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Where to find the fetal heartbeat

A fetal doppler is used to find the fetal heartbeat during early pregnancy. Read below for more details on how they are used...
Find the fetal heartbeat
Find Fetal Heartbeat
Whilst it is possible to find the baby's heartbeat from just 6 weeks using a fetal doppler, I recommend holding off from using one until at least 12 weeks of pregnancy...after all dopplers are intended to help reduce anxiety.

You must remember that at 12 weeks of pregnancy a fetus may only be 5cm (2 inches) in length, let alone the size of their tiny heart and so with this considered it may take a bit of practice to be able to clearly hear the fetal heartbeat.

Here's a few tips to get you started:

1. Make sure the fetal doppler has been fully charged - for at least 16 hours before first use.

2. A full bladder often helps as it pushes everything forward - so drink plenty of fluids in the time leading up to using your doppler

3. Put a good tablespoon size of doppler gel on your lower stomach - this helps to produce a much clearer signal as ultrasound waves travel much easier through gel than than through air.

4. Place the doppler probe low down on the abdomen at about the level of the public hair line - the fetus is a lot lower than initially thought during the early stages of pregnancy

5. Move the doppler probe slowly, pausing regularly to listen to the change in sounds

6. Changing position might be a good idea - moving your body around may provide a better position for the doppler to detect the heartbeat

7. If you cannot hear the heartbeat after a while of trying, Don't panic - there's plenty of room in there for the baby to be playing hide and seek with the doppler. Take a break and try again later or the next day.

It can take a while to get used to all the subtle sounds in the abdomen and how to position yourself and the doppler probe to detect these sounds. Some mums find the fetal heartbeat straight away, whilst other take a bit longer and have many attempts before doing so.  If you have genuine conerns then let your midwife know and they can best advise - they may even offer a hand in instructing you how to get the most out of your doppler.

Whatever you do, relax and enjoy this special time!