RD Pregnancy heartbeat Doppler – is it safe to use at home?

Expert advice on using a fetal monitor to listen to your baby's heartbeat

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In a nutshell

Yes – but use with caution

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The expert view

It can be tempting – and fun – to use one of the home Dopplers to listen to your baby, but they shouldn’t be used as reassurance if you’re worried about your baby’s movements.

“While it is safe for the baby and for you to use a home Doppler machine they can cause huge amounts of stress and anxiety if, for whatever reason, you cannot find a heartbeat,” explains MFM’s GP Dr Philippa Kaye. “If you are feeling worried about your baby and feel the need to have a Doppler at home speak to your antenatal team about your anxieties.”

Although they are available to buy for home use, a foetal Doppler used by a GP or midwife during an antenatal appointment requires considerable training to use properly, according to the Royal College of Midwives.

It advises mums-to-be not to use them, as they can not only cause stress and raise blood pressure if it’s hard to find a heartbeat, but may also falsely reassure pregnant women that things are fine, even if they’re not.

This is because sometimes the Doppler can actually be picking up the mum’s heartbeat, or even the pulse of blood flow through the placenta.

Mums on our forum say

“The heart beat monitor was the best thing I bought. I can check on the baby anytime I like, just to put my mind at rest. You can hear the heat from 12 weeks so that’s when I got mine. Every time we go to find the heart beat, it hides for a few seconds and then there’s life. It’s amazing.” Mel1223

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“I bought [a Doppler] for reassurance but ended up causing me aw/forum/pregnancy/hi-im-newful stress as I couldn’t find the heart beat until I was about 30 weeks! My placenta was anterior which was the likely cause but the stress of people saying they found a hb at 9 weeks and then me not finding anything was horrible! I won’t be getting it out this time until I’m huge.” Mafia Princess

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