What Is a Fetal Doppler?
An at-home fetal Doppler—sometimes referred to as a pocket fetal Doppler—is a handheld baby heart monitor designed to help you hear baby’s heartbeat. The device sends sound waves through your skin and tissue in search of any movement. When movement is detected, the waves bounce back, creating a pattern, which the fetal Doppler records and plays back for you.
If you’re wondering how fetal dopplers work, their technology is based on the “doppler effect,” discovered by Christian Doppler, an Austrian mathematician and physicist. To put it simply, the fetal doppler probe sends ultrasound waves into the lower belly. These waves are reflected from the fetal heart, the doppler detects the frequency change and it’s converted into a sound.
Although the at-home models may be relatively new, fetal dopplers have been around since the late ‘50s when they were invented by physician and scientist Edward H. Hon. Since then, they have been used mainly by doctors and midwives.
Since the waves emitted by a fetal doppler are about 40 times lower than those emitted from an ultrasound machine, the device can safely be used at home. In addition, all of Baby Doppler’s fetal dopplers are FDA approved.
Are Fetal Dopplers Safe?
When used by a trained health professional, fetal heart Dopplers are entirely safe.
In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised against the use of at-home fetal Doppler monitors since 2014, noting that devices used to listen to baby’s heartbeat are legally marketed as “prescription devices” and should be used only by trained operators.
"When the product is purchased over the counter and used without consultation with the health care professional taking care of the pregnant woman, there is no oversight of how the device is used,” which raises any potential risks to baby and mom, the FDA says. Therefore, it is safe.
Benefits of Using a Fetal Doppler
More and more pregnant women are beginning to use a fetal doppler at home for various reasons.
Firstly, many mothers-to-be stress over the health of their fetus. Is he or she okay? How can I be sure nothing is wrong? If you’re a first-time mother and aren’t sure what to expect or if you’ve had previous miscarriages, this can become particularly stressful. Chronic stress may affect the health of you or your baby, so keeping your anxiety levels to a minimum is ideal. Using a fetal doppler can help calm your nerves and reassure you that your baby is okay. While it cannot replace doctor’s appointments, it can be used in between to let you know that your baby is still healthy. Many mothers report feeling a lift of anxiety once they hear their baby’s heartbeat.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it is possible that a fetal doppler could detect a problem and alert you to go to the doctors, possibly saving your baby.
Another reason some pregnant women love using a fetal doppler is that it allows a unique bonding experience. It not only allows the mother to connect with her baby but also her partner, friends and family. Listening to the heartbeat of a tiny fetus is a fun and meaningful experience that future grandparents and relatives are often amazed by. Since you’re the only one who can experience your pregnancy, your partner may feel left out at times; however, the fetal doppler allows him to feel more connected to his child.