Hearing Foetal/Baby Heartbeat during Pregnancy

There is little that matches up to the joy of hearing the first foetal heartbeat and parents eagerly wait for this moment. Apart from being an absolute treat to hear, a foetal heartbeat can also be an important indication of your baby’s health. A healthy foetal heartbeat means that your baby is developing just as he should and you have nothing to worry about.

When Will You Hear Your Baby’s Heartbeat For The First Time?

You will first hear your baby’s heartbeat at 6 weeks during your first scan. The transvaginal scan (TVS) may also allow you to watch the heart beat. If you happen to miss your TVS scan, you will be able to hear it at the following appointment using a Doppler. Although around 6 weeks is when the heartbeat starts in the foetus, you may not be able to hear it right away in some cases. You may need to wait until 10 or 12 weeks before you hear a proper healthy heartbeat.

How Is Baby’s Heartbeat Rate Calculated?

The method to calculate a baby’s heartbeat is simple. You will need to count the number of heartbeats in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the number of heartbeats in one minute or 60 seconds. You can also count the number of heartbeats for 10 or 20 seconds and multiply it by 6 or 3 respectively to get the total count for 60 seconds.

What Is the Normal Foetal Heartbeat Rate?

A normal foetal heartbeat rate ranges for 110 to 180 beats per minute (BPM). This may vary in accordance with the movement of the foetus. Your baby’s heartbeat may fluctuate throughout the day and even rise up to 180 or 190. This is normal for babies. However, in case you have any concerns about your baby’s heartbeat range, you can always reach out to your doctor for clarifications.

What Does The Heartbeat Of A Baby Sound Like?

While the foetal heartbeat may sound different to you, most women have stated that it sounds like a thunder of horses galloping. Since the heartbeat is very fast and maybe a little difficult to locate if you are using your own monitor, then you may also hear a swishing sound. This is the sound of the blood flowing through the umbilical cord.

What Does Hearing A Baby’s Healthy Heartbeat Signify?

Hearing your baby’s healthy heartbeat is the first sign that your baby is developing properly. If you can hear a discernible healthy foetal heartbeat at 7 weeks or 8 weeks, you can be assured of the health of your baby.

You can also be less worried about the risk of miscarriage as the chance of miscarriages in a pregnancy where a normal heartbeat has been detected is less than 1 percent.

Different Ways Of Hearing The Heartbeat Of The Baby During Pregnancy

You can hear your baby’s heartbeat using different methods. You can use a few of these methods to listen to your baby’s heartbeat right at home. Some of the common ones are listed below.

1. Use A Stethoscope

One of the simplest ways to listen to your baby’s heartbeat is by using a stethoscope. A good quality stethoscope will be able to help you hear the foetal heartbeat around 18 to 20 weeks. Around this time your baby’s heartbeat will be strong enough for you to hear with a stethoscope.

All you need to do it place the stethoscope on your belly and move it gently until you hear a strong heartbeat. You will need to be patient with this method. It is also not very accurate if the baby’s heartbeat isn’t strong enough.

Use A Stethoscope To Hear Foetal Heartbeat

2. Download An App

Technology has made it easier to for expecting parents to listen to their baby’s heartbeat. You can purchase or download any of the multiple apps available and begin listening to your little one’s heartbeat. You may even have the option of recording the heartbeat to play it back to your family or friends.

This method is more reliable in the later stages of your pregnancy when your baby’s heartbeat is stronger.

3. Get A Foetal Monitor

Purchase a foetal heart rate monitor if you would like to listen to your baby’s heartbeat from home. You can choose an inexpensive one so that you have the choice to listen to the heartbeat in between your doctor’s appointments. You will, however, not be able to pick up a heartbeat until your fifth month of pregnancy as these monitors are not as strong as the ones used by the doctors.

You can consult your doctor before you purchase a foetal heart rate monitor to use at home. Once you get one ensure to follow the instructions carefully for accurate results.

4. Foetal Doppler

Your doctor may use a foetal doppler to detect the heartbeat during your regular check-up. This device has a small probe that the doctor will move around on your belly and once the heartbeat is detected the doppler amplifies the heartbeat using sound waves. This process is entirely painless.

The doppler can detect the heartbeat of the baby in the womb as early as at nine or ten weeks. However, it may even take as long as 12 weeks in some cases.

5. Ultrasound

Your doctor may also schedule an early ultrasound scan which can help you hear your baby’s heart rate around the eighth week of pregnancy. This is usually done if you have a high-risk pregnancy to detect complications early and treat them accordingly.

Can Stress Affect Foetal Heart Rate?

Many studies have indicated that stress and anxiety cause changes in a woman’s heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn affect the heart rate of the foetus. A study published in Development and Behavioural Pediatrics in 2003 confirmed that the change in the cardiovascular activity of the woman brought about by stress and emotional reasons could have real-time effects and the baby. There have also been studies which link stress with the low birth weight of the baby and premature birth in babies. Stress during pregnancy may also have a lasting effect on the functioning and cognitive development of a baby later in life.

Many pregnant women are stressed during pregnancy as they are fearful of the unknown. They are constantly afraid of the progress and the outcome of the pregnancy which accumulates as anxiety and stress. Often, these mothers are able to overcome this stress by monitoring their baby’s heart rate and health using foetal dopplers.

Can You Rent Or Buy Foetal Doppler?

Yes. You can buy or rent foetal dopplers for use at home. There are several models available with different features. Some of them even allow you to record your baby’s heartbeat. However, ensure that the foetal doppler that you are buying or renting is approved by the FDA. You may also want to check with your doctor about the best device to purchase or rent.

Most mothers will agree that listening to an unborn baby’s heartbeat is an exhilarating experience. Since it is also an indication of your baby’s health, ensure that you keep your appointments with your doctor and have it recorded regularly. This can help you catch any anomalies well ahead of time. You can also keep a foetal heart rate monitor with you and record it in between your appointments and reach out to your doctor if you notice anything unusual.

Also Read:

Doppler Scan In Pregnancy
Fast Heartbeat During Pregnancy