MOTHERS-to-be are avoiding long, stressful and often unnecessary trips to hospital after Cwm Taf University Health Board became the first in the UK to pilot ground-breaking technology to monitor baby’s heart rates at home in real time.

The innovative project allows pregnant women across the Cwm Taf region to use bluetooth technology to send real-time information about their baby’s heart rates to the hospital midwife or consultant, who can analyse the data and decide if they need to come into hospital for further observation or not.

Before the pilot, the women, who have been identified as needing closer monitoring during their pregnancy but are not high risk, would have to make a significant number of lengthy and sometimes difficult journeys to the hospital for their appointments.

Now, this latest technology means they will only have to make these journeys if the team spots anything that they want to have a closer examination of. As the technology transmits the data in ‘real time’ the midwife or clinician sees the heart trace at the exact time the mum-to-be is using it so if there are any concerns they can be brought in to the hospital straightaway.

Rosie Pritchard, a midwife on the maternity day assessment unit at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, said: “A lady that I was looking after was 19 weeks pregnant and was having to come in alternate days to be monitored because her waters had gone early. She was having to come every other day until the baby was born – so for nearly 20 weeks. She was a single mum so had to bring two children with her and she had to catch three buses to get here. It was a nightmare for her.

“Now, a lady can take the monitor home. She will put herself on the monitor and it’s transported back to me live-time. We know straight away if there’s a problem and we can contact that lady to come to the hospital.

Kimberley Jones, from Pontypridd, is one of the women who has benefitted from the technology.

She said: “I have twins and I did have a liver dysfunction, which caused me to itch and go into premature planned C-section, which they are trained to monitor now in order to prevent any harm to the baby. I have a monitoring system to take home. It’s really, really good – any queries or problems, one phone call and they’ll ask you to come in, so I’m really confident in it.”

Natasha Dolloway, from Treherbert, said the technology was beneficial both emotionally and financially.

She said: “I was coming down every other day – on weekends as well. It’s quite a distance and is quite stressful. Not having to come here every other day is a lot easier on the baby and me stress-wise and saves money because it does cost petrol.”

Rachel Fielding, head of Midwifery, Gynaecology and Sexual Health at Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “In Cwm Taf we are embracing technology and new innovations to not only help improve the quality of care for women, but also their quality of life.

“It identifies any problems straightaway which may then require admission to hospital, but mostly supports the women to stay in the comfort of their home when all is well, in-between their regular hospital visits.”

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