Pregnancy is a wonderful but also disturbing period. The future mother worries about the baby’s health, because she cannot completely control what is happening, and the intervals between doctors’ examinations are long. A woman experiences especially a lot of worries at that time when the baby doesn’t move actively. During this period, a special device – fetal doppler may help listen to the rhythm of the child’s heartbeat.
Previously, such equipment was used exclusively in medical institutions during planned examinations of pregnant women. Nowadays there are portable fetal doppler devices intended for home use. Is it necessary for every pregnant woman to purchase such a device and use it regularly? Does fetal doppler harm the baby? Let’s try to understand these issues.
What is Fetal Doppler?
Fetal Doppler is a special device, the main function of which is the processing and transmission of ultrasonic waves received from the examined internal organs. The frequency of the ultrasonic signal ranges from 2.0 to 3.0 MHz. As the frequency increases, the sensitivity of the device decreases. In early pregnancy, when the fetal heartbeat cannot be heard without the use of special equipment, fetal doppler can also be used.
The device allows a woman to estimate the fetal heart rate per minute independently at home. It can also be applied by a doctor while examination. There is no harm from fetal doppler. It can be safely used, without fear of harming the fetus.
All the obtained data are transmitted on a digital display. In addition, there is an opportunity to listen to the heartbeat of the baby, using for this purpose a portable speaker or headphones. Most fetal doppler models are additionally equipped with a USB cable, with which you can connect the device to a laptop and save the recording of the heartbeat.
As a power source, there is a battery or a set of batteries. Additionally, the kit may include a special gel needed for the procedure of the study (such gels are sold in pharmacies and shops selling medical equipment).
Is it Necessary to Use Fetal Doppler?
In general, it is necessary to say that there is no direct need to buy a fetal doppler and use it for home control of pregnancy. Specialists observe a woman’s condition during the mandatory examinations. During pregnancy, there is a special schedule of visits to the doctor and conducting additional examinations, in particular, ultrasound. If the gestational period proceeds without complications, then three ultrasound studies are needed, during which a Doppler measurement of the blood flow is determined in the mother-placenta-fetus system.
In the early stages, transvaginal ultrasound is used. On such an examination, you can hear the fetal heartbeat already after 3 weeks of pregnancy. Another method of diagnosis at the initial stage of pregnancy is transabdominal ultrasound, but this procedure is appointed no earlier than 5 weeks. Starting at week 18, the doctor listens to the child’s heartbeat using an obstetric stethoscope.
But some women experience strong unrest for the baby in the interval between visits to the doctor. The feeling of discomfort is amplified if earlier there were pregnancies with an unfavorable outcome. In this case, you can buy a fetal doppler, and apply it to control the heartbeat of the fetus. Firstly, the future mother will just be pleased to hear the little heart beating, and secondly, it will relieve her of stress.
Fetal doppler is simple and convenient to use at home, when not only mom, but other family members can hear the fetus heart beating. All this allows a woman to avoid stress, which can also affect her health and pregnancy.
Note! For your peace of mind, you can use a fetal doppler. But do not abuse it: use only for a few minutes and not every day. On a mandatory basis, visit the doctor at the appointed time, go through all the examinations.
Rules of Use
Fetal doppler can be used at home, starting from the 12th week of pregnancy. More sensitive devices that can display the fetal heart function in the early stages are expensive and are considered special medical equipment.
Technique of the Procedure:
- a woman lies on her back, on a flat horizontal surface, revealing the lower part of her stomach;
- on the area of the skin that will be in contact with the sensor, a gel must be applied that provides a clear signal;
- move the sensor slowly, without sudden movements;
- in the first trimester, the external probe of the device should be located directly above the pubis, since the uterus’s bottom is located low enough;
- in the second trimester – just below the navel, sometimes – with a shift left or right;
- the third trimester – above or below the navel, depending on the position of the child.
The duration of the study is 3-7 minutes. Do not repeat the procedure daily, and even more so, several times a day.
Keep in mind that, having a fetal doppler at home is not the reason to skip a visit to a medical specialist.
Important! The data of a fetal doppler can be recorded and reported to the doctor, but only a full survey gives reliable data.
When is it Better to use the Doppler?
The child, being in the tummy of the mother, lives according to his own schedule – he sleeps, wakes up, plays, etc. That’s why it is important to choose the right time for using the device. It is best to listen to the heartbeat on a full bladder, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. In this case, the filled organ will exert pressure on the bottom of the uterus, slightly lifting it.
You can also use fetal doppler 10-20 minutes after the morning awakening of a future mother. Morning results are usually considered the most reliable.
A baby in the stomach often actively reacts to a meal, if a woman decides to treat herself to something sweet. For 60 minutes after dinner, the beat of the little heart will be audibly heard.
Is There a Need To Panic?
In some cases, fetal Doppler does not record the heartbeat of the baby in the mother’s abdomen. Naturally, the woman begins to worry about the health of the baby. But in most situations, there is no reason for unrest, since the negative result is caused by a violation of the technique of the study. For example, too little contact gel was used or the sensor was installed in the wrong place. Excessive movement of the external probe or its weak contact with the skin can also cause the heartbeat to remain not heard.
Perhaps, a very short gestation period (2-5 weeks), or the device failed. As you can see, there are many reasons, so it’s not advisable to start panicking ahead of time as it is dangerous for a fetus. But, it is still better to pay an unscheduled visit to a leading specialist who will be able to prescribe additional tests.
If You Can’t Hear a Heartbeat, Do Not Panic. Maybe:
- the device is not working properly;
- you have not yet learned how to use the device correctly;
- you used the device too early;
- the position of the fetus is incorrectly determined;
- you move the sensor too quickly;
- there is lack of applied gel.
To buy or not to buy fetal doppler is an individual decision of every pregnant woman. However, official medicine does not see the need to use this device at home.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.