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Fetal Monitoring: Fetal Heart Rate Variability

Our goal: a safe path for a healthy, happy baby!

Hi, Dr. Jim here, talking with you today about fetal heart rate. This is the third of a five-part series on fetal monitoring. Why we do it, and what we see. It’s my way of saying to mom, dad and the unborn baby, let’s make certain that you have healthy, happy outcome by better understanding what fetal monitoring is; why we use it and what we do when we see problems in it.

Normal baby heart rate is 110 to 160 beats per minute. That’s what we like to see, remembering of course that normal adults are 70 to 80 beats per minute.

Within that 110 to 160 range, the baby’s heart rate should vary between six to 25 beats per minute. Every baby has a baseline rate, and above and below that baseline rate, midwives & doctors like to see 6 to 25 beats per minute – that’s normal.

If the baby’s heart rate varies below that – meaning it varies less five beats per minute – that gives us some concern and prompts us to investigate why that may be.

On the other hand, if varies greater than 25 bpm – beating rapidly up and down, that suggests possible stress or distress as well.

Just like when you’re under stress your heart rate goes up, so does a baby’s. In fact, that’s the mirror that we use – the reflection that we use – to determine whether or not a baby, during labor and delivery, may or may not be having unusual stress or distress and if we need to act upon it.

Caregivers may not need change anything, but the indicators are there, and they certainly deserve careful observation; looking for things like meconium (a baby’s first bowel movement) or maternal fever; looking for vaginal bleeding; wondering if the uterus is contracting too frequently or too intensely, and what other conditions we may need to modify to improve fetal well-being. It may be simple, like changing mom’s position to improve blood flow or more complex like utilizing an ultrasound to measure amniotic fluid or insertion of an IUPC, which I discussed in Uterine Contractions Part Two.

Stay tuned for my Fetal Heart Rate Part Two discussion and don’t forget to subscribe to  Be Healthy! Be Happy! News. This is Dr. Jim. Power your path to happiness!

The full-length YouTube video on the entire third segment:  Fetal Monitoring: Fetal Heart Rate can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdLX0lM2m-c&t=26s