Pregnant Woman Using Fetal Doppler

There’s nothing more special than holding your little baby in your arms. 

However, you’re going to need to wait an entire pregnancy term in order to feel that warm embrace. While you’re counting down the days, you may be looking for ways to connect with your baby even before he or she is born. 

Well, fetal dopplers are just the thing you’re looking for!

Fetal dopplers allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat in between doctor’s visits as a way to give you a peace of mind and also give you some bonding time with your unborn baby. 

Here are some go-to tips that you need to know to find your baby’s heartbeat!

What is a Fetal Doppler?

Before we get into the secrets of listening to your baby’s heartbeat, it’s important for you to understand what exactly a fetal doppler is.

A fetal doppler is a handheld ultrasound device that is able to pick up soundwaves, allowing you to hear your baby’s heartbeat in the comfort of your own home. You don’t need to wait for your baby to be born to hear its heartbeat - you can start using this device while the baby is still in the womb. 

There are several reasons why mothers love using the fetal doppler:

  • It’s a portable device you can take with you anywhere you go 
  • Gives you a peace of mind and security in between doctor’s visits 
  • Gives you the ability to bond with your baby early on in the pregnancy 
  • It’s an opportunity to introduce children to their new sibling 
  • Gives you the chance to involve your partner, family, and friends
  • Makes a great gift at any pregnancy-related event (baby shower, gender reveal party, etc)
  • FDA approved - you know it’s safe 

This sort of ultrasound device used to only be used as a medical device for professionals, but it’s now something that many pregnant women see as an essential during their pregnancy journey. 

No need to stress in between or during your doctor visits anymore, because you’ll fill the time with building a maternal bond with your baby and also listen to your baby’s heartbeat at your convenience, in a comfortable setting. 

How Does it Work?

You may be wondering how exactly this device works. Well, here is the ultimate guide to using a fetal doppler:

  1. Get the doppler ready 
  2. Get in position by lying down or sitting up 
  3. Apply about two dollops of ultrasound gel to your belly and use the probe to spread it 
  4. Position the probe below your belly button and closer to your public bone
  5. Drag the probe along your abdomen until you hear a heartbeat
  6. Clean off your belly and the doppler for next use 

The average fetal heart rate range is 110 to 160 beats per minute (bpm). This means that a baby's heart should beat between these numbers during both the day and night.

However, There are different fetal heart rate ranges for different types of pregnancies:

  • Early pregnancy: 110-170 bpm
  • Late pregnancy: 100-160 bpm
  • Preterm labor: 80-110 bpm
  • Post-term: 70-100 bpm

Tips for Finding Fetal Heartbeat Using a Fetal Doppler

When using a doppler, you may come across many different sounds - sounds that are not necessarily a heartbeat. 

A lot of the time, the fetal doppler will pick up on fetal blood flow sounds, placental sounds, fetal movement sounds, or your even own heartbeat. 

It can be a little confusing at first when using the device, but rest assured, these tips will help you navigate through the sounds so that you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat in no time!

#1 Take Your Time

If it’s your first time using a fetal doppler to find your baby’s heartbeat, it’s important to take the process one step at a time and go slow! Start low by placing the probe at the middle of your pubic bone. As you move the probe up to your belly, carefully rock the probe back and forth. 

Since there are many different sounds that may be detected, it’s important to go slow so that you don’t miss the sound that you’re actually looking for - the fetal heartbeat. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that pressing the probe onto your your body will NOT help get a clearer or closer sound. So be gentle when handling the probe. 

#2 Be Generous with the Gel 

In order for the fetal doppler to work properly, an ultrasound gel is necessary to act as a barrier for the sound to travel effectively. If you don’t use gel, the sound isn’t able to travel through the air and the friction of the probe against your dry stomach can create too much static, blocking out the sounds you want to hear. 

Therefore, be sure that you’re being generous with the ultrasound gel when trying to find your baby’s heartbeat. If you find that you’re running out of gel or you don’t have any on hand, try these alternatives to ultrasound gel

#3 Be on a Full Bladder

Having a full bladder can help before using a fetal doppler. Having a full bladder will help to push your uterus out of your pelvic cavity which makes the sound of your baby’s heartbeat easier to detect. 

#4 Pay Close Attention to the Range 

If you’re not sure if you’re picking up your baby’s heartbeat or your own, here’s a quick guide to refer to:

  • Your heartbeat: 60-80 beats per minute (bpm)
  • Your baby’s heartbeat: 120-180 beats per minute (bpm)

Although this is a good general guide for you, you’ll notice overtime that your baby’s heartbeat is much faster than your own. 

#5 Study the Sounds 

As mentioned, there are many different sounds going on in your belly. Here are a few different sounds that the fetal doppler can pick up, along with videos so that you can study and easily notice them. 

  • Fetal Blood Flow Sounds: Your baby’s circulatory system starts forming around week 6 of your pregnancy. These sounds can be detected as blood flows throughout the baby, but it’s important to note that this is not the fetal heartbeat sound.
  • Placental Sounds: Placenta is an organ that the female body manifests during pregnancy that provides nutrients for a growing baby. Many report that the sound is similar to the wind in the trees, or a whooshing noise. 
  • Fetal Movement Sounds: Babies shift frequently so you could be detecting this movement
  • Fetal Heartbeat Sound: The heartbeat will sound differently depending on how far along you are in the pregnancy. This sound is typically reported as being similar to a galloping horse.

To learn more about fetal heartbeat monitors, read:

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