We’ve noticed a worrying rise in the number of mobile apps claiming to be able to monitor your unborn baby’s heartbeat, and now there's even a device that supposedly allows you to do home scans! As with home dopplers, these apps and devices may sound tempting but they are not a safe way to listen to your baby’s heartbeat or check if they are well. That can only be done by a midwife or health professional who has received special training and knows what to listen and look for.
Unless you are professionally trained, it is easy to confuse what you are hearing or seeing and be falsely reassured.
There is also little regulation of these apps and devices, and the claims they make. There is often no way of knowing if the technology has been tested, how it's been tested, and whether any health professionals have been involved.
Our midwife Kate explains:
“When using an app or 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.”
At Tommy’s, we are really concerned by the increase of any unacredited app or device on the market and strongly advise pregnant women against using them. Monitoring your baby’s movements is still the best way for parents to keep an eye on their wellbeing. If you notice a change in your baby’s movements; if they have slowed down or changed pattern then you should contact your maternity unit immediately to be professionally monitored.
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.
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