When Dr. Buhler enthuses about going mobile, she's not taking about her cell phone. Her goal is to make "mobile" fetal monitoring during labour available to any woman who needs it.
Instead of being tethered to a large, static fetal monitor, the labouring mom wears a waterproof wireless device that continuously transmits information about the baby’s heart rate and the strength of her contractions to a central monitoring station. The maternity care team can keep a close eye on her progress, but she is free to get out of bed, move around or take a soothing bath.
“Changing positions is the first comfort measure that a woman instinctively chooses,” Dr. Buhler says. “Care providers know that being mobile and active reduces complications, shortens labour and helps with pain control.”
She notes that mobile monitoring helps women at higher risk to have a better chance of having a normal birth. The concept is backed up by research showing that staying upright and mobile helps labour progress, decreasing the need for interventions like forceps deliveries or Cesarean sections.
As well as induction, one of the most common reasons for monitoring during labour is the administration of epidural anesthesia. Mobile monitoring is a good fit with the innovative “walking” epidurals that are provided by the Department of Anesthesia at BC Women’s.
With BC Women’s fully equipped with telemetry, 5,000 women a year will have access to mobile monitoring – a plus for women and their caregivers - at the same time promoting normal labour and birth. Dr. Buhler concludes. “a woman doesn’t have to sacrifice the comfort of moving around or being in the bath for the sake of monitoring the baby. Now we get to have the best of both worlds: technology and nature are in harmony here.”
Written by Anne MacLaughlin