Pregnancy is a very exciting journey and it comes with its fair share of anxiety. As the pregnancy progresses, you will feel the need to really bond with your baby. You will be eager to find out if everything is okay.
When you go for your first ultrasound, the doctor will point at the screen and say, “here’s your baby’s heartbeat.” That’s when everything takes a new spin. The doctor will tell you that you can now listen to the baby’s heartbeat at will. This becomes your new obsession – getting to hear the heartbeat.
This is why you need to get a baby heartbeat monitor.
What Is a Baby Heartbeat Monitor?
A baby heartbeat monitor is an ultrasound device that is used to monitor the heartbeat of a baby in the womb. It is also known as a fetal doppler. An ultrasound gel will be applied on your abdomen before the device is used.
How Does a Baby Heartbeat Monitor Work?
The monitor operates on the principle of Doppler effect. This states that when wave energy travels between two objects, the wavelength changes if one or both of those objects are in motion. This is what happens when you have a siren approaching you. The pitch increases as it gets closer to you and disappears when it gets away from you.
This same principle applies to the baby heartbeat monitor or fetal doppler. When the probe is moved over the abdomen, the wave energy travels between the probe and the fetus. The closer the probe gets to the moving heart, the more amplified the heartbeat becomes.
Why Do You Need a Baby Heartbeat Monitor?
You need a baby heartbeat monitor because it helps to give you peace of mind concerning the well being of your baby. Also, it quickly helps you check if there is a problem before you can access a doctor or a specialist.
There are no side effects from the doppler on your baby. Most parents are usually concerned about the implication of using the heartbeat monitor; they wonder if they are exposing the baby to unhealthy wavelength ranges. Ultrasound is one of the safest technologies used in pregnancy diagnosis. So, rest assured, using a heartbeat monitor does not pose any risks to the fetus.
What better way to bond with your little bump than when you listen to his/her heartbeat? There is always a smile on your face when listening to the baby’s heartbeat. This happens because you get this feeling that makes the baby more real and alive to you.
How Can You Use the Baby Heartbeat Monitor?
To use the baby heartbeat monitor, follow these procedures:
1. Lie on your back.
2. Turn on the device.
3. Choose your listening option (loudspeaker or headphone), then adjust the device volume.
4. Apply some ultrasound gel on your lower abdomen.
5. Place the monitor on the gel and move it upwards from the lower abdomen. Do this slowly.
6. Continue adjusting the position of the monitor upwards, up to the middle part of your abdomen and around your belly button.
7. When you have located the baby’s position and heard the fetal heartbeat, clean the monitor. Also clean the remaining gel from your abdomen with a clean towel or tissue paper.
Fetal heartbeats sound like the hoof beats of a horse in motion. If you pick a heartbeat less than 100 beats per minute, it is yours. Your baby’s heartbeats need to be around 110 to 160 beats per minute.
Remember that the earlier your pregnancy is, the harder it is to get the heartbeat. Also, as your pregnancy progresses, you start getting the heartbeat higher up in your abdomen.
If you do not hear the heartbeat at first, it indicates that the monitor is not working properly or there is a poor signal. It can also be as a result of an awkward fetal or maternal position. However, if there is any cause for concern, do not hesitate to call or see a specialist.
What Safety Measures Can You Take When Using Fetal Doppler at Home?
When using fetal doppler at home, the following safety measures should be observed:
1. Do not use the device for an extended period of time. If you do not hear the fetal heartbeat within 2 minutes, stop using the device.
2. Ensure you use the highest volume of the fetal doppler.
3. If you can feel your baby’s movement, do not use the doppler. An active baby is a sign of good fetal health.
4. Never ignore possible symptoms of distress or complications because you think the heart rate is normal. If you had a fall and you are bleeding, contact your specialist. There can be other complications that a heartbeat monitor cannot detect.
Types of Baby Heartbeat Monitor
The types of baby heartbeat monitor are categorized according to the following:
2. Waterproof features
3. Probe frequency
Some brands have distinguished themselves so much that their names are first to pop up when the thought of baby heartbeat monitor comes up. Sonoline is one of such brands and they have different types of monitors which are Sonoline A, Sonoline B, and Sonoline C. They are differentiated by features and upgrades.
This is very important if you are considering having a water birth. Some baby heartbeat monitors are waterproof while others are not.
There are 3 frequency ranges that are seen among fetal dopplers: 2-MHz, 3-MHz, and 5-MHz. The 2-MHz dopplers are the most commonly used. They are used for all women and throughout all stages of pregnancy.
Furthermore, the 3-MHz dopplers are used much earlier in pregnancy (between 8 to 10 weeks) and for overweight women. Additionally, the 5-MHz dopplers are transvaginal probes used to check fetal heart tone in early pregnancy (6 to 8 weeks) and for obese women, all through pregnancy. It is also used for patients who have retroverted uterus.
This is the most common category of baby heartbeat monitors: The LCD monitor and the sound-only monitor.
The LCD monitor has a screen on which the heart rate is shown. Some monitors have features that allow you to record the heart rates and share with either your doctor or your loved ones.
On the other hand, the sound-only monitor does not have a display screen. You only hear the heartbeats and count them to know whether they are okay or not. To avoid errors, this type of monitor is used by only experienced healthcare providers.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Baby Heartbeat Monitor
Here are some factors to consider when buying a baby heartbeat monitor:
2. The type of monitor
3. Additional features
Because we all work with a budget, we want to be able to get the best item that our budget can cover, right? The same applies to buying a fetal doppler. You need to know what your budget is. After that, you can look through the list of fetal dopplers that have the specifications and features you need.
