Hearing your baby’s heartbeat is an amazing experience, so you don’t want a simple mistake to dull the magic.
If you’re a new fetal heartbeat monitor user, there’s several things to take note of to detect your baby easily.
These common mistakes can make finding a heartbeat more difficult.
DON’T Do This: Fetal Doppler for Home Use
New to fetal dopplers for home use? There’s a few things you should know before you get started. Avoid these new user pitfalls to detect the clearest heartbeat every time.
#1 Don’t Use Too Early
Many first-time users wonder, when can you hear a heartbeat with a fetal doppler?
Starting at 12 weeks, many people can hear a heartbeat using a fetal doppler. However, the first time you can hear it varies by person.
Some women can use an at home fetal doppler at 10 weeks, although that shouldn’t be expected. Others need to wait until 14 weeks. It all depends on your baby, your body and how you’re using the device. If you’re using the fetal doppler correctly, you might need to wait until your baby grows bigger or switches positions.
#2 Don’t Use Without Gel
To use a fetal doppler, you’ll need some type of lubricant to make it work. This helps the probe glide. More importantly, it creates a barrier that allows sound waves to travel easier. Even if you’re able to use a doppler without lubrication, the friction will create too much static. Be liberal with your gel.
The number one lubricant to use with a fetal doppler is ultrasound gel. As you know, it’s commonly used in hospital ultrasounds to enhance sound.
If you’re in a pinch, check out these 8 Ultrasound Gel Alternatives. All lubricants aren’t created equal though. While these products may work, they likely won’t transmit sound as well as an ultrasound gel. They also might be more difficult to wipe off your probe. For example, cleaning off oil residue is harder than wiping off ultrasound gel.
For the best performance, it’s worth spending $7 on an ultrasound gel.
#3 Don’t Use Too Much Gel
It’s also possible to use too much gel. Remember: It’s gel, not a moisturizing cream.
While you need to use enough to eliminate static, using too much means the air gets trapped and the waves can’t properly pass through the doppler. This leads to a lot of static.
If you’re ever experiencing too much static, ask yourself if you’re using too much or too little lubrication.
#4 Don’t Stand Up When Using
There’s a reason you lay down during an ultrasound, so you should be reclined when using a fetal doppler too. Place a few pillows on your bed or sofa and relax. This pushes your stomach and uterus up, making it easier to detect your baby.
#5 Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure
If you press harder with the probe, will it pick up the sound easier? No. Will it bring the probe closer to the baby? Also no. In fact, it could make it harder to detect your baby using a fetal doppler for home use.
When you move the probe, be gentle. It should be placed on your belly, but not sunk into it.
#6 Don’t Side—Rock Instead
When many people use a fetal doppler, they slowly slide the probe around. It’s possible to find your baby this way, but it’s not the most effective technique.
If you watch the technician during an ultrasound, you might notice that they tend to rock the probe as opposed to pushing it. That’s because rocking allows them to hit different angles. In your case, this can help you pinpoint your baby. This is an especially great tip for those having a difficult time detecting a heartbeat.
Next time you use your doppler, try moving it in a slow, gentle, rocking motion. You want to cover each little space before moving onto the next belly section.
#7 Don’t Start Too High
After applying ultrasound gel, start at your lower abdomen. The earlier you are in your pregnancy, the lower you’ll probably need to go.
Keep moving upward, covering all the spots, until you find your baby.
#8 Don’t Use On Empty Bladder
Technically, you can use a fetal doppler on an empty bladder, it just might be harder to detect your baby.
If it’s your first time trying the device, or if you’re having a hard time detecting your baby, one of our best tips is to have a full bladder. Naturally, this might happen first thing in the morning. If not, try to plan ahead: Drink a relaxing pregnancy tea before a doppler session.
#9 Don’t Let Residue Build Up
When you’re wiping your probe off, make sure to get all of the gel. Even a thin layer can build up with use.
Although you may not notice right away, residue can affect your experience with the doppler. When dried product is on the probe, it can’t transmit sound as effectively. This makes the heart beat harder to hear.
To completely clean the probe, use a paper towel or cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Let air dry or wipe.
#10 Don’t Use Cleaning Chemicals
To get all the residue off of your probe, you can use rubbing alcohol. However, you should not use any cleaning products. Other solutions may impact the device.
Also, do not submerge your fetal doppler into water. Cleaning it with a paper towel or cloth is fine.
#11 Don’t Panic
If it’s your first time using a doppler, consider it practice. You may or may not find a heartbeat right away. You may or may not be using it correctly. That’s okay—you’ll learn after a few sessions. Try not to feel anxious or frustrated.
If you normally hear your baby using your fetal doppler and you can’t right now, it can be worrisome. Try not to panic though. Consider that there’s several non-health-related reasons why you might not be detecting your baby. For example, if your baby moved to a new position, it may be harder to hear. Another possibility is that your baby is too small. While you may detect her sometimes, it could be unreliable until she grows bigger
Typically, if you don’t detect a heartbeat, you should put the fetal doppler away and try another day. However, if you’re concerned, especially if it’s accompanied by other signs, you should talk to your doctor right away. For example, if you’ve been counting kicks and you haven’t felt any today, you should seek urgent care.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, it’s worth remembering that you aren’t a trained medical professional. The fetal doppler can provide reassurance and be a fun bonding tool, but it’s not intended for the average person to diagnose medical issues. If you suspect there’s an issue, you could be wrong—only a healthcare professional can confirm it.
#12 Don’t: Overuse a Fetal Doppler
Once you hear your baby’s heartbeat, you might want to hear it all the time. This can lead to a common question: “Can you overuse a fetal doppler?”
First, we’ll address this question in terms of safety.
Fetal dopplers use similar technology to ultrasound machines. Since the 1950s, diagnostic ultrasound has been used without negative side effects. Also, consider that your at home fetal doppler is a lot less powerful than hospital ultrasound machines. Since the waves emitted are lower, we can assume the risk would be even lower.
There’s another factor to keep in mind though: How often are you using your fetal doppler at home? Ultrasound technology is only used during appointments, which is typically only every few weeks during pregnancy. That’s a lot less frequent than you may be using your fetal doppler at home, so it’s another thing to keep in mind.
It’s a good idea to be mindful of your sessions. While there’s no research to indicate risks, you should not obsessively use any device unless repetitive use is recommended by a doctor.
Another reason you shouldn’t overuse a fetal doppler is that it could create anxiety for some people. Although it commonly provides reassurance to parents and is a positive experience, it may create worry if you use it too much.
If you have anxiety after not checking your baby for a few hours, put it away for a while. Instead, focus on kicks and movement to gauge your baby’s health. When you feel less anxious, you can return to the doppler as a bonding tool and use it less frequently.
#13 Don’t Forget to Record Heartbeat
If you have a medical question about something you hear, you can also record it to share with your doctor or midwife.
#14 Don’t Keep Questions To Yourself
Have a BabyDoppler? We’re here to help! If you have any questions or need guidance using your product, don’t hesitate to reach out. Email or call us at 1-800-590-2767.
Summary: Fetal Dopplers for Home Use Mistakes
To detect your baby easily and clearly, you should use an appropriate amount of gel, practice proper probe technique, wipe off residue and take a break if you feel anxious. Use the tips above to get the best experience possible.