This review will cover fetal station in preparation for maternity nursing exams.
For exams, you want to be familiar with how to interpret fetal station measurements and the meaning of the measurement. In this review you will learn:
- What is fetal station?
- How it’s measured?
- How to identify and interpret fetal station
Fetal Station Lecture for Maternity Nursing
Fetal Station Review
Fetal means baby and station means location or position.
Therefore, fetal station is where the baby’s presenting part is located in the pelvis.
What is a presenting part? The presenting part is usually the head, but can be other parts of the baby like the foot etc. In a nutshell, it is whatever part of the baby that is closest to the exit of the uterus, which is the internal os of the cervix. This structure is the “doorway” that allows the baby to leave the uterus.
How is fetal station measured?
- The ischial spines of the pelvis are used as the landmark to determine the location of the baby’s presenting part in the pelvis (hence fetal station).
- This measurement gives us an idea of how much the baby has descended down into the pelvis. Example: whether the baby is engaged (lightening has occurred…meaning the head or presenting part has entered into the pelvic inlet and is at the ischial spines…meaning fetal station is 0).
- It also helps the healthcare team be prepared for the delivery of the baby.
- It’s measured in centimeters (cm) from a pretend line that could be drawn from the right ischial spine to the left ischial spine.
- It will look at the amount of cm from the top of the ischial spine line and bottom of the ischial spine line. Therefore, we are assessing 5 cm from the top of the ischial spine line to 5 cm below the ischial spine line
- However, fetal station is not referred to in centimeters but as minus or plus numbers.
- If the baby’s presenting part is at 5 cm above the ischial spines…the fetal station would be –5.
- If the baby’s presenting part is at 2 cm above the ischial spines…the fetal station would be -2.
- If the baby’s presenting part is at the ischial spines…the fetal station would be 0. Remember this is referred to as the engagement of the baby and tends to happen around 38 weeks for first time moms, but later for women who’ve had other babies.
- If the baby’s presenting part is at 1 cm below the ischial spines…the fetal station would be +1.
- When fetal station is 4 cm (+4) or 5 cm (+5) baby’s birth is very near so be prepared for delivery.
Test your knowledge: Fetal Station Quiz
Labor and birth | Womenshealth.gov. Retrieved 7 February 2020, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-and-beyond/labor-and-birth
Your baby in the birth canal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 7 February 2020, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002060.htm