Lisa H is a mother-to-be, in labor at Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women. Childbirth is undoubtedly a life-changing experience, but it can be one that carries an enormous amount of stress for new parents. Here at Texas Children’s Hospital, Lisa doesn’t appear to be stressed at all. One could be forgiven for thinking she is here for a routine checkup.
Studies have suggested that walking around during the first stage of labor may reduce its duration, as well as the risk of needing a caesarian or an epidural.1 Walking around, or ‘ambulating’, is exactly what one of the hospital’s Mini Telemetry systems is allowing Lisa to do.
“While using the system we’ve been walking the hallways, doing some lunges, sitting on the birthing ball, just walking around the room,” said Lisa. “Knowing that the baby is safe and healthy while I’m doing that activity is huge.”
Standard hospital maternity wards are equipped with maternal-fetal monitoring systems that allow a baby’s vital signs to be monitored while the mother is in labor. While important, one drawback is that oftentimes mom needs to be strapped to the bed the whole time. The Mini Telemetry system is small enough to be carried on mom’s waist while she moves around.
“We had heard that Texas Children’s did have telemetry. That was a bonus of coming to this hospital, actually; that we would get to walk around and not be strapped to the bed the whole time,” Lisa added.
“The decision was made to purchase the Mini Telemetry system for all our laboring rooms so that we could provide the same level of care for all our moms,” said Nan Ybarra, Assistant Director of Labor and Delivery (L&D) at the hospital. “It allows the partners to feel empowered in the patient’s care as well. Now they can help support her as she’s ambulating in the halls, when she’s on the birthing ball, and if she desires to have hydrotherapy. That is patient/family-centered care.”
The Mini Telemetry system monitors the baby’s heartbeat, and is small and mobile enough for mothers to walk around the ward within a 500 meter radius. The experience of the first stage of labor is made more comfortable for some mothers in this way, potentially with a smaller chance that they will ask for a pain-numbing epidural injection or need a caesarian section.1
“It has really opened up a whole other level of care that we can offer our patients,” said head nurse Stephanie Clingon, L&D nurse at the hospital. “Moms who are able to move around during their labor have better pain control, they have lower stress. Being able to move around helps them to have more of the experience that they would like.”
Not only do labors seem to be more enjoyable and more comfortable, but they also appear to progress more quickly, according to Dr Longerot MD, OB/GYN at the hospital. She added that it also provides a safety aspect that physicians are looking for, in that they can monitor the baby continuously, ultimately providing satisfaction for both doctor and patient.