Dr. Bruce Rodgers Responds:
During labor, twins are monitored in a similar way to singleton pregnancies. Fetal monitors assess fetal heart rate changes during labor and in response to uterine contractions. This gives important information regarding the baby’s health during labor.
Fetal heart rate monitors record the fetal heart in one of two ways.
The first is with an external monitor, which is similar to the instrument that your obstetrician uses to count the fetal heart rate during routine OB visits.
The second method is with an internal monitor by which a wire or electrode is attached gently to the baby’s scalp and the fetal heart rate is measured directly from a fetal electrocardiogram. Modern external monitors are very accurate, and accordingly, internal monitors are less frequently employed.
With twin pregnancies, external monitoring is generally performed since an internal monitor can only be applied to the twin that is lowest in the birth canal. With twins, two external monitors are placed on the mother’s abdomen overlying each twin. Modern fetal monitors can accurately and specifically record each twin’s fetal heart rate activity, which is recorded separately on the fetal monitor tracing. Thus, each twin can be monitored during labor.
– Dr. Bruce Rodgers
Dr. Rodgers is the Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Catholic Health and Director of the Fetal Testing Unit at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo.
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