Mother and Baby

When can I hear my unborn baby's heartbeat?

When you're pregnant you are often desperate to meet your little one straight away. You want to fast-forward the morning sickness, hefty bump and puffy ankles which have you wearing exclusively flip flops. You want to feel the urge of love and you want the tiny hands. You want the snuggles and to delicately trace your index finger over the gorgeous face your body miraculously created. 

Though you can't speed up a pregnancy, you can feel a zillion times closer to your little one by listening to its heartbeat. 

When can I hear my baby's heartbeat?

The baby's heart starts to beat at just 6 weeks. If you have an early ultrasound scan, you may be able to hear/see your baby's heartbeat at just 8 weeks! It's most common to hear your baby's heartbeat at your 12-week scan, but lots of different factors come into play, such as your baby's position in your uterus, your weight, and the accuracy of your due date.

What is a heartbeat monitor and should I buy one?

A Fetal Doppler (or heartbeat monitor) is a device which can read your unborn baby's heartbeat. 

It works by sending out high-frequency sound waves that pass through your bump and into your baby. When the waves are met with movement, like your baby's heartbeat, they bounce back and is translated into sound for you to hear. 

There are some concerns with how accurate a Fetal Doppler actually is, as anything that moves inside of you (from baby's kicks to blood flowing in your arteries) is also translated into sound, which can lead to incorrect results. 

Is it safe to use a heartbeat monitor at home?

It's not advised to use the device at home without the guidance healthcare professional. Though the technology in the device is safe, the results can be interpreted in different ways.  And the long-term effects of repeatedly exposing a baby to ultrasound waves from these devices are unknown.

The regulation states that a handheld Doppler "should only be used when there's a medical need and only by, or under the supervision of, a healthcare professional."
Rather than buying a heartbeat monitor or downloading a heartbeat tracking app, it's safer to find out how your baby is doing in other ways, such as noting their movements. 

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  • Author: Aimee Jakes Aimee Jakes
  • Job Title: Shopping and Community Editor

Aimee is the Shopping and Community Editor at Bauer Media where she works on fitness, fashion and beauty content across a number of titles such as heat, Closer and Grazia.

Her hobbies include truffle mac and cheese, Class Pass and relentlessly checking (and scolding!) the weather app.

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