It is important to note that most cheap baby heartbeat monitors are not usually accurate (for home use) or they are more complicated and can only be used by doctors. This simply means that when drawing your budget, you need to consider its ease of use too.
The Type of Monitor
You need to consider whether you want an LCD or a sound-only monitor. Depending on your body size and the stage of your pregnancy, you also need to consider the frequency range of the monitor.
Fetal dopplers come with different features. There are those with LCD screen and built-in speakers, while some are battery operated. There are also those that allow you to plug in your phone so you can listen, record, and even share the heartbeat with loved ones.
This gives us the special assurance that a brand trusts its products. It also depicts durability. You need to look out for products that have warranties attached to them. Also look out for the conditions and duration of the warranty.
Check out these other articles:
- Baby Bouncer: How Do I Get One?
- How to Lose Stretched Skin after Pregnancy
- Baby Diapers – Making The Right Choice
- Baby Powder – Essential Information
- Baby Nursery Decoration: Things You Need To Consider
- Baby Nail Clippers: Why You Should Get One
How to Care for Your Baby Heartbeat Monitor
This goes without saying but we need to mention it. If you want to make the most of your baby heartbeat monitor, you need to take good care of it.
Here are a few tips on how to care for your fetal doppler:
1. After using the doppler, always wipe the gel or lotion off the probe.
2. If the batteries are removable, remove them from the device before storing.
3. Keep away from magnetic objects.
4. Keep away from children. It is not a toy.
5. Store in a dry place.
We strongly believe that this guide has been useful and has given you enough information to know what to look out for before getting your own baby heartbeat monitor. We wish you the best pregnancy ever and a beautiful time bonding with your growing bump.
Baby Heartbeat Monitor — Related Frequently Asked Questions
When Can You Hear Your Baby’s Heartbeat?
You can hear your baby’s heartbeat around 5 to 6 weeks of gestation. This can be detected through an ultrasound. Around this period, the early signs of an embryo will be visible. However, due to the fact that the embryo is still developing, the heartbeat will not be very noticeable.
Furthermore, around 7 weeks of gestation, your health care provider will request that you do a vaginal or an abdominal ultrasound. During this period, the fetal heartbeat can be easily detected. The result of this ultrasound will ascertain if the fetus is healthy and developing. It will also tell if the pregnancy is high-risk or not.
What If There Is No Heartbeat at 7 Weeks?
If there is no heartbeat at 7 weeks, you need to do another ultrasound. This will confirm if there is a fetal heartbeat and if you are measuring correctly. Assuming your last menstrual period was 7 weeks ago, it indicates that you were around 4 weeks during your first ultrasound (this applies to cases of irregular periods). If you were not measuring correctly, it means that it is too early to hear your baby’s heartbeat.
On the contrary, if you are actually 7 weeks pregnant with no fetal heartbeat, it is a sign of miscarriage. However, there are exceptions to this. Hence, you need to consult your doctor to know the next steps.
Can You Feel a Fetus Heartbeat In Your Stomach?
You cannot feel a fetus heartbeat in your stomach. The pulse you feel in your stomach during pregnancy is as a result of a pulse occurring in the abdominal aorta. This is the artery that transports blood that is rich in oxygen from the heart to the lower body parts. This pulse will become stronger in your second and third trimesters.
Furthermore, during pregnancy, your blood volume increases. As a result, when the artery transports the large volume of blood, the pulse will be more noticeable. This pulse is not synonymous to your baby’s heartbeat. You can only hear a fetal heartbeat when you use a fetal doppler.
How Can You Know If Your Baby Is Healthy In the Womb?
Here are pointers to know if your baby is healthy in the womb:
- The length of the fetus should be 14 inches by week 7.
- The baby’s heartbeat will be around 110 – 160 beats per minute.
- You will start feeling the baby’s movements from 5 months. By 6 to 7 months, your baby will begin to respond to sound, light, and pain. Also, around the 8th month, your baby can move more frequently and change positions in the womb. That is when you feel your baby’s kicks very often.
- Weight gain around 12 to 15 weeks indicates that your pregnancy is healthy.
What Happens If Baby’s Heartbeat Is Too Fast?
If the baby’s heartbeat is too fast, insufficient blood will be pumped per beat due to shallow contractions. This can result in heart failure as well as death of the fetus. This condition is referred to as tachycardia.
The commonest form of tachycardia is supraventricular tachycardia which is also known as SVT. In this condition, the heart can beat more than 200 beats per minute. Meanwhile, the normal rate is between 110 – 160 beats per minute. Tachycardia is usually caused by an abnormal firing of the nerves that cause the heart to beat.
What Can You Do If Your Baby’s Heart Rate Is High?
If your baby’s heart rate is high, your doctor will prescribe a medication for you. This medication will pass through the placenta to reach the baby. However, to determine if it will be safe to administer the medication, an electrocardiogram (ECG) will be carried out. This test will check the rhythm of your heart.
When you start taking the medications, it can take about 2 – 3 weeks before your baby’s heartbeat begins to normalize.
Additionally, you can carry your baby to term except the fetus shows signs of discomfort. In that case, you will deliver pre-term.