To many expectant parents, the most exciting medical visits are the ones where the mother undergoes an ultrasound. They can hear the heartbeat of their unborn child or even get a glimpse of their developing body.
Parents have such emotional responses to these tests that they may forget that they are a part of ensuring the health and proper development of their child. Adequate monitoring by medical professionals is essential to the well-being of the developing fetus and mother.
Especially in the final trimester and the labor process, proper fetal monitoring can make the difference between a complicated but successful delivery and a tragedy. The family can suffer permanent consequences if medical professionals don’t monitor the unborn baby properly, like a lasting birth injury for the child.
What does fetal monitoring involve?
There are different ways for physicians to check in on unborn babies at different points in the pregnancy. Ultrasound is one tool to monitor fetal development and placement. They can even check the fetal heart rate with a stethoscope.
Once the mother displays certain complications or enters active labor, medical professionals will likely want to start monitoring the heart rate of both mother and baby. Ultrasound is less useful when there is very little unoccupied space in the uterus. Doctors instead rely on fetal heart rate monitoring.
This form of fetal monitoring during labor is especially important, as it gives medical professionals time to respond if the child goes into distress. An issue like placental abruption or a pinched umbilical cord could lead to permanent health issues like cerebral palsy. Only with timely intervention can medical professionals protect mother and child from birth injuries or even death.
Unfortunately, fetal monitoring is such a routine part of the job that nurses or other professionals may fail to take it seriously. They may not check the equipment properly or monitor the device’s report. They may fail to notice that the equipment is in poor condition or not operating properly.
Inadequate monitoring can lead to tragic outcomes and is completely preventable. A hospital investing in enough staff and ensuring proper attention to individual patients can prevent monitoring mistakes. Understanding the role of monitoring in the prevention of birth injuries may push some parents to seek justice over what may have been medical malpractice.