How Is The Baby Heart Rate During Pregnancy Monitored
Your healthcare provider may check FHR later in your pregnancy or even during labor. The heartbeat may change when conditions in the uterus change. One of these two methods may be used to monitor your baby’s heart rate.
- External Fetal Heart Monitoring: The procedure involves using a device called Doppler ultrasound to listen to the heartbeat of your baby through your belly. Your doctor may use the device during prenatal visits to ensure that your baby is growing healthily.
- Internal Fetal Heart Monitoring: The procedure involves putting a transducer on your baby’s scalp during labor to monitor heart rate. A wire, which runs through the mother’s cervix, is connected to a monitor and helps measure your baby’s heartbeat. It is usually a more accurate way of fetal heart monitoring because movement does not affect it.
Why The Test Is Performed
Measuring the pulse gives important information about your health. Any change from your normal heart rate can indicate a health problem. Fast pulse may signal an infection or dehydration . In emergency situations, the pulse rate can help determine if the person’s heart is pumping.
Pulse measurement has other uses as well. During or immediately after exercise, the pulse rate gives information about your fitness level and health.
When Heart Rate Or Rhythm Changes Are More Serious
Irregular heartbeats change the amount of blood that flows to the lungs and other parts of the body. The amount of blood that the heart pumps may be decreased when the heart pumps too slow or too fast.
Changes such as atrial fibrillation that start in the upper chambers of the heart can be serious, because they increase your risk of forming blood clots in your heart. This in turn can increase your risk for having a stroke or a blood clot in your lungs . People who have heart disease, heart failure, or a history of heart attack should be more concerned with any changes in their usual heart rhythm or rate.
Fast heart rhythms that begin in the lower chambers of the heart are called ventricular arrhythmias. They include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. These types of heart rhythms make it hard for the heart to pump enough blood to the brain or the rest of the body and can be life-threatening. Ventricular arrhythmias may be caused by heart disease such as heart valve problems, impaired blood flow to the heart muscle , a weakened heart muscle , or heart failure.
Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia include palpitations, feeling dizzy or light-headed, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, and fainting or near-fainting. Ventricular fibrillation may cause fainting within seconds and causes death if not treated. Emergency medical treatment may include medicines and electrical shock .
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
You May Like: Is Tylenol Bad For Your Heart
Problems With The Hearts Natural Pacemaker
A condition that doctors call sick sinus syndrome refers to problems with the natural pacemaker. Typically, another heart health problem, such as scar tissue in the heart, complications of diabetes, or coronary artery disease, causes these problems.
Irregular Heart Rate In Children: Types Symptoms And Risks
Our heartbeat has a rhythm to it. This rhythm keeps the heart healthy and functioning right. Sometimes, you may notice that a childs heartbeat is fast when they are sleeping, or that the rhythm may be irregular with the heartbeat being too fast or slow. Abnormal heart rate is not uncommon in children, but it can be a serious condition at times.
In this post, MomJunction tells you about heart rate in children, when it is normal and when abnormal, and how to deal with it.
Also Check: Can Ibs Cause Heart Palpitations
What Else Should I Know
Some smartphone apps can count a pulse by pressing a finger over the camera lens. For a good reading, your child needs to be very still, so this method works best in older kids who can cooperate. Some fitness and other smart watches can take a pulse too. Before using one of these, ask your doctor if it’s a good idea or if they recommend a particular heart rate app.
How Your Baby’s Heart Rate Changes
Though there are many words to describe the moment that you first hear your baby’s heartbeat, most people use words like galloping to describe how the heart rate sounds. While the heart rate in pregnancy is faster than an adult’s heart rate, the truth is that a normal fetal heart rate changes during the stages of pregnancy and throughout the day.
You May Like: What Causes Low Blood Pressure And High Heart Rate
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Arrhythmia
Arrhythmias make the heart beat less effectively, interrupting blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body. When the heart beats too fast, its chambers can’t fill with enough blood. When it beats too slowly or irregularly, it can’t pump enough blood out to the body.
If the body doesn’t get the supply of blood it needs to run smoothly, a person might have:
- chest pain
Arrhythmias can be constant, but most come and go at random. Some cause no detectable symptoms at all. In these cases, the arrhythmia is only found during a physical examination or a heart function test.
How The Fetal Heart Works
While the fetal circulatory system develops rapidly throughout pregnancy, it actually works quite differently in utero than it does once your baby is born.
Since babies don’t breathe in utero, the lungs dont actually function before birth. Until then, his developing circulatory system relies on the umbilical cord for a steady supply of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood. Umbilical arteries and veins transport what your baby needs from you to him, then carry unoxygenated blood and waste products back to you for removal.
Most of the physical differences between the fetal and adult heart serve the purpose of directing blood away from babys lungs, which simply arent needed in utero. The fetal heart has:
- Three shunts. These shortcuts direct blood away from the lungs and the liver.
- A ductus arteriosus. This fetal artery connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta . It detours blood away from the lungs in utero.
- A foramen ovale. This for-the-womb-only opening between the upper chambers of the heart again shunts blood away from the lungs.
Once your baby is born, all of these fetal differences start to go away or disappear completely. When the umbilical cord is cut, his lungs take in air, the fetal circulation system is switched off and the shunts begin to close. All systems are a go!
Recommended Reading: Can Dehydration Cause Increased Heart Rate
Listening To Your Baby’s Heartbeat
A major part of midwifery care during labour is listening to and recording your babys heartbeat to help identify if there are any problems.
Most babies come through labour without any problems, but there are a few babies who run into difficulties. The best way of finding out which babies are having trouble is to listen to every babys heartbeat regularly throughout labour.
How Do I Take A Pulse
To take your childs pulse, you will need a watch with a minute hand, or a stopwatch with the minutes and seconds displayed . Find a quiet place where your child can sit or lie comfortably.
If your child has just been active , wait at least 5 minutes to allow the heart time to slow down and return to a normal beat.
To feel a pulse, you press two fingers your index and middle fingers onto a major artery in the body. Press gently. Never press with your thumb, as it has a pulse all its own and can throw off a reading. When youve located the pulse, you will feel a throbbing sensation.
There are several areas on the body to read a pulse, but in kids these are generally the easiest places:
Once youve located the pulse , begin counting the beats within a 30-second timeframe. After 30 seconds, stop. Take the number of beats and double it. So:
- 45 x 2 = 90 beats per minute. The heart rate for your child would be 90, which is within the normal range for most kids.
If you dont feel comfortable taking a pulse this way, or have difficulty, there is another option. Many smartphone apps can give pulse readings simply by pressing a finger over the camera lens. For a good reading, your child needs to be very still, so this method works best in older kids who are more cooperative. Before using one of these, ask your doctor if its a good idea or if he or she recommends a particular heart rate app.
Recommended Reading: Can This 10 Second Trick Prevent Your Heart Attack
How Long Will My Preemie Need To Be On An Apnea Monitor
Preemies often outgrow apnea and bradycardia by the time they reach their full-term gestational age . Your baby will be monitored until she is no longer having episodes of apnea or bradycardia. The monitor records her events, and your doctor can print out a reading. Once your doctor sees that she has not had an episode in a certain length of time, she will be allowed to go off the monitor. The good news is that apnea in premature infants is not permanent. Once your babys lungs and central nervous system mature, the apnea will disappear and not return.
When Can You Hear Your Babys Heartbeat With Doppler
You’ll most likely hear your babys heartbeat with a Doppler at around the 12 week mark, but you may hear it as early as week 10. Your doctor or midwife will place this handheld ultrasound device on your belly to amplify the pitter-patter of the heart.
Keep in mind that experts including the Food and Drug Administration warn against using at-home fetal Dopplers unless youre under the supervision of a medical professional.
Thats in part because these devices arent as sophisticated as the ones that doctors use, so they may not pick up on a babys heartbeat leading to an unnecessary scare. Plus, it can be hard to use an at-home Doppler properly without training. You could, for example, mistake your own heartbeat for your babys.
You May Like: What Causes Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction
How Are Arrhythmias Treated
Common arrhythmia treatments include medicines, medical procedures, and surgery. Treatment is needed when an arrhythmia causes serious symptoms, such as dizziness, chest pain, or fainting.
Whats A Normal Heart Rate
A childs hearts normally beat faster than an adults. A healthy adult heart rate can range from 60 to 100 beats per minute during rest.
Kids heart rates can be as low as 60 beats per minute during sleep and as high as 220 beats per minute during strenuous physical activity. Its normal for athletic kids to have slower resting heart rates, often in the 40s or 50s.
Before taking your childs pulse, check with your doctor to see what range is considered normal for your child.
Don’t Miss: How To Calculate Target Heart Rate Zone
When To Call The Doctor
If your childs heart rate is within the normal range, you dont need to call the doctor . Theres also no need to call if the heart rate slowed down or sped up while you were taking the pulse. Some variation in speed is normal.
If your childs heart rate is above the normal range, or too fast to count, wait a little while and recheck it. It may return to a normal rate. If its still too high, call your doctor. If your child is having other symptoms in addition to a high heart rate, call 911 or drive your child to the nearest ER.
If you have any other questions about taking a childs pulse, call your doctor.
Reviewed by: Gina Baffa, MD, and Joel Temple, MDDate reviewed: January 2015
Note: All information on KidsHealth is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
When To Take A Childs Pulse
Usually, theres no need to take your childs pulse. Your doctor will check your childs heart rate at well checkups.
