Gestational Diabetes: Fetal Heart Monitoring

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Gestational Diabetes: Fetal Heart Monitoring

Topic Overview

Fetal heart monitoring in a woman who has gestational diabetes is a way to record your baby's heart rate and measure the frequency and duration of tightening (contractions) of your uterus during labour.

A fetal heart monitor is a machine with sensors that may be placed on your belly (external) or inside your vagina (internal). Internal monitoring is more accurate than external monitoring.

  • External monitoring uses sensors that are strapped with elastic belts around your belly. The sensors are connected to a machine that records your baby's heart rate and contractions of your uterus. If a non-stress test is being done at the same time, the baby's heart rate is recorded and you are asked to push a button to record every time you feel the baby move.
  • Internal monitoring can only be done after the bag of waters (amniotic sac) has broken (ruptured).
    • A Velcro strap with an attached sensor is wrapped around your thigh.
    • A thin wire (electrode) is guided through the opening in your cervix and attached to the scalp of the fetus.
    • The end of the electrode is then connected to the sensor on your thigh.
    • A long, thin tube that measures the strength and length of contractions of your uterus may be inserted alongside the baby.
    • The tube and electrode are connected to the monitoring machine that records the baby's heart rate and your contractions.

Related Information


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Last Revised February 10, 2010

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