fetus, such as lack of oxygen.

When a change in heart rate pattern is seen, treatment steps can be taken to anticipate or overcome the source of the problem, and determine the best delivery method for the fetus.

Methods for Monitoring Fetal Heart Rate

Based on the tools used, there are two kinds of ways you can monitor fetal heart rates, namely:

  • Auscultation

The first way to monitor fetal heart rate is by auscultation, which uses a special stethoscope. This method is safe because of minimal risk or side effects. By relying on a special stethoscope, doctors can hear problems related to fetal heart rate. With this method too, several things related to the heart that can be heard such as how the fetal heart sounds, how often it beats, and how loud it beats.

  • Electronic fetal heart monitoring

The second way to monitor fetal heart rate is with an electronic monitor. This tool will be used during pregnancy until when the baby is born. In addition to monitoring the fetal heart rate, this tool is also useful to determine the strength and duration of uterine contractions. There are two ways to use electronic monitoring tools, including:

  • External monitoring, which is monitoring using a Doppler ultrasound to check whether the fetal heartbeat is too fast or too slow. If needed, the doctor can also do a test using a censored belt to count the number of times the fetal heart rate accelerates for 20 minutes. When you want to give birth, your doctor can also use a device called cardiotocography (CTG) to determine the fetal heart rate and the pattern of maternal uterine contractions.
  • Internal monitoring, which is monitoring that can only be done if the amniotic bag has broken. Internal monitoring is done by inserting a censored cable into the uterus through the vagina. This cable is what will be attached to the fetal head to measure his heart rate. After installation, monitoring will be carried out continuously.

Just because the fetal heartbeat pattern is abnormal, does not mean it is immediately stated that the prospective baby has certain health problems. The doctor will need observations from various other tests, to ensure this. If the doctor has found a health problem, the next step is to find the cause. If the disorder can not be overcome and can interfere with the birth of a baby, then usually the baby will be born immediately by cesarean section, vacuum extraction, or forceps.



  1. Von Steinburg, et al. NCBI (2013). What is the “normal” fetal heart rate? PeerJ.
  2. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist ACOG (2018). Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring During Labor.

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