Are Fetal Dopplers Safe to Use?
As an expectant mom, you might be wondering how your baby’s doing and if possible, know exactly what’s keeping him or her busy inside your womb. There may be times when you want to check it yourself rather than wait until the next OB-GYN visit. Luckily, technology can now put those endless guessing and worrying to rest. Meet the Fetal Doppler for home use. What is it? Is it safe to use?
What is a Fetal Doppler?
A Fetal Doppler is non-invasive, hand-held ultrasound equipment that measures the baby’s heartbeat or fetal heart rate (FHR) for prenatal care. There are two types of hand-held baby dopplers – the regular and digital. The regular baby doppler gives the audio of the fetal heartbeat while the digital provides a digital display of the fetal heart rate. The Fetal Doppler provides a comfortable and convenient way to monitor the baby’s heart rate. It is also a fun way for the parents and family to connect with the baby.
How Does a Fetal Doppler Work?
The Fetal Doppler uses the Doppler Effect principle, discovered by Christian Doppler in 1842, to listen to the baby’s heartbeat while inside the mother’s womb. Simply put, a Doppler Effect is the change in frequency of sound waves when they are reflected from a moving object.
A Fetal Doppler uses a transducer to emit short pulses of ultrasound waves into an area of the body. The resulting frequency changes when the baby’s heart reflects the sound waves are then converted into signals. These signals represent the fetal heartbeat.
Though it is possible to use it while sitting or standing, the best position to start with is by lying on your back with your abdomen exposed.
1. Lie on a flat surface exposing your abdomen.
2. Apply a generous amount of ultrasound gel to your lower abdomen and on the Fetal Doppler probe.
3. Turn the device on and start from your pubic bone.
4. Glide the probe towards your belly button.
5. Gently move the probe around until you find the fetus.
The fetal heart rate can be detected usually from 8-12 weeks. The average, normal fetal heart rate is 120 – 180 BPM. As a rule, the probe should not last longer than ten minutes. Try another time if you are unable to find your baby on your first try.
How safe is a Fetal Doppler?
The ultrasound machines used by doctors also uses the Doppler Effect principle. The main difference is that ultrasound machines emit much higher and stronger ultrasound waves as compared to the Fetal Doppler.
The ultrasound machine has between 2, 5 to 10 MHZ variations and output levels of up to 740 watts, while the Fetal Doppler only has a 2 and 3 MHZ probes and very low output levels of 20 watts. This makes the Fetal Doppler safe and easy to use at home.
Be sure to read the manual for operating and proper care instructions. Whatever the results of your monitoring would be, be careful not to feel overly secured or panicky. The best person to interpret the results and give you proper advice is still your healthcare provider.
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