The at home fetal doppler is a handheld medical device that uses sound waves to listen to a baby’s heartbeat during the prenatal stage. The fetal doppler has a probe that a mother-to-be needs to glide over the baby bump and allows to listen to the fetal heartbeat through built-in speakers or headphones. Some models of pocket fetal doppler, like HeartBeats™ Fetal Doppler, come with a back-lit LCD screen allowing mothers-to-be to monitor beats per minute (BPM). This special activity used to happen during an ultrasound, but nowadays, expectant parents can hear a child’s heartbeat almost anytime and anywhere.
It should be noted that at home fetal doppler doesn’t replace medical care, so expectant mothers should visit a healthcare provider regularly to ensure the baby’s well-being.
Advantages of at home fetal doppler
Using fetal heartbeat doppler has a lot of benefits from reassurance and peace of mind to the bonding experience. Let’s delve into all advantages in more detail.
Fetal doppler provides peace of mind
One of the most significant advantages of fetal heartbeat Doppler is that it reduces expectant mother’s worry. As pregnancy complications may occur without any sign, regular monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat helps to alleviate anxiety and worries, especially during the early stages of pregnancy when physical sensations may not be as noticeable.
The fetal heart doppler is a very helpful device for women who experienced a miscarriage. Using a fetal doppler monitor may help to avoid stress connected with any slightest change in their body. Also, mothers with a higher risk for pregnancy complications can use fetal heart doppler between checkups for reassurance and peace of mind.
Do not use at home fetal doppler as a replacement for prenatal check-ups. In other words, they’re meant to be used in between visits to the doctor, not instead of visits to the doctor. Reqular visits to your healthcare provider or midwife ensures normal well-being of your baby.
It should be noted that fetal heart doppler can be used no earlier than the 12th week. Otherwise, you fail to hear anything, and it may cause worries. To learn more about at home fetal doppler, read our step-by-step guide.
Early detection of abnormalities
Using at home fetal doppler helps to detect potential issues at early stage. Once the mother-to-be feels bad or notices irregularities in the baby’s heartbeat pattern, she can contact her healthcare provider for further examination. Early detection of abnormalities can lead to timely intervention and appropriate medical care. To find out more about abnormal fetal heart rate, read our article “What is abnormal fetal heart rate?”
According to a project study that was held in 2016, at home fetal doppler can help to detect anti-SSA-positive mothers detect this emergent state—thereby saving their baby. In 4% of positive pregnant women, this antibody causes complete atrioventricular block (CAVB). CAVB can be treated. However, the problem is that the “emergent” state develops in 24 hours, so it cannot be caught on a weekly echocardiogram. There are many cases when at home fetal dopplers helped expecting mothers detect irregularities caused by emergent CAVB. If these two women had not used a fetal doppler, they wouldn’t know they were in an emergent CAVB state.
The pocket fetal doppler provides parents-to-be with a bonding experience. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat can strengthen the emotional connection between the parents and their unborn child. Since the fetus is growing inside the mother, she can feel the kicks and movements. That’s why father-to-be is difficult to bond with the baby before its birth. The fetal doppler allows expectant fathers to be more involved.
Some healthcare professionals are against using at home fetal doppler because they believe mothers-to-be aren’t properly trained to use them. For this reason, they worry that a mother may mistake the sounds of gas or moving blood for a heartbeat. All these factors may cause unnecessary worry or a false sense of reassurance. However, learning how to use a fetal doppler properly is not difficult. With proper knowledge and practice, most expecting mothers are able to tell the difference between sounds. Read our tips on how to use fetal doppler at home.
How to use fetal doppler at home?
First of all, talk to your healthcare provider about using fetal doppler. Whether you need to track your baby’s progress and health regularly or foster a proactive approach to prenatal care, the healthcare provider may advise you on some models of fetal dopplers. Also, find out how many times per week it is allowed to use fetal heart doppler. Also, we recommend to:
- Read the user manual that comes with your specific doppler;
- watch videos with mothers using at home fetal doppler. It will help you to learn what a heartbeat sounds like;
- do not use pocket fetal doppler before 12 weeks, especially, when you are a first-time mother. It may be challenging to hear a baby’s heartbeat before the second trimester, and it may cause worry and anxiety instead of preventing it. Read our article and watch the video on “Baby’s heartbeat: when does a baby’s heart start beating?“
What is a normal fetal heart rate?
The normal fetal heart rate can vary depending on the gestational age of the baby. Here are the general ranges for different stages of pregnancy:
- 6-8 weeks: At this early stage, the fetal heart rate can range from 90 to 110 BPM.
- 9-14 weeks: The heart rate usually increases to around 140 BPM during this period.
- 15-20 weeks: Fetal heart rate typically stabilizes to approximately 120-160 BPM.
- 21-30 weeks: The heart rate continues to hover between 120 and 160 BPM.
- 31-40 weeks: Towards the end of pregnancy, the heart rate may slightly decrease, returning to the range of 110-160 BPM.
If you suspect something is wrong, follow your intuition and contact your doctor. Fetal dopplers do not diagnose medical issues and do not replace checkups.