Curious about using an at-home fetal Doppler?
We’ll explore the fetal heart Doppler risks and how to use a fetal Doppler ‒ safely.
A fetal Doppler promises to get right to the heart of your pregnancy.
A baby Doppler is a handheld baby heart monitor—so getting to the heart of the matter is what it’s supposed to do.
And that probably sounds rather enticing.
Hearing your baby’s heartbeat?
While they’re still on the inside?
Whenever you like?
Well, that’s pretty special.
But, while the fetal heart Doppler is widely available for at-home use (and from your local pharmacy at an affordable price), this kind of technology is best used by trained professionals.
Let’s take a look at the details.
In this article: 📝
- What does a fetal Doppler measure?
- Are Dopplers safe during pregnancy?
- How to use a fetal Doppler
- How many weeks do you have to be to use a fetal Doppler?
- Tips for finding fetal heartbeat with Doppler
- Is it safe to use a fetal Doppler at home?
- How can I check my baby’s heartbeat at home without a Doppler?
- What are the best fetal Dopplers?
What does a fetal Doppler measure?
A Doppler scan in pregnancy is performed with the aid of some special gel and a device called a transducer.
Your doc can measure blood flow and see whether everything is developing as it should for your little one.
Amazingly, a Doppler scan makes use of sonic technology to provide real-time imaging.
By bouncing sound waves off your baby’s blood circulation system, the sonographer will be able to get a visual picture of how the blood is flowing.
Because a fetal Doppler is done by people who went to school for this kinda thing, it’s far safer than its at-home counterpart and can give you a good indication of how your baby is getting along.
Can you hear baby moving on Doppler?
Yes, you can hear baby moving on a fetal heart Doppler.
But you’re most likely to hear both yours and your baby’s heartbeats ‒ that unmistakable thump-thump.
However, you may hear a sort of ‘whooshing’ sound ‒ that’s baby moving!
Why do I hear two heartbeats on my Doppler?
Don’t panic, mama, hearing two heartbeats on a fetal Doppler doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having twins!
If you’re hearing a second heartbeat that’s much slower than baby’s quick pitter-patter, that’s yours.
But there is always a possibility…
Can you find twins with a Doppler?
Yes, you can find out you’re pregnant with twins from a fetal heart Doppler.
But it’s hard to tell if you’re using an at-home fetal Doppler.
If you’re not sure, it’s best to leave it to the professionals ‒ they heart baby’s heartbeats for a living, so they’ll know if you’re expecting two bundles of joy.
Are Dopplers safe during pregnancy?
When done by a medical professional, yes, fetal Dopplers are safe.
However, if you choose to use an at-home fetal Doppler, there is a chance you could read it incorrectly ‒ as it can be hard to hear or distinguish heartbeats.
It’s also a form of ultrasound scan, which means that baby could be subjected to minimal amounts of heat, which can be dangerous for baby if done repeatedly.
So, yes, fetal Dopplers are safe, particularly when done by a medical professional, and sometimes at home, when done correctly and sparingly.
Can Doppler cause miscarriage?
However, the study only looked at minimal uses of a baby Doppler, rather than longer-term exposure to Doppler scans.
So if you want to use an at-home fetal Doppler, the advice is to use it sparingly and use it correctly.
How often can you use a fetal Doppler?
So we know that using a fetal Doppler too much can be dangerous for baby.
But how much is too much?
Ideally, it should only take a couple of minutes to find baby’s heartbeat, and when you find it, listen for just 30 seconds more, maximum.
But how often should you do this? Around once a week is the most you should use a fetal Doppler.
How to use a fetal Doppler
An at-home baby Doppler is supposed to act as something like a sonic detective.
Sound waves enter through your skin membranes and go on a hunt for movement.
Once they find something significant, they record the pattern and play it back to you.
And, as the story goes, this is how you will hear your baby’s heartbeat.
Where should I place my Doppler at 8 weeks?
At 8 weeks, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where baby is ‒ they’re only about half an inch long!
But generally, you can get the best ‘view’ of baby on a fetal heart Doppler from around the middle of your pubic bone area.
Go slow, moving the fetal Doppler from left to right, so you don’t miss that heartbeat.
Where should I place my Doppler at 10 weeks?
Baby is only just over an inch big by 10 weeks, so don’t worry if you can’t find them on your at-home fetal Doppler this soon.
Other noises can drown out baby, but just take your time.
Start at your pubic bone area ‒ as low as you can get until you feel your bone ‒ and slowly, gently, work your way from left to right, going upward, until you find your babe’s heartbeat!
How many weeks do you have to be to use a fetal Doppler?
Doctors tend to use a fetal heart Doppler from about 8-10 weeks of your pregnancy.
However, it’s recommended not to use an at-home baby Doppler until 12 weeks of pregnancy.
This is because it can be hard to detect a heartbeat earlier than that, and you don’t want to expose baby to any more ultrasound waves than you need to.
When can you hear baby heartbeat with Doppler?
Generally, you can hear baby’s heartbeat on a fetal Doppler from about 8 weeks of pregnancy.
But if you’ve not used a fetal Doppler before, you may only hear their heartbeat from 12 weeks if you’re using an at-home fetal Doppler.
Can you hear a fetal heartbeat at 7 weeks with a Doppler?
