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3C

Skills: Recording observations on the partogram

Contents

Objectives

When you have completed this skills chapter you should be able to:

The partogram

The condition of the mother, the condition of the fetus, and the progress of labour are recorded on the partogram.

Figure 3C-1: An example of a partogram

Figure 3C-1: An example of a partogram

Recording the condition of the mother

A. Recording the blood pressure, pulse and temperature

The maternal blood pressure, pulse and temperature should be recorded on the partogram.

B. Recording the urinary data

  1. Volume is recorded in ml.
  2. Protein is recorded as 0 to 4+.
  3. Ketones are recorded as 0 to 4+.

Figure 3C-2: Recording maternal blood pressure, pulse, temperature and urine results on the partogram

Figure 3C-2: Recording maternal blood pressure, pulse, temperature and urine results on the partogram

Recording the condition of the fetus

C. Recording the fetal heart rate pattern

The following two observations must be recorded on the partogram:

  1. The baseline heart rate.
  2. The presence or absence of decelerations. If decelerations are present, you must record whether they are early or late decelerations.

D. Recording the liquor findings

Three symbols are used:

I = Intact membranes.

C = Clear liquor draining.

M = Meconium-stained liquor draining.

E. How often should you record the liquor findings?

The recordings should be made:

  1. At the time of each vaginal examination.
  2. Whenever a change in the liquor is noted, e.g. when the membranes rupture or if the woman starts to drain meconium-stained liquor after having had clear liquor before.

Figure 3C-3: Recording the fetal heart rate pattern and the liquor findings on the partogram

Figure 3C-3: Recording the fetal heart rate pattern and the liquor findings on the partogram

Recording the progress of labour

F. Recording the cervical dilatation

Cervical dilatation is measured in cm and then recorded by marking an ‘X’ on the partogram.

G. Recording the length of the cervix

The length of the cervix (effacement) is recorded by drawing a thick, vertical line on the same part of the chart that is used for the cervical dilatation. The length of the line drawn indicates the length of the endocervical canal in cm. It is drawn on the chart whenever the cervical dilatation is recorded. Alternatively, the length of the endocervical canal, measured in cm or mm, can be noted in the space provided.

H. Recording the amount of the head palpable above the brim of the pelvis (descent and engagement)

The findings are recorded by marking an ‘O’ on the partogram.

I. Recording the position of the fetal head

The position of the fetal head is recorded by marking the ‘O’ with fontanelles and the sagittal suture. Alternatively, the position can be noted (e.g. ROA) in the space provided. This is recorded at every vaginal examination.

J. Recording moulding of the fetal head

The degree of sagittal moulding (i.e. 0 to 3+) is also recorded on the partogram.

Figure 3C-4: Recording the cervical dilatation, cervical length, the amount of fetal head above the brim, position of the head and moulding on the partogram

Figure 3C-4: Recording the cervical dilatation, cervical length, the amount of fetal head above the brim, position of the head and moulding on the partogram

K. Recording the duration of contractions

The duration of contractions is also recorded on the partogram. The block is stippled if the contractions last less than 20 seconds (i.e. weak contractions), the block is striped if the contractions last between 20 and 40 seconds (i.e. moderate contractions) and the block is coloured-in completely if the contractions last more than 40 seconds each (i.e. strong contractions).

L. Recording the frequency of contractions

The number of contractions occurring in 10 minutes is recorded by marking off one block for each contraction, e.g. two blocks marked off equals two contractions in 10 minutes, four blocks marked off equals four contractions in 10 minutes, and five blocks if five or more contractions in 10 minutes.

Figure 3C-5: Recording the duration and frequency of contractions on the partogram

Figure 3C-5: Recording the duration and frequency of contractions on the partogram

M. Recording drugs and intravenous fluid given during labour

In the space provided on the partogram you should record:

  1. The name of the drug.
  2. The dose of the drug given.
  3. The time the drug was given.
  4. The type of intravenous fluid.
  5. The time the intravenous fluid was started.
  6. The rate of intravenous fluid administration.
  7. The amount of intravenous fluid given (after completion).

N. Assessment and management

After each examination an assessment must be made and recorded on the partogram. All management in labour must also be recorded on the partogram.

O. Recording the time on the partogram

The time, to the nearest half hour, should also be entered on the partogram whenever an observation is recorded, medication is given, an assessment is made or management is altered.

