The heart of a baby is beating as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy. By week 20, most women can feel their baby’s heartbeat. If you’re pregnant and curious about heart development in your growing baby, do not worry—there’s a good chance you’ll be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope by week 30-32. Here’s everything you need to know about fetal heart rate monitoring and how you can use a stethoscope to do it at home.
There’s a reason why doctors prefer fetal heart rate (FHR) testing over ultrasound for detecting fetal heart rate—ultrasounds are not that accurate until week 8, while fetal heart rate is detectable from week 10 onward. Besides, ultrasound scans have radiation risks and aren’t considered safe during the first trimester of pregnancy. So if you’re between 7-12 weeks pregnant, FHR should be your go-to test for heart development.
When can you detect a baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope?
Down to 20 weeks of fetal age, a fetal heartbeat can be detected using a standard stethoscope. The fetal heartbeat is audible as a ‘lub-dub’ sound. It gets louder with use, and it’s not easy to detect at first but becomes quite pronounced by 20 weeks of gestational age.
A fetal doppler is used to detect the heartbeat at checkups as early as 9-10 weeks. The doppler will trace the sound of the fetal heartbeat across the abdomen to confirm its presence or absence. At 15-16 weeks gestation, a fetal heart rate can be detected using an ultrasound, especially if there is any concern about fetal health. A Doppler will pinpoint the heartbeat on the screen more accurately than an ultrasound. However, dopplers cannot be used at home due to inaccurate readings and potential harm to unborn babies from improper use of medical equipment.
How to use a stethoscope to hear your baby’s heartbeat
You can use a stethoscope to hear your baby’s heartbeat after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The doppler is a special device that can be used to detect the heartbeat of a baby before birth. A foetal doppler device can be used at home to detect your baby’s heartbeat as early as 9-10 weeks of pregnancy. It’s an easy way to check the heartbeat and is a good option for people who aren’t comfortable going to the doctor’s office.
To use a stethoscope, you’ll need to purchase one at a medical store or drugstore. An ear-piece stethoscope is easiest to use, but you can also use a chest piece stethoscope if you prefer. After purchasing your stethoscope, it’s important to familiarize yourself with how it works and how to use it properly. You should always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and read any health guides or manuals that come with your stethoscope before using it for the first time.
Where do you get a stethoscope?
Stethoscopes are a vital medical tool used to listen to the sounds made by organs and structures in the body. Buying one can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Quality stethoscopes can be found at drugstores, uniform stores, and medical supply stores. It’s important to read reviews and product descriptions when shopping for one.
Look for stethoscopes that are lightweight and have good acoustic and audibility quality. This will ensure that you get a high-quality stethoscope at a fair price. The size of the tube also matters, as larger tubes allow sound to travel faster to the earpiece. Stethoscopes can also be purchased online, where they’re often cheaper than in stores. However, it’s important to read reviews and product descriptions before making a purchase.
What to do if you can’t hear the heartbeat?
If you’re unable to hear your baby’s heartbeat through a stethoscope, don’t panic. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your baby.
Instead, it may be due to a number of factors, such as position or placement of the baby during diagnosis time or an underlying heart defect. These can affect the ability to hear the heartbeat.
You can also try positioning your belly to approximate the fetal position and placing a simple doppler app on your abdomen.
Other methods for hearing the heartbeat without a doppler include using ear-to-abdomen approach, calling your OB-GYN’s office for assistance, or using a fetal doppler.
Remember not to Panic if you cannot hear your baby’s heartbeat through a stethoscope!
When does your baby have a heartbeat?
A baby’s heartbeat can be heard at different stages of pregnancy. The earliest pulses of a baby’s cardiac cells start to form around 22 days after conception, and a first trimester ultrasound can detect embryonic cardiac activity at week 6. At this time, the chambers of the baby’s heart can be seen more clearly by weeks 17 to 20 of pregnancy. A foetal doppler can detect the heartbeat of the baby in the womb from as early as 9 or 10 weeks, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that baby’s cardiac tissue starts to form within 8 weeks of pregnancy. Overall, it’s important for pregnant women to visit their healthcare provider if they notice any changes in their baby’s heartbeat or other signs of distress.
Is It Safe To Use A Stethoscope While Pregnant?
– According to, stethoscopes can be used to hear a baby’s heartbeat from 18th to 20th weeks of pregnancy.
– states that most doctors don’t end up using stethoscopes anymore due to the advancement of ultrasound and doppler.
– suggests that a stethoscope can be placed on the belly at 20 weeks and beyond to hear the baby’s sounds.
– states that you can purchase a stethoscope at most drugstores, uniform stores, medical supply stores and hospital shops.
– According to many practitioners, doctors and midwives have lost the skill of using a stethoscope due to technological advancements. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to learn how to use one correctly so that you can detect any problems with your baby’s heartbeat easily.
When can you hear your baby’s heartbeat?
You can usually hear a baby’s heartbeat as early as 5-6 weeks of fetal life through ultrasound images. After 20 weeks of gestational age, a baby’s heart activity is often audible using a stethoscope. A fetal doppler ultrasound device is more reliable at 15 weeks of gestation and can be used to detect the heartbeat at that point. At-home fetal dopplers are not as reliable and can cause unnecessary scares and misinterpretations, so they’re not recommended for pregnant women.
A stethoscope is a simple and efficient way of detecting fetal heart tones. However, it’s not a medical device. If a baby’s heartbeat is faint or distorted, professional medical help must be sought as soon as possible. In case you’re unable to hear your baby’s heart rate with a stethoscope, visit a doctor immediately. There are other heart rate tests that can be used instead of a stethoscope to detect fetal heart rate such as fetal doppler ultrasound or fetal biophysical profile.