After experiencing a few losses, I was always very nervous about getting pregnant and staying pregnant. I wanted a baby so badly, but even my husband knew that getting pregnant created a lot of stress. He would worry about my day to day life and making sure I wasn’t over-exerting myself. He would ask if I was eating enough or if I was getting enough rest.
Often when we discuss loss, we really only think about what the woman is going through and not realize that it can put just as much stress on our significant other. Every little cramp or odd symptom would put us both on edge. I remember thinking on several occasions: “This is it, I think I just lost the baby.” I remember the look on my husbands face when I would tell him I thought I was losing the baby.
Over the course of a few years, we made several trips to the ER per my OB’s instruction to make sure everything was still okay. I realized that during early pregnancy, going to the ER wouldn’t change the outcome of a threatened miscarriage. So basically, we were just piling on debt on top of our broken hearts.
When we got pregnant with our daughter I decided to rent a fetal doppler. At the time I placed the rental, I didn’t realize that purchasing was an option and assumed it was likely too expensive anyway. By the time I got pregnant with my son I had done my research and decided to purchase the Sonoline C fetal doppler 3MHz.
What Is A Fetal Doppler?
A fetal doppler is a monitoring device used to detect your baby’s heartbeat. So yes, I purchased a handheld ultrasound transducer to listen to my baby’s heartbeat everyday if not multiple times a day. In some cases you will be able to decide which frequency you would like your probe to be.
I purchased the Sonoline B 3MHz fetal doppler because they are better at detecting early pregnancy because it is a higher frequency. However, if you are overweight you may consider a 2MHz since the fetus is deeper inside. If you have any concerns, you can ask your OB which one he or she uses on you.
In some cases, the fetal doppler will come with the ultrasound gel that you need to apply in order to pick up the heartbeat. When I ran out of ultrasound gel I used aloe vera gel and it worked just fine! I think I even used lubricant at one point (haha)!
How To Use A Fetal Doppler
Figuring out how to detect the baby’s heartbeat can be very tricky, especially if you are very early in your pregnancy. I would lay down on a flat surface, squirt the gel close to my underwear line, and point the probe towards the center of my pelvic bone. Applying pressure, slowly move the probe around until you actually find it.
When you are close to finding it you may hear a “swishing” sound like water flowing. Assuming you are at least 8 weeks pregnant, what you are hearing at that point is the blood flowing from the umbilical cord or the placenta. At that point, you want to slowly move the probe around until you hear the “galloping sound” of your baby’s heartbeat. I felt like I could go to sleep just listening to that sound. The good news is that some fetal dopplers and apps have the capability of recording the heartbeat!
When Can You Use A Fetal Doppler?
Depending on the manufacturing, it is recommended that you try detecting your baby’s heartbeat closer to 12 weeks. Who am I kidding, I started trying to find the heartbeat at seven weeks! By eight weeks, I was able to find it. So if you do end up purchasing one, try not to freak out if you can’t find it at first (easier said than done, I know).
The Good & Bad About Using A Fetal Doppler
While having a fetal doppler can be great, it can become frightening and cause some unnecessary stress if you can’t find the heartbeat. During the first trimester it was sometimes challenging trying to locate the heartbeat because it is so small. I am sure this is why it is recommended to wait until 12 weeks. Later on, the baby moves around and that can make it hard to find as well.
For me, it was a peace of mind just knowing that the baby was still alive and moving around in there. During early pregnancy when you can’t feel your baby move, having the ability to hear it is definitely reassuring. I tend to spot and even bleed during early pregnancy. So having a fetal doppler at home help me keep my sanity and it also saved a lot of calls to my OB’s office!
Another great thing about having the doppler is that your partner, family, or friends get to hear it too. My husband would come home from work and ask if I had heard the baby yet for the day. Of course I did, but I knew he wanted to hear it too! It was a great bonding experience for the both of us. I think it gave him peace of mind as well knowing that everything was still okay. We just took it one day at a time and always prayed for the best!
My Opinion On Fetal Dopplers
I am sure you are aware that I am all for purchasing a fetal doppler so I don’t have to keep saying it. I am an optimistic person, but I know from experience that a loss can happen no matter which stage of pregnancy you are in. Personally, I felt that it would be easier knowing at home versus going in to find out the inevitable, but that is just me.
I also know that when someone has experienced a loss, no matter how successful the pregnancy is progressing, that thought is always in the back of your mind. This is why I had to have a fetal doppler. Each day I knew that I was still pregnant was another day that I didn’t have to be worried. If I didn’t find the heartbeat right away, I waited until later to try again. Just hearing it gave me the reassurance I needed to make it through.
My hope for you is to do whatever it is that will give you that extra peace of mind to help you along the way through your pregnancy. Whether it is getting a fetal doppler, journaling, saying a simple prayer, try to keep your spirits up. Remember that today you are pregnant and you will take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Good luck and baby dust to you!