Figure 3C-6: Documenting medication, assessment, management and time on the partogram

Figure 3C-6: Documenting medication, assessment, management and time on the partogram

Exercises on the correct use of the partogram

Only the information given in the cases will be shown on the partogram. In practice, all the appropriate spaces on the partogram must be filled in.

Case study 1

A primigravida at term is admitted to a primary care perinatal clinic at 06:00 with a history of painful contractions for several hours. The maternal and fetal conditions are satisfactory. On abdominal examination a single fetus with a longitudinal lie is found. The presenting part is the fetal head, and 4/5 is palpable above the brim of the pelvis. Two contractions in 10 minutes, each lasting 15 seconds are noted. On vaginal examination the cervix is 1 cm long and 2 cm dilated. The fetal head is in the right occipito-lateral position.

1. Is the woman in active labour?

No. The cervix is less than 3 cm dilated. Therefore the woman is still in the latent phase of labour.

2. How should you enter your findings on the partogram?

As the woman is still in the latent phase of labour, the descent and amount of fetal head palpable above the brim, the presenting part and the position of the head, the length and dilatation of the cervix must be recorded on the vertical line forming the left hand margin of the latent phase part of the partogram. The correct way of entering the above data on the partogram is shown in figure 3C-7.

3. How should you manage this woman further?

The woman must have the routine observations performed at the usual intervals, e.g. pulse rate, blood pressure and fetal heart. She must be offered analgesia and sedation. Adequate analgesia, e.g. pethidine 100 mg and hydroxyzine 100 mg or promethazine 25 mg, should be given by intramuscular injection as soon as she asks for pain relief. A second complete examination should be done at 10:00, i.e. four hours after the first complete examination. The woman must be encouraged to walk about as this will help the progress towards the active phase of the first stage of labour.

At the second complete examination the maternal and fetal conditions are satisfactory. On abdominal examination 2/5 of the fetal head is palpable above the brim of the pelvis. Three contractions in 10 minutes, lasting between 30 seconds each, are noted. On vaginal examination the cervix is 2 mm long and 5 cm dilated. The head is in the right occipito-anterior position. The membranes are artificially ruptured and the liquor is found to be clear.

4. Is the woman still in the latent phase of labour?

No. The cervix is more than 3 cm dilated. Therefore she in the active phase of labour.

5. Where should you enter the findings obtained at 10:00?

The findings must be entered on the latent phase part of the partogram, four hours to the right of the findings at 06:00. However, as the woman is now in active labour, this information must then be transferred to the active phase part of the partogram. This must be indicated with an arrow.

6. How should you transfer the findings at 10:00 from the latent to the active phase part of the partogram?

The X (cervical dilatation) must be moved horizontally to the right until it lies on the alert line. This will again be at 5 cm dilatation. The O (number of fifths of the head above the pelvic brim) is similarly transferred to lie on the same vertical line opposite the two lines on the vertical axis. The new position of the head (ROA) must be indicated on the O. The length of the cervix is recorded by a 5 mm thick black column on the base line vertically below the X and O. The fact that the membranes have been ruptured is entered in the block provided for medication/ I.V. fluids/management. A ‘C’ in the block provided for liquor indicates that the liquor is clear. The correct method of transferring the above findings from the latent to the active part of the partogram is shown in figure 3C-7. (The length of the cervix and the position of the fetal head may also be entered in the appropriate blocks provided elsewhere on the partogram.)

Figure 3C-7: Information from case study 1 correctly entered onto the partogram

Figure 3C-7: Information from case study 1 correctly entered onto the partogram

Case study 2

A multigravida is admitted to the labour ward at 08:00 in labour at term. The maternal and fetal conditions are satisfactory. On abdominal examination the head is 5/5 palpable above the brim of the pelvis. Three contractions in 10 minutes, each lasting 25 seconds are noted. On vaginal examination the cervix is 1 mm long (i.e. fully effaced) and 4 cm dilated. The presenting part is in the left occipito-posterior position. The woman complains that her contractions are painful.

1. Is the woman in the active phase of labour?

Yes, as the cervix is more than 3 cm dilated.

2. How should you record your findings?

As the woman is in the active phase of labour, the findings must be entered on the active phase part of the partogram. The X (cervical dilatation) is recorded on the alert line, opposite 4 on the vertical axis indicating 4 cm dilatation. The O (number of fifths palpable above the pelvic brim) is recorded above the X opposite the 5 on the vertical line. The length of the cervix is recorded by a 1 mm column on the base line, vertically below the X and O. The correct way of recording the above findings is in figure 3C-8.