But if your child has a medical condition that requires you to monitor his or her heart rate, your doctor may have told you when to take a pulse. You might need to do it regularly, or only on occasion. If youre not sure, ask your doctor.
You also should take a pulse if your child ever complains of a racing heart or palpitations when it feels like the heart is skipping a beat. Some kids say this feels like a buzzing, beeping, vibrating, or fluttering feeling in their chest.
Other times to check a pulse include if your child:
- has trouble breathing that is not caused by asthma
- has skin that suddenly turns pale or grey, or has lips that are blue
If your child has any of the symptoms above, begin taking the pulse right away. Make note of the activity that caused the symptoms and be sure to tell the doctor.
Recommended Reading: Can Tylenol Raise Blood Pressure
What Happens If The Fetal Heart Rate Pattern Is Abnormal
You should not panic when you notice that baby heart rate during pregnancy is abnormal. This does not always indicate a problem. Your doctor may order other tests to confirm exactly what is happening.
If your doctor notices any abnormal pattern, he or she may first take steps to provide your baby with more oxygen. You can do it simply by changing your position. This alone helps resolve the issue in most cases. If the problem persists, they may order other tests to make a proper diagnosis. An early delivery is possible in case your baby really has a problem.
Whats A Normal Heart Rate During Labour
The normal range for a full term babys heart rate during labour is between 110 and 160 beats per minute . Higher or lower rates can be a sign your baby is having trouble coping with labour, depending on a number of factors.
There are several ways your babys heart rate is monitored:
- Doppler ultrasound: a small handheld tool placed on your belly, which transmits the fetal heartbeat.
- Fetoscope or Pinard: similar to the traditional stethoscope.
- Electronic fetal monitoring: two belts with small monitoring devices in them, which are placed around your belly this method might be used continuously or intermittently.
- Internal fetal monitoring: a small electrode is inserted into your babys scalp this can only be done once your water has been broken.
Most guidelines agree that intermittent monitoring should be done every 15-30 minutes during active first stage of labour, and every 5-15 minutes during second stage of labour.
Electronic fetal monitoring is used very commonly in most hospital settings. It can be used either intermittently or continuously. The recommended frequency for intermittent EFM is every 30 minutes during active first stage of labour, and every 15 minutes during second stage of labour.
Electronic fetal monitoring increases the likelihood of using vacuum or forceps during birth, and of c-section birth, and is not recommended for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
Recommended Reading: What Heart Chamber Pushes Blood Through The Aortic Semilunar Valve
Who Is At A Risk Of Developing Arrhythmia
Arrhythmia is more common in children with congenital heart diseases, narrow heart valves, family history of arrhythmia and other heart disorders. In the case of teenagers, lifestyle habits such as alcohol consumption, smoking, and illegal drug usage can also cause Arrhythmias.
Medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, , sleep apnea, etc. may also increase the risk of Arrhythmias.
Other things, such as heart surgeries, medications, or imbalance of certain chemicals, such as potassium in the body, can also lead to irregular heart rate in children. .
A Note On Terminology
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists cautions that the term fetal distress is imprecise and nonspecific. Instead, they recommend that fetal distress be replaced with nonreassuring fetal status , and that a babys status should be further categorized into three separate groups that describe the extent to which the baby is affected .
Regardless of what terminology they prefer, it is important that medical professionals be very familiar with specific warning signs of fetal oxygen deprivation in order to prevent permanent harm.
Recommended Reading: Heart Regulation Medication
How Is An Arrhythmia Diagnosed
Doctors use several tools to diagnose arrhythmias. It’s very important to know a child’s medical history and give this information to the doctor. The doctor will use the medical history, along with a physical exam, to begin the evaluation.
If an arrhythmia is suspected, the doctor will order an electrocardiogram to measure the heart’s electrical activity. For this painless test, the child will lie down and have small metal tabs fixed to the skin with sticky papers. The electrodes have wires attached to them, which connect to the EKG machine. The electrical signals from the heart are then briefly recorded, usually for just 10 seconds. This information is sent to a computer, where it’s interpreted and drawn as a graph.
These types of EKG tests might be recommended:
What’s A Normal Heart Rate
Heart rate is measured by counting the number of beats per minute. Someone’s normal heart rate depends on things like the person’s age and whether he or she leads an active lifestyle.
The resting heart rate decreases as kids get older. Typical normal resting heart rate ranges are:
- babies : 100150 beats per minute
- kids 13 years old: 70110 beats per minute
- kids by age 12: 5585 beats per minute
A doctor can determine whether a heart rate is abnormally fast or slow, depending on a person’s situation. An older child or adult with a slow heart rate, for example, might have symptoms when the heart rate drops below 50 beats per minute. But trained athletes have a lower resting heart rate, so a slow heart rate in them isn’t considered abnormal if it causes no symptoms.
You May Like: What Is An Unsafe Heart Rate