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How an At Home Fetal Doppler Ruins Your Day

Erica bought a BISTOS Fetal Doppler the other day. After her using it for the first time, I was ready to use it on myself b/c I thought I was having a heart attack.  Here's the problem:

 1. I'm a guy and have no idea what a fetal doppler even is. When I hear the words "Fetal Doppler" I instantly think of a weather map and a 5 day forecast showing us how much rain and cloud coverage we are going to get.

2. Said being a guy, I don’t know how to use one and quite frankly I’m not sure if Erica even read the directions. It’s pretty self explanatory. All you do is turn it on, put some of that gel on your buddy and slap the microphone thing (Hey I come from radio) on your belly and you hear a heartbeat.

Well , Erica tells me the baby has a heart rate of 112.  2 weeks earlier at her first ultrasound it was like 150 something…where it should be.  She tells me this after she does it so I never actually see her do it.  Alarms start going off in my mind that something is wrong b/c we were told a real slow heartbeat means bad news…then again, the nurse was using numbers like 80’s, etc.     What do I do ? The stupidest thing imaginable: I go on the internet to search for “baby hear rate at 11 weeks”.   After reading a bunch of forums written by people with ZERO nursing knowledge, I decide to call the doctor and let them know and ask them if there is anything we should do.

While waiting for a call back , Erica actually   decides to use the doppler again to show me how it works. As she is using it on her stomach area, I’m watching heart rates go from 66 to 150, to 80, to 40, to 125…it’s like taking a metal detector and searching for metal and hearing all the different frequencies going off because it’s all over the place… I kind of felt better because I was certain the reading earlier at 112 wasn’t accurate.

The nurse called E back and said there was “nothing to worry about”. With no fever or other symptoms, everything should be fine. Although the Fetal Doppler is reliable, she is so early in her pregnancy and the baby is so small  that the heartbeat is faint so you may not really hear it as well as you need to. Plus we questioned if some of the rate was from Erica’s actual heart.

Needless to say…fetal doppler….great idea…just not for the dad to be to listen to without doing all the research first and understanding all the variables the nurse told us in regards to the readings.   Now off to check my blood pressure…

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7 Comments on How an At Home Fetal Doppler Ruins Your Day

  1. Some Helpful Tips When You First Use Your Fetal Doppler Monitor
    • A full bladder can help you find the fetal heartbeat more easily.
    • Early in pregnancy begin in the middle of the abdomen, in line with the belly button just above the pubic hair line (think just above your bikini line). Or if you’ve heard the baby’s heartbeat at the doctor’s office begin where your doctor located it.
    • Pick up and place the probe angling it at different degrees rather than dragging it around. If you drag the probe you will cause static as well as scan over the heartbeat.
    • Once you’ve placed the probe tilt the face of the probe downward towards your feet.
    • Be sure to use plenty of ultrasound gel. Re-apply gel if you have been using the Fetal Doppler Monitor for some time as it dries out relatively quickly.
    • Tilt the Fetal Doppler Monitor probe downwards towards the pubic bone.
    • Move the Fetal Doppler Monitor probe VERY SLOWLY until you pick up the heartbeat.
    • For best results keep the transducer handle as still as possible to maintain a steady signal. It is common for the Fetal Doppler Monitor to pick up the heartbeat in two different places – do not be alarmed. As your pregnancy progresses gradually place the probe higher up on your abdomen.
    • The fetal heartbeat sounds like the hoof beats of a galloping horse. If you hear a whooshing sound this is the sound of the placenta.
    • The fetal heart rate is usually between 140 and 160 beats per minute, approximately twice that of the mother’s heart rate. But the heart rate varies depending upon the time of day and the amount of the baby’s activity.
    • You can usually hear the baby’s heartbeat from about twelve weeks, sometimes you can hear it as early as ten weeks.
    • It can take a bit of practice before you can quickly locate the baby’s heartbeat. Even midwives sometimes find it difficult to locate the heartbeat. If you are having difficulty in picking up the baby’s heartbeat, there could be a number of reasons for this: poor quality of signal due to the handle position, fetal position, maternal position or fetal or maternal movement. Too little gel or noise or other interference can also affect the monitor’s ability to pick up the heartbeat. Remember that in the early stages of pregnancy the fetus is still quite small (approximately 5cm at 12 weeks) and so locating the heartbeat is not always easy. Just relax and don’t worry. Your stress is never good for the baby. If you ever have any questions about your babies health, please be sure to consult your healthcare provider.

  2. dadastrophic // July 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm //

    Thanks for the copy And paste. Fantastic customer service.

  3. It’s nice to know that you are so hands on when it comes to your baby and pregnant wife. Well you just have to be prepared and research more on information about fetal heartbeat to avoid high blood pressure :) in anyways great post every new parents has the same dilemna.

  4. Thanks Stacey. It’s an interesting ride. I wish I had more to write about more often, I’m getting there! Trying to post at least once a week! We find out the sex next week so that will be fun. Once the baby is born I plan on trying to post even the smallest thing once a day! HOpe you join me for the ride! Thanks! Chris.

  5. Can’t wait for your next post and good luck with the baby’s gender whichever it is congratulations for your precious little one. :)

  6. thanks!!!! We find out Tuesday. I’ll post don’t worry, LOL! Thanks for the kind words.

  7. LOL Relax your doing a great job. The blood pressure and stress is just getting you ready for WHEN the baby comes. I have had my monitor for 6 years now and I love it! I was able to find my baby’s heartbeat at 8 wks, but then again I’m on #4 so I kind of know what I’m doing and you really need a lot of paticeants to find it that early, it can take quite some time. However, why I’m posting, no offense but that is y a lot of OBs say not to use one cause they get so many calls when people can’t find the heart rate or they think the heart rate is too low. If you are concerend wait till you next appointment before you start to worry! Happy monitoring!

    I always!!!! Recommend this monitor to all of my friends and pregnant women looking at the monitors at the stores, you know the ones you can’t really hear or use till the third trimester! Thank you soooo much for making these available to us eager mommy’s to be for home use!

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