One major cause of anxiety among mothers to be is not feeling the baby kick as often as they are used to. A few years ago, the only way to ease this anxiety was to have the fetal heart rate checked in the OB’s office as soon as possible. But thanks to technology, mothers can now check the heart rate of their soon to be born babies at home and as often as they like. Hearing the heartbeat of your unborn baby gives you reassurance that everything is okay and gives you peace. There are several different types of fetal heart monitors in the market today, but are fetal dopplers safe for the baby? This article will discuss the pros and cons of dopplers so as to help you make an informed a decision.
What you need to know about fetal monitoring during pregnancy
How does a fetal Doppler work?
Before making the decision to purchase the best fetal heartbeat monitor for home use, it is important to first understand how it works.
Fetal dopplers are handheld devices that pregnant women can use to listen to the heart rate of their babies right in the comfort of their homes.
These portable Dopplers work based on the Doppler Effect which was developed by Christian Doppler in 1842. They send short pulses of high frequency ultrasound waves which pass through into your baby in the womb. In the womb, the waves encounter your baby’s heartbeat afterwhich they are reflected back to the Doppler where the heartbeat is converted into sound. This sound is then amplified by the device and you begin to hear the heartbeat.
Scientifically, once the ultrasound waves are reflected back to the device, the concept of Doppler Effect is used to calculate the shift in frequency and wavelength thereby converting the signal into heart beat. To hear the heartbeat, fetal heart rate monitors’ come with earphones that you connect to hear the sound.
Are fetal dopplers safe for the baby?
Fetal heartbeat dopplers have been approved for use at home by the FDA since they use low emission ultrasound technology. This means that they are safe for the baby. For this reason, it is important you ensure that you purchase an FDA approved fetal Doppler for early pregnancy.
However, physicians argue that pregnant moms should not use prenatal heartbeat monitors without the approval of the doctor. They should also not be used as a replacement for medical consultation.
Are fetal dopplers safe to use daily?
According to medical professionals, fetal doppler for early pregnancy should not be used on a daily basis. This is based on the fact that they use similar technology to ultrasound, which has not yet been proven safe or dangerous. So to be on the safe side, it is important to minimise using a fetal Doppler everyday.
When should I start fetal heart monitoring at home?
Pregnancies are different and so are our bodies. Some moms-to-be may be able to hear the heartbeat of their babies as early as 8 weeks while other may have to wait up to 14 weeks.
Professionals therefore recommend starting to use a fetal heart rate Doppler at around 12 weeks.
What should the fetal heart rate range typically be?
Normal fetal heart rate ranges between 120 and 160 beats per minute (bpm) but varies throughout the pregnancy. For instance, at 10 weeks you may find that your baby’s fetal heart rate is about 170 beats per minutes and may reduce to 130bpm during the last days of pregnancy.
You are able to differentiate your baby’s heartbeat from your own because it is much faster than yours. You however have to pay attention when monitoring because the signal may be masked by other noises like baby movement and flow of blood in your blood vessels; thus giving an inaccurate heartbeat range.
How to use a fetal Doppler for early pregnancy
- Lie down on your back on a flat surface and expose your abdomen
- Apply a generous amount of ultrasound gel on your abdomen and some on the Doppler probe as well. Many people wonder whether it is important to use this gel. The answer is YES, you need to apply the gel so as to reduce static and enhance skin contact so that the Doppler can detect the sound waves easily.
- Place the Doppler probe over the gel on your abdomen near the pubic area, turn on the fetal Doppler and wear the earphones.
- Gently start sliding the Doppler while ensuring that you cover every part of your bump so as to find where your baby is hiding.
- You will know that you have found your baby’s heartbeat once you hear sounds through the earphones and the Doppler reads 120 bpm or higher. As mentioned earlier, the heartbeat will be much faster than your normal heartbeat and you may even miss it during your first trial.
- Once done, clean your fetal Doppler probe carefully by wiping off the gel with a dry cloth and let it dry in the open air.
Benefits of using a fetal Doppler for early pregnancy
Majority of moms-to-be find it exciting to use a fetal Doppler at home mainly to help minimise their anxiety, bond with the baby, and for entertainment purposes.
- Helps to minimise anxiety
During the first weeks of pregnancy, the only thing that makes a woman feel that she is pregnant is the morning sickness. Other than the throwing up and constant nausea, it is impossible to know how your baby is doing in there since he or she has not started kicking. An ultra sound would help, but you cannot keep running back to have one whenever anxiety creeps in.
This is why a home fetal Doppler that can detect the baby’s heart as early as 8 weeks is very important in reducing anxiety and bringing peace of mind. Listening to the baby’s heartbeat at home is especially comforting for couples who have lost a pregnancy before or have pregnancy related complications.
- Helps to bond with the baby
As a mom-to-be, the bonding with your baby begins immediately you discover you are pregnant. Knowing that there is a tiny little being growing inside you is enough to create a bond. Hearing their heartbeat strengthens this bond too. The baby’s father also gets to bond with the baby while still in the womb.
You can use the device at any time and any place as long as you have the lubricating gel. Such as when travelling and you want to ease your anxiety or visiting your friends and family and you want to share your pregnancy journey with them.
- Easy to use
These handheld devices are extremely easy to use. You do not even need to read the instructions on the manual to know how to use one. All you have to do is apply the ultrasound gel on your bump and a little on the Doppler probe. Place the device on your abdomen and start moving it around until to hear your baby’s heartbeat. That’s pretty easy, isn’t it? However, it is important to read the manual just to make sure you are using the device appropriately.
The sound of your baby’s heartbeat and other movements in the womb can be quite entertaining. This is why some dopplers give you the option to record the sounds that you can listen to later. Others like the Womb music heartbeat Baby monitor comes with a lullaby album that you can personalise to sing your baby’s name.