At my hospital appointment at 22 weeks, new exciting additions was made to the standard suite of blood pressure and urine sampling: belly prodding (checking for the position of my uterus and more recently for the baby’s position in there), belly measuring and heartbeat monitoring (the baby’s, not mine).
The sound of a second heartbeat coming from within you is quite surreal. It is obviously not yours as it’s much faster, foetal heart rates in mid pregnancy are generally between 120-180 beats per minute, slowing to 110-160 beats per minute by the time you are in labour.
The instrument the doctors and midwives tend to use is a doppler foetal monitor which uses ultrasound to bounce waves off the baby and uses that to simulate its heartbeat.
You can now buy or rent dopplers for use at home from about 9 weeks, and so personal use of dopplers is on the increase. This isn’t advised by the medical community because most of us aren’t trained medical practitioners and can use it incorrectly, resulting in panic if we can’t find a heartbeat or more seriously missing an issue with the baby’s heartbeat because we mistake our own for it. Despite that, having a listen in on little Bobby or Betsy’s beating heart is quite fun – you just need to make sure you don’t use it as a replacement for actual medical care!
This video gives you a demo on using a doppler and you get to hear a heartbeat – double the fun.
The trouble with dopplers is the good ones are expensive – which is why there is a rental market for them. Dopplers range in price from £20 at the low end, to £50-100 midrange and £300-600 for the minted.
For the bargain hunting smartphone using amongst us, a cheap alternative to a doppler is an app. Apps like BabyScope use the phone’s microphone to amplify the sounds from within so you can hear it via your headphones. So you whack the bottom of your phone (in airplane mode of course!) on your belly and rootle around till you find that fluttering beat. And all for £2.99!
I downloaded it a few days ago and it was quite fun hearing the alien’s rapidly beating heart. It’s a bit of fun for me and hopefully for Fred (if he can stay in the country long enough to hear it), but if I’m worried about it then I’m going to ring a midwife, not whip out my phone!