A landmark study into maternal and fetal monitoring is underway at Royal North Shore Hospital and has the potential to help change the way monitoring occurs for the first time in 55 years.
As part of the Oli study, 120 pregnant women are currently being recruited to use new wireless monitoring that offers new measures, which it is hoped, if successful, could replace current invasive monitoring that can restrict the mother’s movements during labour.
The Oli is a wireless patch that monitors key measures impacting mother and baby during pregnancy and labour. Providing details surrounding the quality of uterine activity, maternal and fetal wellbeing, movements and exertion, Oli is being developed to be used before birth, providing information on how a labour is presenting and progressing.
Designed by Baymatob, a company founded by engineer and mother-of-three Dr Sarah McDonald after her second birth, the device is now entering its second human clinical study, where midwives at RNSH hope the data collected will shine a light on mother and baby monitoring.
Michelle de Vroome, Network Manager Midwifery Practice, NSLHD, said the current cardiotocography (CTG) monitoring really hadn’t changed since 1965, measuring the same parameters.
Women in labour are currently monitored via two devices strapped to thick bands wrapped around their torsos, one with a fetal heart rate sensor, the other to track the frequency of contractions. These are then either connected directly to a CTG machine, limiting movement, or wirelessly over a short distance to the CTG machine.
The Oli has the potential to help cut the rates of unnecessary interventions, and where needed, intervene earlier to avoid complications.
Women have already begun to be recruited into the study, which is split into three groups, with some women using the Oli during their antenatal visits, while others will be wearing the Oli during labour.
Following the results, a larger clinical trial across the state is expected to be conducted.
RNSH Clinical Midwife Consultant, Kate Pigott, said the current CTG monitoring is sensitive and not specific to midwives’ and obstetricians’ needs.
"We want to change that around," she said.