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Imagine listening to your baby’s heartbeat at home before she’s even born. Fetal dopplers allow you to do just that! The device is affordable and easy to use.

But there’s a catch—you need to discern the correct noise. If you use a fetal doppler incorrectly, you might mistake your body’s noises for your baby’s heartbeat.

Luckily, with some education and a bit of practice, you’ll learn what a fetal heartbeat sounds like.

In this guide, we’re sharing 8 tips on how to tell if you’re detecting your baby’s heartbeat or not.

What Is a Fetal Doppler?

If you’ve never used the device before, you might wonder, “what is a fetal doppler?”

A pocket fetal doppler, or fetal heartbeat monitor, allows you to detect your baby’s heartbeat while she’s in the womb. The heartbeat is then amplified through the device’s speakers and the fetal heart rate (FHR) is displayed on screen.

Doctors use fetal dopplers during appointments to assess the baby’s heartbeat and check their development. Today, pocket fetal dopplers are affordable and available for home use.

Many parents find that using a fetal doppler gives them reassurance. Alongside other signs, like counting kicks, hearing a heartbeat could be another checkmark that your baby is healthy. (Note: Never delay medical care. Fetal dopplers are not a replacement for doctor check-ups or medical advice).

The device also provides a unique bonding experience between baby and mother and the whole family. Using the BabyDoppler app, you can record your baby’s heartbeat as a keepsake or to share with friends.

How to Use an At Home Fetal Doppler

At home fetal dopplers are easy to use.

Here’s a quick step-by-step:

  1. Lay down or sit back, reclined
  2. Apply a generous blob of ultrasound gel to your lower belly
  3. Turn the fetal doppler on
  4. Place the probe in the gel
  5. Use a rocking motion to slowly move the probe, gliding the ultrasound gel with it
  6. Start from the bottom and move upwards, covering every area until you find the heartbeat
  7. When you find the heartbeat, the heart rate will display on screen
  8. Read the full fetal doppler Sonoline B instructions

You can find your baby’s heartbeat on an at home fetal doppler around 12 weeks of pregnancy. Some people hear a heartbeat before that, around 9 weeks. Other people need to wait until the 13th or 14th week.

Keeping that in mind, if you don’t hear a heartbeat at week 12, don’t panic! It could be that your baby is too small and you need to wait longer for her to grow. Even if your doctor has detected a heartbeat using their fetal doppler, you may not detect it at home. Also, you might not be able to detect your baby every time. For example, she might switch positions where it’s harder to detect.

Heartbeat or Not? 8 Tips to Discern Fetal Doppler Noises

A fetal doppler will amplify any noise it finds. That includes:

  • Fetal heartbeat
  • Your own heartbeat
  • Arterial sounds
  • The noise of placenta
  • Fetal blood flow
  • Baby movement

Given all these different noises, you need to be able to tell which sound is actually the heartbeat. These tips will help you detect your baby’s real heartbeat.

#1 Compare Heart Rate Ranges

Sometimes a mother hears a heartbeat and assumes it’s her baby’s when it’s actually her own. So how can you tell?

Comparing normal heart rate ranges for fetuses and adults can help you determine which noise you’re picking up. Keep the ranges below in mind.

  • Normal Adult Heart Rate: 60-80 bpm
  • Normal Fetus Heart Rate: 120-180 bpm

If the heartbeat you detect is in the range of a normal adult heartbeat, you’re probably picking up your own heart. If it falls in the normal fetus range, the fetal doppler is likely picking up your baby.

Fetus heartbeats can vary widely. That’s because the heartbeat changes as they develop. For example, if you’re able to detect your baby at 9 weeks, you may notice a higher reading, about 170 bpm. By week 14, it’s likely dropped to around 150 bpm.

To learn more, read:

#2 Listen for “Whooshing” Placenta Noise

It’s common to mistake the sound of your placenta for your baby’s heartbeat.

