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Hearing the baby’s heartbeat during pregnancy can be an exciting experience for parents-to-be. It is one of those moments an expectant couple wait for eagerly. If you are pregnant, no doubt, you will be eager to hear your baby’s heartbeat too. A healthy foetal heartbeat means that a baby is developing just as he should. Read this article to know when will you get to hear your baby’s heartbeat.
When Can You Hear Your Baby’s Heartbeat for the First Time?
While pregnant, you will get to hear your baby’s heartbeat at 6 weeks, during your first scan. Your baby’s heart can be detected by conducting a transvaginal scan (TVS). Your doctor can also suggest a Doppler scan to detect the baby’s heartbeat. But sometimes, you may not hear it around 6 weeks and you might have to wait until 10 or 12 weeks before you hear a proper healthy heartbeat.
How Is Baby’s Heart 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 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 Rate of Foetal Heartbeat?
A normal foetal heart rate is between 120 and 160 beats per minute (BPM). But 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 heart rate, you can always reach out to your doctor for clarification.
What Does a Baby’s Heartbeat Sound Like?
Most women say that foetal heartbeat sounds like the thunder of galloping horses. The foetal heartbeat is very fast and can be a little difficult to locate if one is using their own monitor. If you are trying to monitor at home, you may also hear a swishing sound. However, this is the sound of the blood flowing through the uterine vessels.
What Is a Healthy Heartbeat?
If you hear your baby’s heartbeat properly and the heart rate is normal, it means that he has a healthy heartbeat and it is a sign that he is developing properly. If you hear the foetal heartbeat at 7 weeks or 8 weeks, it also indicates that he is growing as per the schedule and that he is in good health. A healthy foetal heartbeat also lowers the chances of a miscarriage.
Different Ways to Hear Baby’s Heartbeat During Pregnancy
A baby’s heartbeat can be heard with the help of various instruments and apps. Some of the common ones are listed below.
1. 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 is place the stethoscope on your belly and move it gently until you hear a strong heartbeat. You will need to be patient while trying out this method. It may not prove to be accurate if your baby’s heartbeat isn’t strong enough.
Technology has made it easier to for expecting parents to listen to their baby’s heartbeat. There are now hundreds of apps available that you can download on your smartphone that will enable you to hear your baby’s heartbeat. Some apps also provide the option of recording the heartbeat. You can record your baby’s heartbeat and play it back for your family or friends. Apps are more reliable in the later stages of pregnancy when the baby’s heartbeat is stronger. However, this technique is best avoided as cell phone radiation can prove to be harmful to your baby’s health.
3. A Foetal Monitor
You can even purchase a foetal heart rate monitor to listen to your baby’s heartbeat at 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 buy one, ensure that you follow the instructions carefully for accurate results.
4. A Foetal Doppler
Your doctor may use a foetal doppler to detect the heartbeat during your regular checkups. This device has a small probe that the doctor will move around on your belly and once the heartbeat is detected, he will amplify 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 nine or ten weeks. However, it may even take as long as 12 weeks in some cases.
5. An 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?
Studies have indicated that stress and anxiety can lead to changes in a woman’s heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn can affect the heart rate of the foetus. 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 get stressed during pregnancy. 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 a 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 have the option of recording the 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.
Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time can be an exhilarating experience for you. A healthy heartbeat is an indication that a baby is developing well. Ensure that you keep your appointments with your doctor and monitor your baby’s heartbeat from time to time. 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.