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This is the general condition of the fetus. If the fetal wellbeing is good during pregnancy the fetus should grow and develop normally. With good fetal wellbeing the fetus should be able to tolerate the normal stresses of labour and delivery. It is important to monitor the fetal condition both during pregnancy and labour to assess the fetal wellbeing.
The fetus is monitored clinically by assessing fetal growth and fetal movements:
Fetal growth is assessed by determining the increase in the size of the uterus. From 18 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, this is done by measuring and plotting the symphysis-fundus height.
Fetal movements are assessed by the mother. All mothers should be aware of the importance of normal fetal movements.
The presence of a fetal heartbeat confirms that the fetus is alive. However routinely counting the fetal heart rate at antenatal visits is of very little value if the fetus is growing and moving normally.
The clinical condition of the fetus during labour can be monitored by:
The fetal heart rate is used to monitor the condition of the fetus during labour.
A woman is in labour when she has both: