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Fetal monitoring, Premature fetus, Premature labor



  1. Simpson, Kathleen Rice PhD, RNC, FAAN


The purpose of this article is to discuss special challenges in monitoring the preterm fetus during labor, review implications of preterm fetal heart rate (FHR) patterns, and highlight appropriate nursing interventions that contribute to the best outcomes for mothers and babies. With the current incidence of preterm birth, monitoring the preterm fetus during labor is a common perinatal nursing responsibility. Most of the published research on this topic was conducted in the 1980s; there has been little attention to FHR monitoring during preterm labor in recent studies. There has been much more accumulated evidence about antepartum testing techniques involving electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) for the preterm fetus in contrast to FHR patterns during labor. Thus, this is an area of opportunity for nursing research. The perinatal nurse has a key role in promoting positive outcomes when caring for women during preterm labor. The condition of the fetus during labor and birth has a significant impact on the likelihood of survival and the odds of developing serious complications of prematurity.