Electronic fetal monitoring, also known as cardiotocography, is used to detect fetal distress, usually as a result of oxygen deficiency. During labour, changes in the fetal heart rate in response to uterine contractions are recorded. An abnormal heart rate is a sign of fetal distress. If the fetus is distressed, a more accurate reading may be taken using a probe attached to the fetus’s head. A blood sample may be taken from the fetus’s scalp to check the level of oxygen. Monitoring normally takes place during labour but may also be used to detect problems during pregnancy.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.