Fetal monitoring involves checking the heart rate and other vital functions of the baby during labor and delivery. It is a useful tool to ensure that the fetal heart rate falls within the normal range of between 110 and 160 beats per minute. In cases where fetal monitoring shows an abnormal heart rate or rhythm it may indicate a lack of sufficient oxygen to the fetus or another potentially dangerous problem.
Obstetrical ultrasound is a safe, noninvasive procedure that uses sound waves to create images of the fetus, placenta and amniotic fluid. These images can be viewed in real time on a computer monitor by both patient and doctor. This procedure can be performed either transabdominally, which involves moving a transducer across the skin of the lower abdomen, or transvaginally, which involves inserting a transducer into the vagina and rotating it for a comprehensive view of the fetus and surrounding organs.
An obstetrical ultrasound is performed several times throughout pregnancy in order to monitor the growth and development of the fetus. During the first trimester, an ultrasound can determine the age of the fetus or screen for any potential birth defects, such as Down syndrome. Later in the pregnancy, regular ultrasound exams will measure the size and position of the fetus, placenta and amniotic fluid to ensure that there will not be any major complications during delivery.
Antenatal testing is a type of routine care during pregnancy that is performed to determine the presence of any abnormalities or potential complications that might have arisen. A variety of tests are administered during all pregnancies, but in high-risk patients additional antenatal testing may be required or the testing may take place more frequently.
Common types of antenatal testing typically include blood tests, chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis and ultrasound, but they are not all recommended for every patient. These screening methods are used to check the growth and development of the fetus as well as to detect certain birth defects and complications. Antenatal testing can provide patients with more information about the health of their babies than medical examinations alone.
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