To know if it’s placenta making the noise, listen to it carefully. Women often describe the sound of placenta on a fetal doppler as:

  • Whooshing noise
  • Sounds like wind blowing through trees
  • “Wowowowow” sound

#3 Listen for “Galloping” Heartbeat

While placenta can sound like wind, your baby’s heartbeat has another distinct noise.

Some people compare the sound of a fetal heartbeat through a fetal doppler to:

  • The sound of galloping horses
  • Similar to the noise of jumping rope very rapidly

#4 Compare With Noises From Videos

One of the best ways to discern noises from a pocket fetal doppler is to watch other people use them. Spend time getting used to what a fetal heartbeat sounds like. Learn how other body noises sound different.

You can start by watching the videos on BabyDoppler’s YouTube channel.

To hear what a fetal heartbeat might sound like at a specific week of pregnancy, search “fetal doppler X week” on YouTube (be sure you’re using a reliable source who’s detecting the correct noise!).


#5 Listen for Echoing

If you’re pregnant with a single baby and think you hear two heartbeats, you’re likely hearing echoes. Some people hear two noises and think they’re pregnant with twins. Unless your doctor has confirmed multiple pregnancies, it’s likely you’re hearing the echo of your single baby.

#6 Watch Your Doctor Use Their Fetal Doppler

During your next prenatal checkup, watch how your doctor uses their fetal doppler. Although they’ll have a different medical device, the basics will be similar. Watch how they rock the probe and cover your belly until they find the heartbeat. Then pay close attention to what a fetal heartbeat sounds like. If you have questions, ask. You might also simply ask, “Can you walk me through the steps of using the fetal doppler and everything you’re detecting?”

If your doctor or midwife is willing, you can also ask them to help you use your own doppler. This can be helpful if you’re feeling confused or unsure.

#7 Practice & Accept You’re Not a Pro

One of the best tips for discerning your baby’s heartbeat is to practice. Over time, you’ll become more familiar with the noise and will be able to differentiate between the heartbeat and body noises.

With that being said, no matter how much practice you have, you’re not a professional. While you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat between appointments, it will never replace checkups. Resist the urge to self-diagnose and instead talk to your doctor or emergency care about any concerns.

#8 Other Important Fetal Doppler Heartbeat Tips

To help you detect your baby’s heartbeat on a fetal doppler, try these suggestions:

  • Use fetal doppler on a full bladder (helps push your uterus out of the pelvic cavity)
  • Consider using a 2MHz probe if Overweight (get a 2MHz probe here)
  • Cheap fetal dopplers produce more feedback and make it difficult to listen (use a reliable brand!)
  • Be generous with ultrasound gel to avoid too much feedback
  • Clean probe after every use to avoid build-up that can produce feedback
  • If you can’t pick up a heartbeat, try again in the next few days

Where Can I Buy a Fetal Doppler?

Before purchasing a fetal doppler, make sure you buy from a reliable retailer. Devices that are cheaply made can produce too much feedback to use reliably.

Fetal Doppler Sonoline B devices are an industry-trusted brand and come with unlimited warranty. With an affordable price and raving reviews, BabyDoppler is the top choice for pocket fetal dopplers.

Order Your Fetal Doppler Today and Get a FREE Sample of Ultrasound Gel!

Learn More About Fetal Dopplers

Get more insider tips and tricks by reading our fetal doppler guides:

Summary: Discern Heartbeat with Fetal Doppler Sonoline B

The most important part of using a fetal doppler is discerning which noise is the heartbeat. Since the device can pick up all other noises, it can be difficult to tell at first. Luckily, with a little bit of practice, you can learn what your baby’s heartbeat sounds like. Use the tips on this list to educate yourself each time you practice. Remember that fetal dopplers don’t replace checkups or medical advice. Talk to your doctor or emergency care if you have any concerns.

Listen to Your Baby’s Heartbeat from Home. Get an Affordable Fetal Doppler Today!

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