What is a Prenatal Heart Listener?

Haven Esme

A prenatal heart listener is often referred to as a prenatal heart monitor or a fetal heart doppler. The device is very common, and used to listen to the heartbeat of a baby while they are still in the womb. Expectant parents can normally start hearing their baby’s heartbeat with a prenatal heart listener as early as eight weeks. Some parents may not detect the heartbeat until the 10th to 12th week of pregnancy.

A baby's heart rate will usually be measured at each prenatal appointment.
A baby's heart rate will usually be measured at each prenatal appointment.

Obstetricians and midwives typically use prenatal heart listeners to determine if a child’s heartbeat is healthy and strong. A baby’s heart rate is typically measured at each prenatal appointment throughout pregnancy. With a digital fetal doppler, the number of heartbeats per minute will appear on a screen. If the monitor isn’t digital, it is necessary to count the number of heartbeats manually.

The first time a baby's heartbeat is heard is often very exciting for expecting parents.
The first time a baby's heartbeat is heard is often very exciting for expecting parents.

A prenatal doppler is relatively easy to use. The device works by using a probe to detect sound waves produced by the baby’s heart. The sound waves are not easy to hear, so a gel or water solution is usually applied to the stomach to better detect the heartbeat.

Women who have high-risk pregnancies may benefit from prenatal heart listeners.
Women who have high-risk pregnancies may benefit from prenatal heart listeners.

There are some benefits to using a prenatal heart listener. For example, women that have a high-risk pregnancy or have experienced a previous miscarriage may need extra reassurance throughout their pregnancy. A prenatal heart listener can give a woman peace of mind and ease any anxiety and stress about the pregnancy. The heart monitor can also serve sentimental purposes. Some parents record their child’s heartbeat as a special keepsake.

Research indicates that fetal heart dopplers are perfectly safe to use. They do not cause any harm or stress to the baby. Although monitors are safe, it is still wise to make sure that the federal government or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the prenatal heart listener. FDA approval ensures that the prenatal heart listener can be used continuously without complications.

Prenatal heart listeners range widely in price, depending on the quality of the monitor. Some parents decide to rent a doppler for a small fee. Renting is usually a reasonable option for parents that only want to use the listener temporarily.

There are two main types of prenatal heart listeners. The main types include medical grade, and at-home heart listeners. Medical grade heart listeners are usually more expensive; however, they allow the expectant parents better quality sound when listening to the heartbeat.

A prenatal heart listener may use doppler ultrasound technology.
A prenatal heart listener may use doppler ultrasound technology.

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