2.3.3 Measuring fetal heart rate
Use a fetoscope or stethoscope to listen to the fetal heart rate immediately after a contraction. Listening to sounds inside the abdomen is called auscultation. Count the number of fetal heartbeats for a full minute at least once every 30 minutes during the active phase first stage of labour and every 5 minutes during the second stage. If there are fetal heart rate abnormalities (less than 120 or more than 160 beats per minute, sustained for 10 minutes), suspect fetal distress and refer urgently to a health facility, unless the labour is progressing fast and the baby is about to be born. (You will learn about fetal distress in Study Session 4.)
Auscultation is pronounced ‘oss-kool-tay-shun’.