Not often, no ‒ a doctor may be able to hear baby’s heartbeat from 7 weeks with a baby Doppler, but not necessarily.
Where can I find a baby heartbeat with a Doppler at 9 weeks?
It might be too early to hear baby’s heartbeat with a fetal Doppler at 9 weeks.
But your best chances are going to be at the base of your abdomen ‒ close to your pubic bone.
Why can’t I hear my baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler?
Don’t panic if you can’t hear baby’s heartbeat with an at-home fetal Doppler.
Chances are, baby’s just hiding in a place the Doppler can’t get to properly.
Or you have heard it, but you can’t separate it from the other noises in your body.
Plus, if you’re using an at-home Doppler before 12 weeks, they’re not all that reliable, so it might take a medical professional to find that elusive heartbeat.
Why can’t I hear my baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler at 12 weeks?
If you’re using an at-home fetal Doppler and you can’t hear baby’s heartbeat at 12 weeks, don’t fret.
It can still be hard to hear a heartbeat this early, especially if your ears aren’t attuned to detecting that little thrum of a tiny heartbeat.
Plus, your uterus is still pretty small at this point and it might be hidden beneath your pubic bone, making it hard to find the right angle for a fetal Doppler.
What’s the earliest you can use a fetal Doppler?
Before we get to answering this question, real talk: when it comes to the health and well-being of your baby, separating marketing myth from reality can be hard.
Of course you want to be reassured.
Of course you want to form a bond with your baby as early as possible.
Of course you want to know (at any time of the day or night) how your baby is doing in there. It’s your motherly instincts kicking in!
The at-home baby Doppler claims to provide this peace of mind, from the time your little one is but an 8-week-old speck in your uterus.
But this sort of certainty should be seasoned with a big handful of salt.
(If, on the other hand, you want your doc to perform a Doppler scan, well that’s different. This professionally conducted ultrasound can be done from about 8 weeks to detect the well-being of your baby. More on that later!)
Tips for finding fetal heartbeat with Doppler
We asked our Peanut mamas for their tips for using an at-home fetal Doppler, and they didn’t disappoint:
- Move slowly. Like, really slowly.
- Start low ‒ if it’s your first trimester, baby’s more likely to be lower.
- Learn the rhythm of your own heartbeat to separate it from baby’s.
- Don’t pee beforehand! A full bladder is your friend here.
- Record the whole thing, so you can capture your joy when you find baby’s heartbeat.
- Don’t do it too often ‒ hearing baby’s heartbeat can be addictive, but doing it more than once a week for a few minutes can be dangerous for them.
Is it safe to use a fetal Doppler at home?
So what are the dangers involved in using an at-home fetal heart Doppler? Let’s take a look.
If you’re wondering whether using a fetal Doppler should come with a “Don’t Try This At Home” warning, the answer is that you should definitely proceed with caution.
There are certain risk factors to employing a baby Doppler during your pregnancy.
Here’s why it might be best to leave it up to the professionals:
- A fetal Doppler can cause unnecessary panic. Not being able to detect your baby’s heartbeat can be a serious cause of stress. However, this may just be the result of device usage rather than having anything to do with your baby’s health.
- A fetal Doppler can give you a false sense of security. Conversely, you may be lulled into thinking that all is well when, in fact, there may be reasons to check in with your doc.
In fact, while the FDA has approved these handheld devices for use, they specifically state that they should be used by trained professionals.
If you’re not too keen to jump into DIY heart monitoring, reaching out to your healthcare provider can help.
Can fetal Dopplers harm baby?
When used properly, for no more than a few minutes once a week, baby should be perfectly fine with an at-home fetal Doppler.
How can I check my baby’s heartbeat at home without a Doppler?
It is possible to hear baby’s heartbeat without a fetal heart Doppler, but you’ll have to wait until later in pregnancy.
What are the best fetal Dopplers?
If you’re keen to hear baby’s heartbeat, we’ve got you covered, mama.
Here are the best at-home fetal Dopplers, according to our Peanut moms:
- Sonoline B Fetal Doppler: This is the best fetal Doppler on the market, according to our Peanut moms. Pricey, but effective from 12 weeks, and it comes with a fetal Doppler monitor and fetal doppler gel. Price: $69.95
- Dixie EMS Fetal Stethoscope: Okay, so it’s not technically a fetal Doppler, but it can be a fantastic addition to your pregnancy shopping list from 20 weeks to hear baby’s heartbeat whenever you want. Price: $15.99
Where to buy fetal Dopplers
Where can I buy a fetal Doppler in-store?
There are a few places you can find a fetal Doppler ‒ Walmart, Walgreens, Target, CVS, and other pharmacies tend to carry them.
Or you can head to Amazon ‒ whatever works for you, mama-to-be.
How much is a fetal Doppler?
At your local pharmacy, you can expect to pick up an at-home fetal Doppler for about $40, but they may not be the best quality.
The best fetal Doppler, according to our Peanut mamas, is the Sonoline B Fetal Doppler, which comes in at $69.95 (at the time of writing).
So that’s all there is to know about fetal Dopplers!
Got any other questions about hearing your little peanut’s heartbeat for the first time (or second, third, fourth…)?
Feel free to ask our moms of Peanut!