Can You Feel Baby's Heartbeat in Stomach While Pregnant?

Can You Feel Your Baby’s Heartbeat in Your Stomach During Pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

If you are pregnant, no doubt, you must be thrilled. You may have also started imagining about the ‘pregnancy bump’. But in the first trimester of your pregnancy, you won’t have a big belly. You will experience morning sickness, headaches, and cramps. You will experience everything that a woman does during pregnancy, but hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time will make the experience real, especially when you haven’t begun to show yet.

In a couple of months, you might feel a pulsing sensation in your womb and mistake it for your baby’s heartbeat. But is that really the baby’s heartbeat or is it something else? Find out!

Is it Possible to Feel Your Baby’s Heartbeat in Your Stomach?

Feeling a baby’s heartbeat in the womb is a magical experience. However, it should not be confused with the pulsing sensations of the blood vessels. You may experience a pregnancy pulse in the stomach. The pulsing sensation experienced in the stomach during pregnancy is nothing but blood vessels. If you feel a pulsing vibe, it will most likely be the pulse of your abdominal aorta, the large artery which carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the lower part of your body. This aorta pulse will be more prominent in the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy. There will also be an increase in blood volume during pregnancy and your blood vessels will be more relaxed during this time. These changes could lead to a forceful pulse, hence you might notice it. However, it should not be mistaken for the baby’s heartbeat. You won’t be able to notice your baby’s heartbeat up until four weeks of your pregnancy on an ultrasound, and perhaps for several weeks to come, unless an external device is used to feel it.

When Does a Fetus Have a Heartbeat?

You can hear a fetus’ heartbeat once its cardiovascular system has started forming. This usually occurs 5 weeks into the pregnancy. Once the fetus’ cardiovascular system is formed, the heart starts beating shortly. 

When Can Fetal Heartbeat be Heard?

The earliest a fetal heartbeat can be heard is at 5-6 weeks of gestation or pregnancy. This is detected via vaginal ultrasound. However, the fetal heartbeat can better be assessed at 6-7 weeks of pregnancy. 

Reasons Why You Cannot Feel Your Baby’s Heartbeat

As mentioned above, if you feel the pulsing sensation, it will be the pulsing of your abdominal aorta, which will be more prominent during pregnancy. In the early stages of pregnancy, you won’t feel your baby’s heartbeat in the stomach because your baby is protected by his own body, then further shielded by amniotic fluid, the amniotic sac, your uterus, muscles, and the skin of your body.

During the first four weeks of your pregnancy, you will not feel his heartbeat in your womb because his heart will begin to develop roughly three weeks after conception and will develop completely by four to five weeks. Also, the force of contraction in such a minuscule heart will virtually be indiscernible because of so much cushioning around it. Even at full-term gestation, when your baby’s heart will most likely be beating at 110 to 150 beats per minute, it will be impossible for you to feel his heartbeat without an external device.

Is it Possible to Hear a Baby’s Heartbeat With a Stethoscope?

Although it is possible to hear the heartbeat of a baby in the womb using a stethoscope, you may not be able to hear it as clear as you do at the doctor’s clinic. You can hear your baby’s heartbeat using a stethoscope after the 18-20th week of gestation. 

How Does a Doctor Check Baby’s Heartbeat?

During pregnancy, your doctor will conduct a transvaginal scan. A transvaginal ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to project as-is images of a pregnant woman’s internal organs. The sound waves help create the image of the foetus. Your doctor will most likely suggest a Doppler scan to check your baby’s heartbeat around the twelfth week of your pregnancy. He will detect the baby’s heartbeat using a Doppler device, which helps detect the heartbeat of the foetus easily.

Reasons Why the Doctor may not be Able to Detect the Baby’s Heartbeat

The first rule is to not panic. There are many reasons why your doctor may not be able to detect your baby’s heartbeat. Here are some reasons why:

  • It’s too early to detect a heartbeat.
  • You may have a retroverted uterus, due to which the baby can be just a little further away and harder to detect.
  • You’re overweight, causing there to be extra padding between the ultrasound wand and the baby.
  • You may have experienced a miscarriage.
  • You may be having an ectopic pregnancy. 

It is important that you monitor your baby’s heart rate during pregnancy to rule out any anomalies. It can help in detecting an anaemic baby, abruption of the placenta, and poor oxygen supply. Go for timely scans to monitor your baby’s heartbeat and to keep track of his growth. Also, keep track of your baby’s kicks, and let your doctor know if you notice anything unusual.

Also Read: When Do Pregnant Women Feel Fetal Movements

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