by Kate, Midwifery Manager for Tommy’s Information Service
Hearing your baby’s heartbeat is precious and reassuring for many parents; however it is important that only midwives and trained health professionals use a doppler to listen in.
When using a hand held doppler it is possible for there to be some confusion with the mother’s own heartbeat and pulsing of the placenta which can be doubled to sound like the baby’s heartbeat. This means that when you listen in, you may not be hearing the baby’s heartbeat at all and can be falsely reassured.
It is also very difficult to listen to the baby’s heartbeat before about 14-16 weeks, so if you are unable to hear it, this may cause lots of unnecessary panic and anxiety.
Keeping an eye on your baby’s movements is the best way for parents to monitor their wellbeing. If you have any concerns about your baby’s movements; whether they have slowed down or changed pattern, you must contact your maternity unit immediately to be monitored properly.
What is a hand held doppler?
Hand held Dopplers are pocket-sized, battery-operated devices that send out high-frequency ultrasound waves. There's usually a handset, a built-in speaker, and a transducer that's placed against your bump. The ultrasound waves pass through your skin and tissue, and then bounce back. This bounce is then translated into sound.
Are you worried about your baby’s reduced movements? This leaflet outlines the care that you should expect to receive, depending on which stage of the pregnancy you are at.
Our #movementsmatter campaign, launched on 24 October, challenges dangerous myths about baby movement during pregnancy, and urges mums-to-be to follow current recommendations about what to do when they experience a change in their baby's movements. The campaign is supported by NHS England and Kicks Count.