How to Find Your Baby's Heartbeat With a Fetal Doppler

Why Choose a Fetal Doppler?

It is hard not to worry about the health of your baby when you are pregnant, especially before you start feeling those first reassuring movements. I found comfort when I bought a fetal doppler that I could use in the comfort of my own home whenever I needed reassurance that my baby was okay. They are more affordable than ever before and are easy to use with a little practice. With a fetal doppler, you will be able to hear the heartbeat of your unborn baby, as well as hear precious baby movements.

How to Find Your Baby’s Heartbeat With a Fetal Doppler

  1. Make sure that you are far enough along to use the doppler. 12 weeks is the standard time that you will be able to successfully find your baby’s heartbeat. If you try earlier than this, you might not hear the heartbeat even though your baby is fine. That will cause you to worry unnecessarily. However, I have found my baby’s heartbeats as early as 9 weeks.
  2. Make sure your bladder is full. This is not necessary, but it will make it a bit easier to hear the heartbeat. It helps to bring the uterus out of the pelvic cavity.
  3. Choose a good lubricant. Personal lubricant is a good choice, as well as coconut oil. There is also special gel that is specifically for fetal dopplers. It is a bit pricy, but you can choose to buy it if you wish.
  4. Spread the lubricant on the lower portion of your tummy, right above your pubic bone. Depending on how far along you are, you may need to go a bit higher. A good rule of thumb is to start with the area right above your pubic bone first. If you are more than 20 weeks pregnant, try starting around your belly button. Don’t use too much lubricant, but make sure your tummy is lightly covered.
  5. Turn the doppler on and place the probe on the middle of your tummy directly above your pubic bone (right above the hair line).
  6. Slowly move the probe with very gentle pressure. Move the probe to the right and to the left. One of my baby’s always was on my right side. My last baby was always right in the middle. You will have to explore. This will take patience.
  7. Listen for the baby’s heartbeat. It is a very distinct sound that sounds similar to a galloping horse. It will be much faster than your own heartbeat. Your baby’s heartbeat will most likely be between 120-180 BPM (beats per minute). Listening for the heartbeat can be a little tricky because when you are searching for it, you may also hear your own heartbeat and swooshing.
  8. Don’t try to find the baby’s heartbeat for longer than 10 minutes once a day. Extended use of the fetal doppler is not recommended.

Special Notes

  • The size of the mother may make it easier or harder to find the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler. A mom who has a bit more padding on her stomach may have a slightly harder time finding the heartbeat.
  • If you cannot find your baby’s heartbeat, don’t get discouraged. That does not necessarily mean that something is wrong.  Try again another day. Always trust your instincts though, and see your healthcare provider if you think you need medical attention.
  • If your uterus is tilted it may be harder for you to find the heartbeat. Your doctor will be able to tell you if your uterus is tilted.