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What is continuous CTG monitoring?

CTG stands for cardiotocography. Continuous CTG monitoring uses ultrasound waves to measure your baby's heart rate and the strength of contractions in your uterus during labour. 

Normally, a baby's heart rate stays between 110 and 160 beats per minute. For comparison, an adult’s heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Your baby's heart rate will naturally vary as there is a brief interruption of blood flow through the placenta during contractions. But if your baby's heart rate varies a lot, your midwife or doctor will want to investigate further. 

Most commonly, CTG is carried out externally. Your midwife will put some jelly on your belly and place an elastic belt around your abdomen. This belt has two round sensors that make contact with the skin and measure the baby's heart rate and the pressure on the tummy.

Being attached to a CTG monitor can make moving around more difficult. But if you'd like to be more active during your labour, ask if your hospital has a wireless and waterproof CTG monitor you can use. This will even mean you can labour in the pool, as long as the CTG is working well. 

You might need to be continuously monitored for a number of reasons, including:

  • You have an infection
  • You have diabetes
  • You have pre-eclampsia
  • Your baby is coming earlier than expected
  • Your pregnancy has lasted more than 42 weeks
  • Your baby has passed meconium in the womb
  • Your labour was induced
  • Your labour has gone on for a long time
  • You have bled before or during labour
  • Your baby is breech
  • You are giving birth to multiple babies

But in a low-risk delivery, CTG is not usually needed. The midwife will simply listen to your baby from time to time instead.