If you’re pregnant, you probably have many questions about what’s happening inside your body.
One of the most common questions is, “Can I hear a Fetal heartbeat with a stethoscope?
The answer is yes and no. A fetal heartbeat can be heard on an external abdomen examination, but a stethoscope cannot pick up a heartbeat. The reason is that the sound of the heart is too faint to be heard through the chest wall of being born baby under his mom’s womb.
When Is It Possible To Listen To The Fetal Heartbeat With A Stethoscope?
It can be possible in some cases to listen to the fetal heartbeat at 18 to 20 weeks of your pregnancy.
It is important to remember that all pregnancy cases are not similar, so they can’t be taken as the same with every case. If you are unable to listen to your baby’s fetal heartbeat at the age of 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy, then don’t get panic because it may be due to plenty of reasons, such as:
Reasons Behind Difficulties To Hear Fetal Heartbeat
In some cases, it may be difficult to hear the fetal heartbeat if:
- There is the extra amniotic fluid surrounding the baby (polyhydramnios)
- The cervix (the opening in the top of your uterus) has opened too early (cervical insufficiency)
- You have an infection in your uterus (chorioamnionitis)
- The fetal heartbeat may disappear or reappear, making it difficult to detect via a stethoscope.
Which is the righteous way to use a stethoscope by doctors for pregnant women to check the fetal heartbeat?
Stethoscopes are not used in modern obstetrics because they are too insensitive to detect fetal heart sounds accurate. Ultrasound has replaced them for this purpose. However, many obstetricians still carry stethoscopes as equipment for use in other situations, such as screening for congenital heart defects (CHD).
Here’s how they work:
- A good position is sitting up with your knees bent in front of you.
- You can also lie down on your side with one leg bent across your body and another straight out in front of you.
- The doctor will place one ear on your abdomen over where he thinks your baby’s head is located, then put his other ear on top of his stethoscope so that he can hear both sounds at once through both ears.
- He may ask you to take several deep breaths or cough while he listens through the stethoscope so that he can distinguish between your fetal heart rate and your heartbeat.
- If this doesn’t work or if there are concerns about how well your fetus is developing or growing, then an ultrasound may be scheduled so that a doctor can see what is happening inside your uterus.
Reasons Behind If You Can’t Hear A Fetal Heartbeat With A Stethoscope
You can’t hear a fetal heartbeat with a stethoscope for many reasons. The following are some of the main reasons why this happens:
- The baby is too small. The baby’s heartbeat should be audible at about 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy, but sometimes it’s not until later.
- Some women don’t have a strong uterus (the organ holding the fetus).
- The placenta is blocking the way.
- You’re listening too early or too late in pregnancy.
- If you wait until after 18 weeks, then yes, it is possible to hear the fetal heartbeat with a stethoscope. The baby’s heart begins beating around 21 days after conception and continues to beat throughout life (with some interruptions). By week 28, this sound can be heard with a high-quality fetoscope, a special type of stethoscope specifically designed to listen to babies inside the womb.
- You only hear maternal sounds. Sometimes, it’s possible to hear only the mother’s heartbeat using a stethoscope instead of the baby’s. This can happen if the mother has high blood pressure or has just had an exam that moved around her intestines which could cause them to rub against each other more loudly than usual.
- You’re using the wrong kind of stethoscope. A digital stethoscope is better than an analog one. But even that isn’t always enough to pick up the sound of the fetal heartbeat at home.
- It would help if you used it correctly. A good stethoscope has two earpieces; you should put one in each ear — not your ear and then someone else’s (which could transmit bacteria). Also, ensure the diaphragm is pressed firmly against your lower abdomen where your uterus is located; often, people don’t press hard enough for it to work properly (and again, this could transmit bacteria).
- Your doctor isn’t using the right technique when listening to the fetal heartbeat. Make sure your doctor uses gentle pressure when applying the “bell” part of the stethoscope to your abdomen since pressing too hard can cause pain or even harm your baby.
- The baby is very small or stillborn (dead). If your pregnancy is very early, your baby may not yet have grown enough for its heartbeat to be audible with a stethoscope — especially if it’s very small or stillborn (dead).
You can hear your baby’s fetal heartbeat with a stethoscope during early pregnancy, but not always. The second trimester of pregnancy and more advanced is when you may hear fetal heartbeat using a stethoscope.