There's this general belief that medicine should be based on a 'first do no harm'-approach. Yet modern medicine seems pretty much astrayed from that approach. The more I read, the more it seems to me that modern medicine is based on an 'let's use all of the newest techniques and try to avoid malpractice lawsuits'-approach.
Internal monitoring is one beautiful example of this thinking pattern. Yet another technique that has hardly been researched, but gets to be implied far and wide. Because it can only be better to stick things inside a woman's vagina and inside a babies' head than to put a very bothersome belt across a woman's pregnant belly, right?
What does internal fetal monitoring consist of?
Internal fetal monitoring involves placing a electrode directly on the fetal scalp through the cervix. Your health care provider may use this method of monitoring your baby if external monitoring is not working well, or the information is suspicious.
A vaginal examination will be performed, and the electrode will be introduced with its plastic sheath into the vaginal canal. This plastic guide is moved through the cervix and placed on the fetus' scalp, then removed. The electrode's wire is strapped to your thigh, and attached to the monitor.
When I had my daughter, I was induced, and I did get the internal fetal monitoring. I wasn't offered a choice, really, the OB just said: "We're going to do internal fetal monitoring to get a better view of the situation." Nobody warned me that my baby would have a headwound that would last for months to come. Oh, and they had to try twice to get the electrode in place, so two wounds for baby.
So now someone finally goes through the trouble of researching wether sticking electrodes into a babies' scalp is actually such a good idea (we kind of hope to see benefit from such a procedure, no?) and then it doesn't even change labour outcome the slightest bit from the traditional methods.
Not only is there no significant difference in labour outcome, not only does internal monitoring require your water to be broken (all with it's associated risks, of course), there's the associated risk of infection and fetal scalp bruising.
The lesson we have learned today: if the situation occurs that one comes near your vagina with electrodes, run the other way!