Telemetry for Fetal Monitoring

Telemetry is a form of electronic fetal monitoring without wires.  It uses the same sound wave technology as an external electronic fetal monitor to track the baby’s heartbeat. It can also be used for continuous fetal monitoring to keep a running record of the fetal heart tones.

The benefits of this form of fetal monitoring are that it allows the mother to have full mobility.  There are no wires to tether her to bed nor other interventions to restrict movement or comfort level. There is also no constricting belt around the abdomen to cause discomfort during contractions.

The main disadvantage of this method is lack of widespread availability.  It is not an option in a homebirth nor do many hospitals have it available.

Like the Doptone, it uses high-frequency sound waves to detect the heart tones, which have been shown in some animals to cause tissue damage.  There are no longitudinal studies to show its safety nor acceptable thresholds for exposure.

In addition, it reduces 1:1 monitoring in that a computer monitor will be used to track the labor progression, allowing multiple mothers to be assigned to one nurse.  This can actually increase rates of false alarms and lower detection rates of true complications that can only be assessed by actual patient contact.

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