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The ability to effectively auscultate and interpret a fetal heart rate is essential for midwifery. There are three methods of auscultation – with a Pinard, a Doppler or using electronic fetal heart rate monitoring. This article focuses on intermittent auscultation using either a Pinard (fetal stethoscope) or a Doppler, as well as providing an explanation of the normal parameters for a fetal heart during the antenatal and intranatal periods.

Learning objectives

After completing this module, you will:

  • Understand why we auscultate fetal heart rate
  • Know when further monitoring and/or investigation is warranted
  • Be familiar with the theory of using different methods of auscultation
  • Be aware of key guideline recommendations for the intervals for auscultation

Keywords and links

Antenatal care, intranatal care, abdominal palpation, history taking, triage, abdominal examination

Activities and questions at the end of this resource will enable you to assess your knowledge and reflect on how you can incorporate it into your own practice. In the following questions, please select the answer that you believe to be correct. This will be marked and then you can move on to the next question. If you wish, at the end you can return for a further attempt at the questions.

Upon completion of the module, you will be able to download and save or print a certificate to include in your CPD/ revalidation portfolio.