Monitoring maternal temperature during labor is a must to prevent any neonatal health issues. Know more on the significance of monitoring maternal temperature during childbirth.
When a woman goes into a labor, her body begins to change drastically. As the body begins to prepare for the childbirth, it is but obvious to see significant changes in her vital signs. Blood pressure, pulse rate deviate from normal due to anxiety and pain. However, during this time, it is the duty of the care givers to keep the woman calm and monitor her vital signs from time to time. Apart from blood pressure and pulse rate, keeping track of her body temperature is equally important. However, monitoring body temperature the normal way (by checking skin temperature) is not useful. It is the intrauterine temperature that needs to be checked from time to time.
Implications of High Maternal Temperature
High intrauterine temperature may pose certain immediate risks to the newborn. Besides, maternal fever during labor also has certain long term implications on the life of a newborn. Maternal fever is mostly associated with epidural or analgesics that are given during labor. A lot of study has been done on administration of epidurals and their effect on newborns. As per one study, administration of epidurals causes a reduced inborn response to breastfeeding. In normal labor without epidurals, a newborn shows an instant inclination towards breastfeeding. When exposed to mother’s bare breasts, these newborns are likely to touch nipples, make massaging movements by holding breasts, lick before suckling nipples. However, these inborn movements were found to have reduced in newborns exposed to maternal fever due to epidurals.
Maternal Temperature Monitoring During Labor
As mentioned above, maternal temperature monitoring differs from monitoring normal body temperature. Intrauterine temperature needs to be monitored every 10 seconds during labor to prevent risk of high fever. In addition, temperature from ear canal and skin surface of leg and abdomen is also taken very frequently. Oral temperature can be taken once every hour. One must note that intrauterine temperature varies significantly from the body temperature on the surface of the skin. Temperature inside the ear canal may give a rough idea regarding intrauterine temperature. Although, the risk of transmitting fever to newborn does not exist, high maternal fever may curb the natural instincts of baby, that are required for establishing a bond between mother and baby.
Preventing High Maternal Temperature During Labor
As already mentioned above, epidurals are primarily responsible for causing high body temperature during labor. Hence, the incidence of maternal fever can be prevented by avoiding the use of epidurals. As epidurals are essentially used for relieving pain during birth, it is important to look for substitute methods of painless labor. One such method is birthing in water. This technique is becoming popular day by day. You may only choose to initiate labor in water or let your baby born in water. There are several advantages of birthing in water. For one, it is very much possible to control the temperature of water, so that mother does not suffer from hypothermia or hyperthermia. Besides, the risk of infections to baby is minimized in this method. However, continuous monitoring and supervision by medical staff is required if a woman chooses to give birth in water. Besides, women with a BMI over 35 should refrain from birthing in water.
Thus, maternal temperature during labor is an issue of concern from the point of view of safety and health of a newborn. Health care practitioners must keep a constant supervision on her body temperature as well as other vital signs.