How to hear a baby's heartbeat while pregnant

Written by nicole crawford
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One of the most exciting moments of pregnancy is hearing baby's heartbeat for the first time. The baby's heart can be heard as early as ten weeks into pregnancy, and doctors are able to better monitor her health by keeping track of heart rate. Listening to a baby's heartbeat also provides a unique bonding experience for many parents, and adds to the anticipation and excitement that go along with pregnancy.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Stethoscope or Fetoscope

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    Listening With a Stethoscope

  1. 1

    Go to a quiet and private place.

  2. 2

    Lift up shirt to expose the pregnant belly. You may want to lie down for comfort. You will probably also need to pull your trousers or underwear down below the pelvic bone.

  3. 3

    Place the stethoscope's ear plugs into your ears (or have your partner put them in his ears).

  4. 4

    Press gently on your belly, and try to find the hardest spot. This is likely to be your baby's back, and the heartbeat is most easily heard in this position. If you can't seem to locate the back, then start in the middle of the abdomen and work your way around.

  5. 5

    Press the bell-shaped side of the stethoscope against your belly, either against the baby's back if you can find it, or in the middle of the abdomen if you cannot.

  6. 6

    Listen for a rapid, steady thumping noise. This is baby's heartbeat!

Tips and warnings

  • Don't confuse baby's heartbeat with your own. It may help to start by listening to your own heartbeat, then looking for baby's, so that you won't confuse the two. The average adult woman has a heartbeat that measures under one hundred beats per minute, whereas the fetal heartbeat is usually 120 to 160 beats per minute, so your baby's heartbeat will sound much faster than your own.
  • Fetal doppler machines are now available for home use (although they run around five hundred dollars). If you are having trouble finding baby's heartbeat with a stethoscope or fetoscope, you might consider investing in one. Use a doppler when the bladder is full, and be sure to apply a lot of ultrasound fluid.
  • After twenty weeks of pregnancy, some fetal heartbeats can be heard without any amplification at all. Of course, mom might have a hard time bending over to listen to her own belly, but dad can give it a try every so often.
  • It is often difficult to hear baby's heartbeat. If you are unsuccessful, don't worry. Amplification can be affected by baby's position, placement of the placenta, and amount of fat in the abdomen. Additionally, if you are less than thirteen weeks along, the baby's heartbeat may still be too weak to hear.

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