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Active labour for mums-to-be thanks to wireless monitors


Mums-to-be having their babies at the John Radcliffe Hospital Women's Centre can be upright and mobile during labour while their baby(ies) are being monitored.

Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust has become the only centre in the Thames Valley to offer wireless baby heart monitoring to all women on their Delivery Suite. They have received 15 new telemetry/mobile electronic fetal monitors (EFM) - one for each birthing room.

Consultant Midwife at Oxford University Hospitals, Wendy Randall, said: "Being active during labour is very important as gravity plays a vital role in childbirth; additionally by being upright and mobile women's experience of pain is greatly reduced. These new wireless machines are also waterproof which means that women can use the pool or shower with the reassurance of having their baby(ies)'s heart rate(s) monitored."

For some women it is important to make a fuller assessment of the baby(ies)'s heart rate during labour and it is recommended that the baby(ies)'s heart rate in continuously monitored. This produces a visual picture of how the baby is responding to labour and can alert the midwife to how the baby is tolerating the contractions.

The heart rate monitoring is performed by attaching wide stretchy bands that hold two electronic disks to the woman's abdomen. In traditional monitors, the disks used to be connected by cables, however this limited women's mobility to the machine and women often reporting feeling restricted to the bed.

The new wireless EFMs can enhance the experience of labouring mothers without sacrificing essential fetal monitoring required by clinicians. They allow women to move freely during labour and offer them flexible birthing options.

Ms Randall continued: "Thanks to this new technology, we can offer a better experience to women whose babies need to be continuously monitored.

"We have had a few wireless monitors in the past but there weren't enough to enable all women to have this option. It is so exciting to have enough monitors to offer active labour to every mum-to-be coming to the Delivery Suite. The new wireless EFMs have been in use for just two weeks, and women have reported that they love the freedom these monitors give them."

For more information about labour with wireless EFMs, watch this video on YouTube:

New birthing experience for mothers, OB clinicians and midwives – video

To learn more about giving birth with Oxford University Hospitals, visit the Labour and birth area on our Maternity Services website.

Pictured: Midwife Hazel Threlfall, OUH Clinical Manager of Delivery Suite