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

Written by rose welton
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At what fetal age can you use a doppler to hear the heartbeat?
Hearing the fetal heartbeat is an exciting time for parents. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jessica Merz)

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.

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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.

Factors

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.

Uses

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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