Early Fetal Heartbeat

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Early fetal heartbeat can be heard on a home Doppler ultrasound monitor ten to twelve weeks after the mother's last menstrual period. Even as early as six to eight weeks into the pregnancy, powerful ultrasound monitors used in the obstetric clinic can usually locate a fetal heartbeat. However, parents shouldn't expect to detect a heartbeat using their home Dopplers at this early a stage.

This fact should be made clear, for parents can subject themselves to a lot of unnecessary stress by expecting to find a heartbeat in this earliest stage. This is the downside of otherwise wonderful home Doppler technology: armed with the ability to gain information, the lack of it can cause undue anxiety. Still, home Dopplers can perform an immeasurable service to expectant parents. The key is for parents to inform themselves of the facts before they use these machines.

Hearing Early Fetal Heartbeat

Hearing early fetal heartbeat is a simple process. First, the mother's abdomen must be coated with a special lotion to facilitate the passage of ultrasound waves. Millions of these harmless waves are then passed through a probe--which the mother can hold herself, gliding it along the abdominal surface--and into the womb. Once in the womb, the waves will keep traveling until they contact with the many surfaces of the fetus.

Some of these waves will contact with the baby's beating heart. As the heart moves, it will distort the patterns of the waves that hit it. All ultrasound waves are then reflected back into the probe, where they enter the Doppler machine, which then interprets their patterns. The machine's interpretation of these patterns is translated into sounds, which the parents can then hear through the monitor's speakers as early fetal heartbeat.

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