Can You Listen To Your Baby’s Heartbeat At Home?
One of the biggest milestones for pregnant couples is being able to hear their little one’s heartbeat for the first time! It’s the small moments like these that make you realize just how lucky you are, and how soon your bundle of joy will come into this world. Picture yourself in your doctor’s room looking at the ultrasound screen when suddenly, you hear the unmistakable sound of a tiny heartbeat. There are very few moments in life that can match up to this. Oftentimes parents wonder, how can I hear my baby’s heartbeat at home?
When can I hear my baby’s heartbeat?
The fetus starts to develop a heartbeat as early as 5 weeks into pregnancy! But at this stage it’s extremely tiny and cannot be distinguished by any tool. However, around the 12th week mark is when your doctor will use something known as the ‘Fetal Doppler’ to pick up on your little one’s heartbeat. When you go in for an ultrasound check around this time, the doctor will be able to show you and make you listen to the baby’s heartbeat! There are many factors involved in figuring out how early you can hear the baby heartbeat. Your weight, your little one’s position in your uterus and even the accuracy of your due date matters.
How the Fetal Doppler works?
You might be aware of this device if you have ever been for an ultrasound before. It is a handheld monitor that has the ability of finding and magnifying your baby’s heartbeat loud enough for you to hear. The way it does this is by sending and receiving sound waves that come in contact with your baby’s heartbeat. The ultrasound technician will place it over your belly with cold gel and try different spots to hear where the heartbeat is loudest.
Can you hear your baby’s heartbeat at home?
Generally, once you enter your 3rd trimester you will be able to tell if the baby is all right depending on the activity. If at any time you feel like the baby’s activity has reduced, or stopped then you must consult your doctor immediately. You should be able to feel kicking and movement now and then during your 3rd trimester. There are not many ways to listen to your baby’s heartbeat at home, except for of course a fetal Doppler. Nowadays, fetal dopplers can be bought and rented for using at home. Many parents think this is a good way to listen to their baby’s heartbeat whenever they want in the comfort of their own home. It can be quite reassuring to know that your little one is alive and kicking from time to time.
How do you use a fetal Doppler?
First things first - your little one’s heart will beat at around 120 to 180 beats per minute. This is the standard average of baby’s heartbeats nine weeks into pregnancy. Renting or buying fetal Dopplers has become common practice among expecting couples. It is a small handheld device that can work on batteries to one end and a flat surface with which you can probe over your belly to hear the heartbeat on the other. Gels are placed on the belly to lubricate the surface so that the Doppler can glide over easily.
However, doctors and experts recommend against using fetal dopplers at home. Here’s why:
- You need a trained specialist in the field to find the exact spot where you can hear the heartbeat from.
- Many a times checking compulsively can lead to a feeling of paranoia.
- You might not even be able to hear a heartbeat sometimes. This is completely normal. The lack of a heartbeat isn’t any indicator of ill health or good health of your little one.
- The effects of exposing a fetus to the ultrasound Doppler waves over a long period of time are unknown, and its best to be safe than sorry.
- The Doppler will pick up almost any sound that goes on inside your system and it takes a trained ear to figure out which sound is the actual baby heartbeat. So, you can never be a 100% sure if what you’re hearing is actually the baby’s heartbeat.
Are fetal dopplers safe?
While the effects of exposing your unborn child to the sound waves of the Doppler are still unknown, experts tend to be wary of the prolonged use of such devices. Furthermore, only a trained technician will be able to tell the difference between what the baby’s heartbeat is and what is not. It is always a safer bet to visit your doctor or radiologist anytime you want to hear it.