I remember the day the doctor gave me my pregnancy test result and the emotions that came with it. That feeling that there’s “someone” growing in the inside of you. The thoughts that cross your mind always are: I have to take things easy so as not to hurt the baby, I have to eat right so as not to hurt the baby, etc. At this point, you are not so sure what’s going on with the baby and you just hold on to faith.
Then, you go for the first ultrasound…
The doctor points at the screen and says, “here’s the heartbeat” and that’s when everything takes a new spin. The doctor tells you that you can now listen to the baby’s heartbeat at will. This becomes your new obsession – getting to hear the heartbeat.
At this point, you haven’t started feeling the wiggles and wriggles, so you find yourself always wondering what’s going on in there: is little bubba okay? Is bubba breathing? Is the little one growing at all? Etc. I can tell you, first hand, that this is a period of anxiety.
Now, how do you control this?
A baby heartbeat monitor also known as fetal doppler is the solution.
As the name implies, this monitor helps you to monitor the heartbeat of the baby in the womb to assure yourself at all times that the little one is doing okay and is just “baking” fine. This means peace of mind for you and peace of mind for baby too, right?
How A Baby Heartbeat Monitor Works
The monitor operates with the technology called “Doppler effect”. It explains 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 sound of the heartbeat gets.
Why Do You Need A Baby Heartbeat Monitor?
As stated earlier, the monitor helps to give you peace of mind concerning the wellbeing of your baby but that is not all. There are other benefits which you get from having a handheld fetal doppler at home.
I remember when I was 6 months pregnant and I had a strong pain through the night. The baby’s movement was not as strong as I usually felt it. I lost sleep for the rest of the night and the first thing I did in the morning was to rush to the doctor for a check. (Don’t worry, the baby was doing fine).
Imagine if I had a monitor at home, I would have just checked for the heartbeat and, at least, slept through the night before going to meet the doctor the next morning. So, having your own fetal doppler helps you check for a problem quickly before you get access to a doctor or a specialist.
There are no side effects from the doppler on your baby. Most parents are usually concerned with the implication of using the heartbeat monitors; they wonder if they are exposing the baby to unhealthy wavelength ranges. Research has proven that ultrasound is one of the safest technologies used in pregnancy diagnosis. So, rest assured, using a heartbeat monitor does not pose any risks to little bubba.
What better way to bond with your little bump than when you listen to his/her heartbeat? There’s always a smile on momma’s face when she’s listening to the baby’s heartbeat. This happens because you get this feeling that makes the baby more real and alive to you.
Here’s A Warning
However, there’s a strict warning that goes with the use of a doppler:
NEVER ignore possible symptoms of distress or complications because you think the heart rate is normal.
For instance, if you had a fall and you are bleeding, do not stay back without visiting your specialist just because you have checked baby’s heartbeat and it sounds okay. There may be other complications that a heartbeat monitor cannot detect.
Now, that you are certain that you need your own fetal doppler, do you get into the market (or go online) and pick up any baby heartbeat monitor that you see? Definitely not! There are factors you need to consider, precautions you need to take, ideas you need to have and things you must know before deciding on the best baby heartbeat monitor for you.
Well, why else are we here if not to help point you in the right direction in making this decision?
But first, let us look at the types of baby heartbeat monitors that we have.
Types Of Baby Heartbeat Monitors
Fetal dopplers are classified based on different categories:
There are different brands who have distinguished themselves so much that their names are first to pop up when the thoughts of baby heartbeat monitor come up. Sonoline is one of such brands and they have different types of monitors which are Sonoline A, Sonoline B and Sonoline C which 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 ones which are used for all women and throughout all of pregnancy. The 3-MHz dopplers are used much earlier in pregnancy (between 8 to 10 weeks) and for overweight women. 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. The 5-MHz Doppler is also used for patients who have retroverted uterus.
This is the most common category for classifying 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 are advanced enough that they have features that allow you to record the heart rates and share with either your doctor or your loved ones.
The Sound Only monitors do not have display screens. You only hear the heartbeats and count them to know whether they are okay or not. To avoid errors, only experienced professionals should use the Sound-Only monitors.
Now that we know the types of monitors and what differentiates them, what’s the next thing that you need to know before going for the heartbeat monitor that is ideal for you?
Let’s get on with it.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Baby Heartbeat Monitor
Whether you want to buy the monitor for personal use or you want to give it as a baby shower gift, there are factors that you must consider before going for the best baby heartbeat monitor that will suit you or the new mum you are buying it for. Here are some of the factors that you should consider:
I doubt there’s anything you want to buy that you do not put the price into consideration. 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 and then look through the list of fetal dopplers that have the specifications and features you need and choose from them. From research, we found that the prices for baby heartbeat monitors range from $10 to $3,000. So, the question is “what’s your budget?”
Worthy of note is the fact 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 should consider its ease of use too.
You need to consider whether you want an LCD monitor or a Sound-Only monitor. Depending on your body size and the stage of your pregnancy, you may consider the frequency range of the monitor also. The most important thing is that you know what your needs and expectations are for the monitor and that you choose the type that meets those needs.
These monitors come with different features. There are those with LCD screen and built-in speakers. Some are battery operated. There are those that allow you to plug in your phone to listen in on the heartbeat, record the heartbeat and even share it with loved ones. So, if you are looking for monitors with all the bells and whistles and all the extras, you can always look out for them and go for those.
Warranties give us the special assurance that a brand trusts its products and puts its money where its mouth is. Warranties depict trust and durability also. you may want to look out for products that have warranties attached to them and also look out for the conditions and duration of the warranty.
Rental or purchase?
If you are in a position where your budget is not so much and you still want to have access to a good fetal doppler, then you may consider hiring one. There are doppler rental services available and if you search for doppler rental services in your area, you may be lucky to have one.
You can get good monitors rented for between $18 and $45 monthly depending on the additional features and specifications. But if you are someone who would rather have her own monitor to use at any time or maybe you have plans to have other kids, buying your own doppler may be the better option to take.
So, do you think it’s time to go get your baby heartbeat monitor? Oh, wait. One more thing. Let us walk you through how to use the baby heartbeat monitor (in case you do not know how).
How To Use The Baby Heartbeat Monitor
Lie on your back (you can use the doppler in a sitting or upright position but lying down is the best).
Apply ultrasound gel on the probe (also ensure you reapply some more whenever it feels like it’s getting dry, mostly when you have been using it for long). Some people use lotion or aloe vera gel for this.
Ensure that you have a full bladder especially in the first trimester and early second trimester.
Place the probe of the monitor on your abdomen; towards your bikini line. Apply a little pressure to it.
Tilt the probe such that it faces your pubic bone.
Move the probe around on your abdomen until you pick the heartbeat. The heartbeats sound like the hoofbeats of a horse in motion. If you pick a heartbeat less than 100 beats per minute, it’s probably yours. Your baby’s heartbeat should be around 140 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 could be because the monitor isn’t working properly or there is a poor signal. Or it could be an awkward fetal or maternal position. However, if there is any cause for concern at all, do not hesitate to call or see a specialist.
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 device:
After using the doppler, always wipe the gel or lotion off the probe.
If the batteries are removable, remove them from the device before storing it.
Keep away from magnetic objects.
Keep away from the reach of children. It is not a toy.
Store in a dry place.
I strongly believe that this guide has been helpful enough and has given you enough information to know what to look out for before getting your own baby heartbeat monitor. Here’s wishing you the best pregnancy ever and a beautiful time bonding with your growing bump.