At what fetal age can you use a doppler to hear the heartbeat?

Updated June 13, 2017

Many expectant parents wish to use a Doppler to hear their baby's fetal heartbeat. This is especially true if there is a history of pregnancy loss, such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. The fetal heartbeat can be heard on a Doppler starting around the tenth week of pregnancy.

Fetal Heartbeat

The fetal heartbeat begins around the fifth week of pregnancy, but it is not yet able to be audibly detected. However, it can be seen as a flicker on an ultrasound.

Fetal Age

As early as the eighth week of pregnancy, a Doppler can pick up the fetal heartbeat. It is more commonly heard by the twelfth or thirteenth week.


The fetal heartbeat may not be detected early if the mother is tall or overweight. The position of the uterus and the angle of the Doppler are also factors. However, even people with difficulty hearing the heartbeat at eight weeks should still be able to at 12 or 13 weeks.


Dopplers are available for purchase or rent with a doctor's prescription, and one will be used to hear the baby's heartbeat at prenatal visits.

How it Works

The Doppler emits sound waves that bounce off the fetal heart. The sound waves come back to the Doppler's receiver, and the fetal heartbeat is heard.

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About the Author

Rose Welton is a journalism major and a freelance writer. Her education is focused on nutrition and early childhood studies, making her an expert when it comes to writing about health and children's growth and development. She has written numerous articles and blog posts on various topics for online publications and has also worked on an Internet news team.