Variable and Variability

  1. Just started ob class, can someone explain these two terms to me? Also, any good websites that explain fetal heart monitoring and how to read the strips ?
    Thank you in advance.
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  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   mitchsmom
    Here are links on monitoring:
    Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring
    FHR Monitoring- American Academy of Family Physicians

    You can probably find more if you Google it.

    A "variable" is a variable deceleration (as opposed to an early or late decel), which has a sudden onset; often mirrors contractions although as the term states, the timing is variable. ("Variable: Abrupt decrease in FHR of > 15 beats per minute with onset of deceleration to nadir < 30 seconds. The deceleration lasts > 15 seconds and less than 2 minutes.")

    Variability refers to the variability of the fetal heart rate... is is flat; i.e. does the heart rate stay the same or close to the same all the time? Or how much does it vary from the baseline? How many beats do the fht's range in a given time? ("Baseline variability is defined as fluctuations in the fetal heart rate of more than 2 cycles per minute. ")

    Are these explained in your text?
    Last edit by mitchsmom on Nov 14, '06
  4. by   kathiecnm
    If you are just learning about fetal monitoring, you should know that terms & how nurses document or "talk" about it changes from time to time. To be most current, you need to know that AWHONN adopted the NICHD (National Institue for Child Health and Human Development) in late 2005 & many nurses are still trying to make the appropirate changes. They made the changes so we would all be speaking the same language & hopefully improve communication about FHTs & improve outcomes. Just a few suggestions:
    1. There is only variability, not short-term & long-term any longer. It is either absent, minimal,moderate or marked. Ammm is a good thing to hum.
    2. Baseline FHRs are expressed as one number in a variable of 5 instead of a range, i.e. not 140s-150s, but 145.
    3. Reassuring & non-reassuring are no longer terms recommded for use in describing FHTs. I believe normal or abnormal are preferred in communication.
    Your hospital course should be discussing these changes & the reasons for them. If not, go online to AWHONN or NICHD. Hey, it gets easier with time!

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