Early Warning: role of heartbeat doppler in detecting 5 critical issues

heartbeat doppler

When you haven’t used a heartbeat doppler before, you may wonder whether it can detect serious pregnancy issues or complications. Parents-to-be turn to fetal doppler for reassurance, bonding with their unborn baby, and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. However, can this non-invasive device detect potential problems or complications during pregnancy or be used for medical purposes at home? In this article, we will outline when fetal heartbeat doppler can detect abnormalities, explore its limitations, and the importance of seeking professional medical advice.

What is fetal doppler?

A fetal heartbeat doppler is a handheld device that expecting parents can use at home. This device uses technology similar to an ultrasound so that parents can hear their baby’s heartbeat through a speaker or headphones. It is advisable to start using baby doppler not earlier than week 12 of pregnancy (during the second trimester), as at this stage, the baby’s heartbeats are more robust and easier to detect. To learn more, read our article on “When to start using fetal doppler monitor.”

fetal doppler to relive stress in pregancy

Purpose of heartbeat doppler

Medical professionals use fetal dopplers to help assess a baby’s health. However, at-home fetal doppler is a valuable tool for bonding with the baby and reassuring that the baby is developing. But still, it doesn’t replace doctor’s visits or interventions. Expecting mothers like using heartbeat doppler at home because it may:

Provide reassurance

Many pregnant women, especially those who experienced miscarriage or any other complications, worry about the well-being of their unborn children. Also, first-time mothers may amplify this concern too. Fetal heartbeat doppler may help them check the baby’s heartbeat between prenatal check-ups to ensure the baby is okay.

Create Bonding

The sound of a tiny heart is a moment of joy for expecting parents and all your relatives and friends. It’s an excellent opportunity for a father to bond with a child before the birth. Also, doppler fetal monitor can be used as a way to introduce a child to their new sibling.


Some expecting parents believe that heartbeat doppler is somewhat complex, but this is a mistaken opinion. To ensure that fetal doppler is a user-friendly device, read our comprehensive guide, which shows how to use doppler properly. The only thing that requires practice is detecting the actual heartbeat, not another sound. Listen to the video below, where Dr. Carolina Melgar explains how to recognize the sound.

Can heartbeat doppler detect complications?

While at-home doppler can detect some kinds of abnormalities, mothers-to-be should constantly consult with healthcare providers. You can use fetal doppler between prenatal check-ups to monitor baby’s heartbeat. By using fetal doppler you can detect such abnormalities:

  • Abnormalities in digital heart rate curve;
  • abnormalities in conjunction with other symptoms or test results;
  • slower heart rate than usual;
  • missed heartbeat;
  • monitor fetal heart rate (normal fetal heart rate typically ranges from 120 to 160 bpm).

What to do when a heartbeat doppler detects abnormalities?

Once you notice some abnormalities or cannot find heartbeats, contact your midwife or health care provider. Fetal dopplers are not intended for diagnostic purposes. They are designed for home use and provide no medical diagnosis or professional medical advice. Any unusual sounds or concerns should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Heartbeat doppler cannot identify irregularities or complications that a healthcare provider can identify. These devices cannot detect other vital signs of a healthy pregnancy, such as amniotic fluid levels, fetal movement, or position.

Why can’t I hear my baby’s heartbeat with a fetal doppler?

Do not panic when you cannot find baby’s heartbeat with a heartbeat doppler. You have never been trained to interpret fetal heartbeats. Contact your healthcare provider and inform about the problem. There should be several reasons for it:

You are not skilled enough in detecting

The first-time users may find it hard to differentiate a baby’s heartbeat from yours. Some women describe the sound as similar to galloping horses. Please watch the video where Dr. Carolina Melgar explains how to detect the fetal heartbeat and differentiate it from the mother’s and other noises like the placenta. It takes practice to learn how to find your baby’s heartbeat properly. Some women describe the sound as similar to galloping horses. See other tips on how to use fetal doppler

fetal doppler to relive stress in pregancy
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It’s too early

Many fetal dopplers work best in the second trimester (13-16 weeks) when your baby’s heartbeat is strong enough to register. However, some women can detect it earlier or later. The bigger the baby gets, the easier it is to hear its heartbeat.

Spine-forward fetal lying position

Even if you’ve heard your baby’s heartbeat before, it’s possible she’s moved into a position that makes it more difficult to access and detect. If this is the case, you’ll need to try again after the baby has moved.

Several common physical factors can make it harder for the at home fetal doppler to detect a baby’s heartbeat, including:

  • A tilted uterus
  • Surrounding placenta tissue
  • Surrounding abdominal fat tissue

Word from Sonohealth

Heartbeat doppler is an excellent tool for bonding and sharing precious moments with your unborn child. While it can detect a baby’s heartbeat, it should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care. The mother and baby’s safety and well-being depend on regular prenatal check-ups and consultations with a healthcare provider. If you have any concerns during your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to reach out to your medical team, who can provide the necessary guidance and support. A healthy pregnancy involves comprehensive medical monitoring, and it’s essential to rely on healthcare professionals for accurate assessments and peace of mind.


1. Is it safe to use a fetal Doppler at home?

Using a heartbeat doppler several times per week won’t harm the mother’s and baby’s well-being. Sessions should not be longer than 10-15 minutes.

2. At what week of pregnancy is the Doppler test done?

Today, mothers-to-be get an ultrasound before 12 weeks. However, the fetal doppler test usually takes place during your second trimester (weeks 13 to 28 of pregnancy).

3. What does a fetal heartbeat sound like on a doppler?

While the placenta sounds like the wind, the fetal heartbeat is comparable to the sound of galloping horses.

4. Where can I buy a fetal doppler?

When you’re looking to buy fetal doppler, you can trust us here at SonoHealth. Our fetal doppler goes beyond simplicity, offering a lightweight, pocket-sized design that brings joy to your entire family, no matter where they are.

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