You may hear cardiac activity for the first time from around 6 weeks into your pregnancy. If you undergo an early ultrasound exam, you might witness the visible movement of cells within the heart tube. It indicates the beating of your baby’s heart.
If you don’t undergo an ultrasound in the 1st trimester, you will likely hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time during a regular prenatal visit using a handheld Doppler device. As early as 10 weeks, your healthcare provider may be able to detect cardiac activity using a handheld Doppler.
When does a Baby have a Heartbeat?
Between 5 to 6 weeks of pregnancy, you may observe a flickering of cells within the embryo’s torso, indicating the development of the heart tube. During this stage, the heart is not yet the familiar four-chambered organ. It takes the form of a tube-shaped structure that requires further development.
Additionally, the ultrasound will confirm your estimated due date and determine the number of babies you are carrying.
By weeks 17 to 20 of pregnancy, the chambers of your baby’s heart will have developed sufficiently to be more clearly visible during an ultrasound examination.
Sonoline B Fetal Doppler
It is a handheld device to listen to the baby’s heartbeat during pregnancy. With the Sonoline B fetal Doppler, you can start hearing the baby’s heartbeat as early as 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
It is recommended to consult your doctor before using a fetal Doppler at home to ensure complete knowledge of how to use it correctly and avoid unnecessary concerns or confusion.
What does a Fetal Heartbeat Sound Like?
Many pregnant women describe the sound of their baby’s heartbeat as resembling the rhythmic galloping of horses. The embryonic and fetal heartbeat is characterized by its rapid pace, ranging from approximately 110 to 150 beats per minute.
If you hear a whooshing sound, remember it is not the actual heartbeat. This noise is usually attributed to movement or the monitor passing over the placenta. Furthermore, if you detect two distinct heartbeats, it does not necessarily indicate twins. You are likely hearing your heartbeat in the background.
A healthy heart rate in the embryo or fetus indicates normal development. Once a heartbeat is visible or audible, the risk of miscarriage decreases to less than 10 percent by 6 weeks of pregnancy and less than 1 percent by 8 weeks.
How will I Usually Hear my Baby’s Heartbeat?
During your prenatal visits, after about 10 weeks of pregnancy, your healthcare provider will use a fetal Doppler, a handheld ultrasound monitor, to check your baby’s heart rate.
Your doctor or midwife will apply ultrasound gel to the device and move it gently across your abdomen until they locate a spot where the baby’s heartbeat can be heard. The device then processes and amplifies these sound waves, allowing you and your provider to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
While renting or purchasing a Doppler for home use is possible, some experts caution against it. Finding and correctly identifying a baby’s heartbeat requires training and practice, which may not be easily acquired.
What If My Doctor Can’t Detect a Heartbeat?
An early stage of pregnancy: It might be too early in your pregnancy for the heartbeat to be visible. In such cases, your provider will schedule another visit in a week or 2 to reevaluate.
Retroverted uterus: If you have a retroverted uterus, which is tilted backward, the baby may be positioned slightly farther away, making it more challenging to detect the heartbeat during an early ultrasound.
Body weight: Being overweight can create additional layers of tissue between the ultrasound wand and the baby, making it more difficult to pick up the heartbeat.
Miscarriage: In some cases, the absence of a heartbeat during the expected timeframe, along with confirmation of the gestational age through ultrasound measurements, may indicate a miscarriage. Similarly, if cardiac activity was initially observed but is no longer present, it could indicate miscarriage.
Ectopic pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants outside of the uterus, would not display heart motion in the uterus during an ultrasound.
Are At-Home Fetal Dopplers Safe?
The safety of at-home fetal Dopplers is a topic of concern. The FDA has issued a warning regarding their usage and advises caution. Handheld Doppler devices are classified as “prescription devices” and should ideally be used by or under the supervision of healthcare professionals.
While no concrete evidence suggests harm to the baby or the pregnant individual from using Doppler devices, limiting prenatal testing to necessary procedures during low-risk pregnancies is generally recommended.
Hearing the fetal heartbeat using a Doppler device can begin around 6 of pregnancy. However, it is important to note that the timing may vary depending on factors such as the position of the uterus, the baby’s position, and the mother’s body size. It is essential to remember that at-home fetal Dopplers should not replace regular prenatal care visits, as these visits provide comprehensive medical assessments.