3. How should you manage the woman further?

She must have the routine observations performed at the usual intervals, e.g. pulse rate, blood pressure, fetal heart, and urine output. She must be offered analgesia. Pethidine 100 mg and hydroxyzine 100 mg or promethazine 25 mg should be given by intramuscular injection as soon as she requests pain relief. A second complete examination should be done at 12:00, i.e. four hours after the first complete examination.

At the second complete examination the maternal and fetal conditions are satisfactory. On abdominal examination the head is 3/5 palpable above the brim of the pelvis. Three contractions in 10 minutes, each lasting 25 seconds, are noted. On vaginal examination the cervix is 5 mm long and 5 cm dilated with bulging membranes.

The presenting part is in the left occipito-transverse position. Poor progress is diagnosed and a systemic assessment of the woman is made in order to determine the cause. Intact membranes and inadequate uterine contraction are diagnosed as the causes of the poor progress.

4. How should you record these findings on the partogram?

The X must be recorded on the horizontal line corresponding to 5 cm cervical dilatation, four hours to the right of the record at 08:00. The O, the position of the fetal head and length of the cervix, are recorded on the same vertical line as the X. The correct way of recording these observations is shown in figure 3C-8.

5. Is the progress of labour satisfactory?

No. This is immediately apparent by observing that the second X has crossed the alert line. For labour to have progressed satisfactorily, the cervix should have been at least 8 cm dilated (4 cm initially plus 1 cm per hour over the past four hours).

6. How should you manage this woman further?

The membranes must be ruptured. Rupture of the membranes will result in stronger uterine contractions. Because there has been inadequate progress of labour, a third complete examination should be performed at 14:00, i.e. two hours after the second complete examination.

At the third complete examination the maternal and fetal conditions are satisfactory. On abdominal examination the head is 1/5 palpable above the pelvic brim. Four contractions in 10 minutes, each lasting 50 seconds are observed. On vaginal examination the cervix is 1 mm long and 9 cm dilated. The presenting part is in the left occipito-anterior position. The findings are recorded as shown in figure 3C-8.

7. What is your assessment of the progress of labour at 14:00?

Labour is progressing satisfactorily. This is shown by the third X having moved closer to the alert line. Also the head, which has rotated from the left occipito-posterior to the left occipito-anterior position, is engaged. A spontaneous vertex delivery may be expected within an hour.

Figure 3C-8: Information from case study 2 correctly entered onto the partogram

Figure 3C-8: Information from case study 2 correctly entered onto the partogram

Case study 3

A gravida 2 para 1 is admitted to the labour ward at 09:00 in labour at term. She has already had painful contractions for the past two hours. Two years before she had a difficult forceps delivery for a prolonged second stage of labour. The infant’s birth weight was 3000 g. The maternal and fetal conditions are satisfactory. On abdominal examination the head is 4/5 palpable above the brim of the pelvis. The cervix is 2 mm long and 5 cm dilated. There is 1+ of moulding present and the presenting part is in the right occipito-posterior position. The woman is HIV negative and an artificial rupture of the membranes is performed and a small amount of meconium-stained liquor is drained. The woman is given pethidine 100 mg and hydroxyzine 100 mg. A second complete examination is scheduled for 13:00.

1. How should you record the above findings?

As the woman is in the active phase of labour, the findings must be entered on the active phase part of the partogram. The X (cervical dilatation) is recorded on the alert line opposite the 5 on the vertical line. The other findings are entered in their appropriate places as shown in figure 3C-9.

2. Is the decision to schedule the next complete examination at 13:00 correct?

Yes. There are no signs of cephalopelvic disproportion (e.g. 3+ moulding) on admission, and the maternal and fetal conditions are satisfactory.

3. What observations must be done carefully during the next four hours?

Meconium in the liquor indicates that the fetus is at an increased risk for fetal distress. Therefore, the fetal heart rate pattern must be observed carefully for signs of fetal distress (e.g. late decelerations).

4. What is likely to happen to this woman’s progress of labour?

The most likely outcome is the development of cephalopelvic disproportion. On abdominal examination the head will remain 3/5 or more palpable above the pelvic brim (i.e. unengaged) and on vaginal examination there will be 3+ moulding. An urgent Caesarean section should then be performed.

Figure 3C-9: Information from case study 3 correctly entered onto the partogram

Figure 3C-9: Information from case study 3 correctly entered onto the partogram