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  1. Torres, Jennifer PhD
  2. De Vries, Raymond PhD
  3. Low, Lisa Kane PhD, CNM, FACNM


Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) is used for the majority of births that occur in the United States. While there are indications for use of EFM for women with high-risk pregnancies, its use in low-risk pregnancies is less evidence-based. In low-risk women, the use of EFM is associated with an increased risk for cesarean birth compared with the use of intermittent auscultation of the fetal heart rate. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the existence of evidence-based information on fetal heart rate monitoring in popular consumer-focused maternity books and Web sites. Content analysis of information in consumer-oriented Web sites and books was completed using the NVivo software (QRSinternational, Melbourne, Australia). Themes identified included lack of clear terminology when discussing fetal monitoring, use of broad categories such as low risk and high risk, limited presentation of information about intermittent auscultation, and presentation of EFM as the standard of care, particularly upon admission into the labor unit. More than one-third of the sources did not mention auscultation, and conflicting information about monitoring methods was presented. The availability of accurate, publically accessible information offers consumers the opportunity to translate knowledge into the power to seek evidence-based care practices during their maternity care experience.