It's concerning to see mobile apps that claim to monitor your baby’s heartbeat being promoted in the press

An Evening Standard piece promoting mobile apps for mums-to-be shows why greater awareness about reduced fetal movements is needed.

Pregnant woman using smartphone.

We were disappointed to see that the Evening Standard included a mobile app claiming to monitor your unborn baby’s heartbeat, in their list of ‘The best pregnancy apps for mums-to-be.’

While the piece did say “Doctors and midwives warn against most DIY foetal checks as they could falsely soothe mothers who are worried about reduced baby movements”, unfortunately it didn’t explain the real dangers.

In the worst case scenario, if a mother is falsely reassured by an app telling her that her baby’s heart is beating, she may not feel she needs to visit her local labour ward. And tragically, this may lead to the loss of that baby’s life.

The only way to know your baby is well is to be aware of their pattern of movement, and seek help immediately if you notice their movements have changed or reduced.

At Tommy’s, we are really concerned by the increase of these apps on the market and strongly advise pregnant women against using them. As with home dopplers, these apps may sound tempting but they are not a reliable way to listen to your baby’s heartbeat.They can cause unnecessary worry and confusion for mums-to-be because unless you are medically trained, it is easy to confuse the pulsing of the placenta with the baby’s heartbeat. That’s why only a midwife or health professional who has received special training and knows what to listen for can accurately monitor your  baby’s heartbeat.

Our midwife Kate explains:

"There are plenty of apps now available which can be fun to use and great way to involve your partner, children, family and friends in your pregnancy, however that is what they are for, just a bit of fun. Nothing can replace a mother’s instinct and what she feels in pregnancy.  It is so important that mums-to-be monitor their baby’s movements and if they have any concerns about movements or anything else in pregnancy then to call their maternity unit straight away for a proper review by a midwife or doctor."

It is worrying that despite the warnings of health professionals, these apps continue to get press coverage.

That’s why at Tommys, we’ll continue to raise awareness of the dangers of using these apps, and inform women about the importance of fetal movements and what to do if they slow down. 

Read more about monitoring your baby's movements here.

Read more about the risks of home dopplers here.

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