Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring.

Clarification: (on this post.) I am NOT against all forms of fetal monitoring. I am against continuous electronic fetal monitoring— the kind that requires you to stay in bed. The kind that has been proven in study after study after study in the past two decades to have NO improvement in fetal outcome compared to the use of the humble fetoscope, and that, in fact, the machine is more likely to be wrong than a human ear.

The electronic fetal monitor expanded the nurse-to-mother ratio from 1:1 to 2:1… essentially now multiple mothers could be monitored simultaneously.

And, hello? It requires the mother to stay in bed! Birth demands movement. A woman moves and sways as her body tells her to- often automatically adjusting to beneficial positions for the current state of her labor without her even realizing it. The body is amazing!

No matter how you slice it, I’m against continuous electronic fetal monitoring.

Also- I don’t agree that you can ‘read too much’ or educate yourself too much. I feel like I’m only beginning, and even though some of this stuff can be overwhelming to think about, I believe it is my responsibility to really KNOW what me and this unborn baby are facing in birth. I want to bring this baby into the world in the healthiest way possible– without somebody deciding to break my water and strengthen my contractions or do major abdominal surgery when it’s not 150% necessary. And I need to know what constitutes “necessary” BEFORE I go into labor and have it essentially decided for me.

End rant.

16 thoughts on “Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring.

  1. Hi There,I found your blog through Jen Schlenker and I have so enjoyed reading. I'm about 21 wk. prego with my second and I had a c-section with my first because he was breach. I am really hoping to have a V-bac this time around, but have been really unmotivated to do a ton of research, so thanks for the tidbits. Although I have a child I'm a total newbie at L&D. Thanks for being so gracious with your previous post's comments, it really shows that you have a wonderful character!

  2. Hey katie! Thanks for your comment- and congrats on your pregnancy! I think it’s great that you are hoping for a vbac! In the mid 90’s, VBACs were much more accepted by the medical field- and moms were having a 75% success rate! Now, due to malpractice insurance companies essentially refusing to cover doctors who perform vbacs, it’s harder to find people who are willing to work with you… but they are out there! Good luck on your research, congrats again!

  3. I thinks its amazing that you have educated yourself so much! Keep going and follow your gut!! You know whats right for you and that precious baby. I love keeping up with your pregnancy, btdubs.

  4. Emery,I love your passion and interest into natural childbirth. I’ve begun my own little educational search into it! I have so many pregnant friends, and it’s scary to think of their labors in hospitals, in the hands of nurses who are making them lay down, feet in stirrups, episiotomy, pushing on their stomachs to get the baby out! EEEKK, I’m shreiking thinking about the horrors of it…when done naturally, it just isn’t like that. Obviously it isn’t w/out pain, but surely it isn’t a nightmare. Thanks for all of the info.– Megan

  5. Whew. Sorry I upset you. I wasn’t trying to say “stop reading” or whatever. I meant, go with what YOU feel is right. And yes, you have to stay put with them on. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at the last moment and that’s why I had to be monitored. I didn’t care for it, but at that point I was so scared that something would go wrong that I left it in the hands of the doctors and nurses. Good luck with your pregnancy and the birth!

  6. Jennifer- you didn’t upset me at all! I just believe in learning all you can… even if what you read is difficult to stomach.I’m sorry you had to be monitored so heavily, that must have been uncomfy- but it sounds like everything turned out great and Bayley is a healthy happy girl! And that’s the most important thing!

  7. you are cracking me up with how stirred up you are about this birth stuff! don't get me wrong, i don't think it's weird, i'm right there with you…i just can't say what i'm thinking quite as effectively as you my friend! i'm really excited that you are enjoying learning about the female body in birth and educating yourself (and so many others via the blog & conversations iwth you)…woo-hoo for informed birthing women!! :)

  8. I had lots of monitoring during my first pregnancy due to pre-term labor. And I had it during the actual labor too. I also had my water broke, got pitocin, got an epidural, shoved my baby out breach and had an episiotomy. Yeah some of it was uncomfortable, but um, natural childbirth isn’t exactly pain-free right? Sorta the point, as I understand it. So either way there’s gonna be pain and discomfort. Call me crazy, but I just took it in stride. I was grateful for the care I got and was glad to get 20 weeks of contractions finally over with. Maybe it’s because I never did a ‘natural’ birth, but I didn’t care too. I gave birth to a kidney stone once without any pain relief and decided before I ever got pregnant that I would take whatever help I needed or was offered. I wanted to be comfortable and taken care of and I was. Frankly, I’d do it the same way again if I had to. My baby got here safe and sound and I enjoyed the time with my family while I labored. For the record, too, you can feel to push with an epidural. I did and my kid was coming out backwards. I suppose I have a hard time understanding wanting to go through so much pain when relief is safely available, but that’s just me. My major issue with a lot of people who push ‘natural’ birth is the idea that women should be experiencing pain to do it the natural way. It’s all natural. Nature dictates that baby is coming out one way or another and pain relief isn’t gonna stop it. There is no other time in a woman’s life that anyone would tell her she should accept pain. Headaches are a natural occurence but no one has ever told me I shouldn’t do anything about it since it wouldn’t be natural. I suppose it’s easy for me to not understand the joy of natural childbirth since I’ve never done it. Then again maybe that’s why it’s easy for someone who hasn’t experienced the comfort of an epidural to not understand choosing that route or actually like being in a hospital. I felt safe there. If anything went wrong…everything was right there immediately. Not intending to offend or anything, just my point of view. Okay, since we’re on the topic of motherhood and everyone’s having fun being passionate…I vote the next topic is breast vs. bottle!! Just kiding:)

  9. EMERY! Have you watched “The business of being born” a documentary about L&D here in the US? You HAVE TO WATCH IT!! It is amazing and you would LOVE it! I so wish that I had seen it before all my kids were born!PS, the way you have kids, I'm thinking you should just have the baby at home. That would be my dream. Google it and watch it. I promise you won't be sorry. Kelly Briggs

  10. Hunny Bee- Totally makes sense. And can I just say that birthing a breech vaginally is rockstar awesome? I think it’s AMAZING you were able to do that- that you weren’t told you HAD to have a Cesarean in that situation- because most women are told that that is their only option with breech.I see the difference between our opinions pretty clearly: I totally agree with medical intervention when there is sickness, illness, distress, etc. (Not just in birth but in everyday life.) However, I truly don’t view giving birth to a baby as an illness– something to be numbed or cured or treated. I believe it is an amazing, God-given experience and that the pain is MORE than worth that experience. And I believe it can be done outside hospital walls. I do NOT believe, however, that the pain is what <>makes<> the birth “natural”. The naturalness of it comes from trusting your body to do what women’s bodies have been doing since the beginning of time… bringing life. In a low risk pregnancy and birth, I believe we should allow our bodies to do what they were created to do. Because there is a power in that… a power I didn’t understand until I went through it.Everyone is different, and I totally understand that what I’m saying here is not the “cultural norm” nowadays. 99% of births in the US are in the hospital. And I did give birth in a hospital last time around- just with a midwife attending. Birth has become a hospitalized event. I’m simply saying that most births don’t NEED the hospitals or machines! And I think that for the last century, that’s exactly what we as women have been taught to believe. And that makes me sad.

  11. I understand where you’re coming from. Birth has become a hospitalized event. I guess the nurse in me is okay with that though, at least for myself, because hospitals don’t feel scary or strange to me. I’m comfortable there because I know how the machines work, why they’re there and what they’re for. I would be scared at home, I think. And I definitely loved the epidural. My mom had me without pain relief and the look of relief on her face when she asked whether I was getting an epidural or not was all the reassurance I needed. All in all I guess my experience, while a bit complicated due to the breach situation was really positive…great doctor, great staff, I was comfortable and well cared for….it all just made sense to me and I was completely okay with the medical help. I didn’t feel pressured and I got to make whatever call I wanted. The induction, the epidural, the vaginal birth…all my call. No pressure from anyone. They stood there and waited for my decision and then got to work. The nurses left me alone unless I needed them and when I did they were there and on top of things. And I agree that birth is not an illness or disease, but even the symptoms of certain illness or diseases that are painful or uncomfortable come from our bodies compensating and working to fix the problem…ie my kidney stone working it’s way out. I actually took the natural way with that (!) and walked and paced for two days laboring to help it work it’s way out. Honestly, that’s the closest to ‘natural’ anything I ever intend to come! ;) I’ll stop talking about that now, too, since I’m sure I’ve shared too much already. All I can say is that I hope the next one (baby, not kidney stone) is that great (minus the breach of course). You’ve aroused my curiosity though, now, and I’m looking forward to hearing your side and experience as you go along. Please don’t leave out anything. As a future nurse I want to know how someone like you sees things. This has been incredibly helpful in that regard. Thanks for sharing and I also think you are very graceful in handling different opinoins on your blog. Hell, I think you’re brave just to bring this up!!!Anyhoodles, I’ve taken enough commenting space! Thanks for opportunity to share!

  12. i love how you’re the new advocate for natural childbirth and i dont have to explain these same things over and over (without really there being that understanding that i believe can only come from either truly being open and educating yourself or going through it) for a little while anyway. im sure i’ll be back in it sometime very soon.. haha… but its nice to read and see that you explain exactly what i would say, and i dont have to type it all. hahahhaha. but seriously.

  13. Hunny Bee-amazing that you vaginally birthed a breech baby! Many many people are c-sectioned for much less! You mentioned something that I can totally connect mentioned that just like you might never know the “joy of natural childbirth” the natural birther might not know the “comfort of an epidural”.I had an epidural with my first, and not with my second.I had no complications the first time, no complications from the epidural (that i knew at the time), loved the experience, thought it was fine and dandy….But after my second birth at home with no drugs at all–I have to say the experiences don’t even compare.I never knew or thought anything was missing from my first birth UNTIL I had my second daughter, and it was like a switch got turned and I was a new person. It is indescribable, and something I long for all women to feel, especially after having been on both sides now!I’m sure your experience with a breech baby is MUCH different than the norm–so I would say getting an epidural and being able to push out a breech baby is MUCH better than a csection! Seriously..way to go!I would also like answer quickly, the question as to why we would choose to birth naturally if pain medication is safely available.The truth is, (and I’m not trying to hurt feelings, so please don’t take it personally) is that there is NO SAFE medication. I posted some info awhile back on my blog about the drugs administered through an epidural, and they have all kinds of FDA warnings that people in the medical field DO NOT DISCLOSE.I think why we and so many others are so passionate about it, is that we feel women are only being told half truths. Yes, there are comfort benefits to epidurals, but there are great, great risks as well that all women need to at least know about.I don’t care what decision people make, as long as they know the facts ahead of time.How I feel about birth is this:Is an epidural/drugs perfectly safe for you and your baby? Nope. Not at all. Now that you are armed with that info, make your choice.That’s what made me do it natural with my second…the amazing experience I got was just a bonus!Not trying to stir the pot any further, just wanting to explain why we “natural birthers” do what we do.

  14. Oh boy are we mommies ever passionate about this!! Can I be honest and say I had my baby at home and the farther I get away from it the more I consider it the worst experience of my life??? My midwife was the most wonderful woman, very knowledgeable, etc, etc, and believe me I understand the “natural” way of looking at things, and I want every woman to choose what is deep her heart for her baby, BUT–my homebirth was horrible. Period. That being said I would LOVE to have emery help me birth, you a going to be awesome at that if that’s what you continue to persue.AND–thank you for being such an advocate for this cause, I do believe that for most women, haveing their baby at home or with a midwife is a good, healthy experience (if that is what they want to do!)

  15. I was Bradley educated and 100% set on doing a natural birth (in the hospital with a doctor who totally supported my decision) UNTIL my 9 pounder started making his way out sideways. Maybe all labor hurts that bad or maybe I’m a wuss – either way, I was very grateful for the epidural. It helped me remember what I was doing (having a baby, not dying a slow and painful death) and allowed me to enjoy the birth of my son (well, expect for the 2 hours of pushing). I was with you, Emery – a stalwart defender of natural childbirth. Now I don’t know how I feel. If we have another baby someday I have NO IDEA what I will do. Surrogacy sounds mighty nice!

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