Internal fetal monitoring is a way to measure the baby's heart rate and the mother's contractions during labor. Instruments used for the measurements are put into the mother's uterus (womb). One instrument is connected directly to the baby's scalp. The measurements are displayed as graphs on a screen.
Information about the baby's heart rate and how it changes with contractions helps your healthcare provider know how the baby is doing. This test also shows how strong and frequent your contractions are.
Another type of fetal monitoring is external. It uses instruments placed on the mother’s belly instead of inside the uterus. Internal and external monitors record the same information, but internal monitoring is more accurate.
Your healthcare provider may use internal monitoring if:
The membrane and fluid surrounding the baby (often called the bag of water) must be broken to put the instruments into the uterus. For this reason there are times when your healthcare provider will not use internal monitoring. You will not have internal monitoring if:
The instruments used are a fetal scalp electrode and an intrauterine pressure catheter.
If the baby’s heart rate is not normal your healthcare provider may:
Fetal monitoring allows your healthcare provider to check the baby's response to contractions and labor. If the baby is not doing well, steps may be taken to help the baby.
The following possible complications from this test are rare: