A fetal Doppler or a fetal heart rate monitor is a small handheld device that can be used in hospitals clinics or by pregnant moms at home.
A fetal Doppler provides helpful and critical information about the wellbeing of the baby in the womb. A fetal heart rate monitors are small enough to fit in your pocket just like a cell Phone
During labor or during gynecology visit a doctor may use a more advanced Electronic fetal heart rate monitoring machine.
Effective fetal heart rate monitoring could mean the difference between life and death of the mother and/or the baby
In this article, we are going to go through the importance of carrying a fetal Doppler when pregnant.
let's get started
A fetal Doppler is a nonprescription and affordable handheld device that tells the mother the baby's heart rate which is directly correlated with the wellbeing of the baby.
It is important for a pregnant mom to understand the expected heart rate per minute for the baby depending on their age (gestational age).
It is with this knowledge a mother can tell if the baby is in distress and if they need to contact a doctor or a gynecologist immediately
Fetal heart rate beats per minute may increase or decrease slightly based on the baby activity in the womb but not drastically. Any drastic and wide variation out of the expected range may indicate a medical emergency.
By saying this it probably tells you how important it is to have a fetal heart rate monitor at home when expecting a baby
A fetal Doppler is able to detect baby heart rate as early as 5 weeks of pregnancy. The heart is still developing and at 5 weeks you can expect to detect 80-85 beats per minute
This is the earliest their fetal Doppler can detect the heart rate of your baby in the womb. At this time the heart is developing fast and at the end of the 5 weeks, you can expect to detect anywhere between 80 and 103 beats per minute.
That just tells you how fast the heart is developing to have such a change in just one week.
At 6 weeks you can expect to detect anywhere between 103 beats per minute 126 beats per minute
At 7 weeks things get even more dramatic and it becomes very rewarding to the mom to monitor and follow how fast her baby is developing in the uterus.
At this time, you can expect to detect anywhere between 126 beats per minute through 150 beats per minute.
At 8 weeks the heart continues to develop. The baby is now 2 months and your pregnancy is barely noticeable. Most people cannot tell that you're pregnant at this stage.
But guess what, at 8 weeks, you can expect to detect anywhere between 150 beats per minute up to 172 beats per minute.
Notice that this is quite a jump from the beginning of the 5 weeks where you can only detect 80 - 85 beats per minute to 175 BPM.
It's like the heart rate has tripled in 3 weeks only which is a clear indication of how fast the baby is developing in the uterus.
At 9 weeks you can expect to detect anywhere between 155 beats per minute up to 195 beats per minute with an average of 175 beats per minute.
Notice that we have introduced a new number that is an average of 175. That means at 9 weeks you can detect between 155 up to 195 beats per minute is a healthy fetal heart rate.
Pay attention after 12 weeks ... 195 becomes an abnormal heart rate.
The same heart rate is expected for the next 2 weeks when we hit 12 weeks or the end of the 1st trimester. This is at a 3-month-old; pregnancy that is barely visible to very few people.
At 12 weeks moving forward all the way up to time to give birth, you can expect to detect anywhere between 120 up to 180 beats per minute with an average of 150 beats per minute.
After 12 weeks, a heart rate between 160 and 180 for more than 3 minutes continuously is considered mild fetal tachycardia (high heart rate). A heart rate above 180 per minute for more than 3 minutes continuously is considered severe fetal tachycardia and requires immediate medical attention.
It is important to notice that after the 1st trimester the baby heart rate slightly decreases compared to 9 weeks. It is also important to notice that the heart is almost completely developed by 12 weeks and the heart rate does not change much until when the baby is born.
When do you need to consult your doctor based on fetal heart rate readings?
A lot of times you probably do not need to call your doctor during the 1st trimester unless you detect extremely high or extremely low readings against the chart above.
In situations where there is fetal distress during the 1st trimester, other complications, signs, and symptoms are evident, like cramping, bleeding or both. This is what is medically referred to as a threatened miscarriage.
After 12 weeks or after the 1st trimester it is very important to monitor the heart rate of a baby and be able to tell rapid variation in heart rate between days.
For example, if you detected a heart rate of 80 after 6 weeks of pregnancy you might need to call your doctor immediately for a checkup.
A fetal beat of 80 after 6 weeks of pregnancy can be considered too low an indicative of fetal distress or meaning something is wrong with your baby.
On the other side, a fetal heart rate above 180 beats per minute for more than 3 minutes continuously at any given time may indicate fetal distress.