Fetal Heart Rate Monitors at Home

When you're pregnant, there is nothing you want more than to know what's going on with the little person growing inside of you. If you have experienced complications or miscarriages in previous pregnancies, you may be even more anxious to know that your baby is healthy and happy inside of you. Having to wait between prenatal appointments to hear your child's heartbeat can make you uneasy. Thankfully, it is now possible to check on your baby with your own fetal heart monitor right at home.

How Fetal Monitors Work
At your prenatal appointments, you have likely been thrilled to hear your baby's heart beating. In order for you to hear your child's heartbeat, your health care provider uses a device known as a fetal heart rate monitor or doppler. This device uses a probe to detect high frequency sound waves that are produced by your baby's heart.

Because these sound waves aren't easily heard under normal conditions, a gel, oil or water solution is spread onto your belly. The probe is then moved around this area until your child's heartbeat is detected. Once the sound waves are found, they are then sent from the probe to the doppler fetal heartbeat monitor, which amplifies the sound for you to hear.

Fetal Heart Monitors at Home
Starting as early as eight weeks, it is possible to hear your baby's heartbeat. Although your child's heart rate is checked at every prenatal appointment, if you have experienced numerous miscarriages or serious pregnancy complications in previous pregnancies, you may be a bit apprehensive about having to wait so long to know that your baby is healthy. This is why many companies have begun to offer fetal heart rate monitors for home use.

Using a fetal monitor at home can provide parents with comfort and reassurance that their pregnancy is progressing as it should. A fetal monitor can also offer peace of mind to those couples who are currently experiencing complications in their pregnancy as the device can help to alert you when there is a serious problem with your baby. Couples that must often go to the emergency room due to problems in the pregnancy may find that a home fetal baby heart monitor helps to reduce the number of trips they make.

Fetal doppler monitors are handheld devices that are generally easy to use. At home models usually run on batteries. If you are using one of these devices, you can start trying to detect your baby's heartbeat as early as eight weeks although most parents won't be able to find the heartbeat until the 10th to 12th week of pregnancy. Additionally, many at home models allow you to record the sound of your child's heartbeat, which you can easily download onto your computer as a special keepsake of your pregnancy.

Because these devices are meant to be used at home, using and reading a fetal monitor is fairly simple. To find your child's heartbeat, place the special gel or lotion on your belly just above the pubic bone and then slowly move the probe around, tilting it at different angles. Digital fetal monitors will automatically display the number of heartbeats per minute on their screen. If your fetal monitor is not digital, then count the number of heartbeats you hear over the course of ten seconds and multiply this by six to get the beats per minute.

Buy or Rent?
If you are interested in getting a fetal monitor to use at home, you have the option of either renting or buying one. There are numerous companies that do one or the other or both. While purchasing a doppler can cost as much as $450, it saves you from having to rent a fetal monitor in future pregnancies. On the other hand, renting a fetal heart monitor can be surprisingly affordable, with prices ranging from US$24 to US$49 per month. If you only want a home monitor temporarily, this may be the more reasonable option.

Whether you buy or rent, one of the main things you should look for in your fetal monitor is FDA approval. When you purchase or rent a monitor with FDA approval, you can be assured that your fetal heart monitor is safe to use throughout your pregnancy.

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