15The Baby’s Heart Rate Could Drop
In many cases, a baby’s heart rate will be monitored during labor. The reason behind fetal heart rate monitoring is to allow the health care team to see how the baby is coping during delivery and to catch any potential problems. This type of monitoring during childbirth
has been used since the invention of the electronic fetal monitor (EFM) in 1958. While originally it was developed for high-risk pregnancies, today it is used to monitor almost all women giving birth to a baby in a hospital setting.
Some people define natural childbirth as having no medical intervention whatsoever, while others consider no medications as the definition of natural. Whatever the case, it is not uncommon for the baby’s heart rate to drop. For example, sometimes the umbilical cord gets stretched or compressed and that can cause brief drops in fetal heart rate. If a person is hooked up to an EFM, the machine will alert medical staff to the change and they will react quickly to determine if there is anything to worry about. In a strict natural birth there is no way to know for sure if the baby’s heart rate is normal the whole time or fluctuating during the labor process.