I guess this is kind of controversial. There’s been a lot of negative press recently about home dopplers and how women should not buy them. When I first saw these articles I was worried. We had always wanted to have a doppler and I thought that maybe what research was saying was that they were harmful to babies or some other reason to be concerned…
What I found was not what I expected. Here’s what Count The Kicks (http://www.countthekicks.org.uk) have to say on the matter.
Home dopplers are becoming more and more common but many aren’t aware of the dangers of using them for reassurance. If you are worried about your baby’s movements it is important to be monitored by a CTG or a midwife who can interpret the baby’s heartbeat. Assuming the home doppler is being used properly and is not picking up the mothers heartbeat or the placenta, the presence of a heartbeat does not indicate the baby is well. Any interventions that could save a baby in distress would need to be done when the baby has a heartbeat, leaving it until there is no heartbeat is too late. Please do not let a home doppler delay you from seeking medical attention if you notice a change in your baby’s movements.
So, what it turns out is actually the case, is that some women are using their dopplers instead of medical intervention when they are worried by bleeding, lack of movements or anything else.
I think the last line of this is what everyone considering a doppler should keep in mind. “Please do not let a home doppler delay you from seeking medical attention if you notice a change in your baby’s movements.” I can’t make this any bolder or more clear.
I love my doppler. I do. At the moment, it is helping me where I am only feeling very sporadic movements – I’m only 16 weeks and that’s totally normal. But, I think you have to consider a doppler purchase carefully and whether it’s right for you. If you don’t think a doppler would be right for your family, don’t get one. For some people, they cause more stress than they provide reassurance.
At first (we first tried at ten weeks) finding the heartbeat is HARD. It’s not as easy as you would think. Baby is TINY. Apart from anything, sometimes you find baby for a few seconds and then they swim off and you have to start again. Now that baby is a bit bigger, it’s a bit easier, but sometimes they do tuck themselves into corners and make it very difficult to find them. Consider whether that would freak you out or worry you.
There are LOTS of noises in there. I was shocked by how many! You can hear the placenta as well as your own blood vessels, not to mention the massive artery that hangs around down the left side of your body. We watched a few youtube videos to help us distinguish between the sounds that we might hear and to help us figure out which of these sounds is baby. There was one night where I’m pretty sure Chip was hiding behind the placenta, because we couldn’t find Chip at all – just the placenta. Of course, we found Chip bright and early the next morning. Consider whether this would frustrate or upset you.
I think using a doppler is all about taking it for what it is. Reassurance. For use at home, it’s not a diagnostic tool. You’re not a medical professional. If I ever had any bleeding or reduced movements later – yes I would use the doppler. But I would use it in the car on the way to hospital. There is no way on Earth that I would let the baby having a heartbeat deter me from getting medical assistance that we may need at that moment.
As Count the Kicks quite rightly says –
If you saw a person in the street showing symptoms of a stroke or fainting would you delay phoning an ambulance because they still had a heartbeat?
So, if you’re using a doppler for reassurance and to check in with baby that’s great. That’s what we’re doing and it’s great to hear that galloping sound. It’s helping us bond with our little Chip. But it’s important to use common sense here. If you’re worried, seek medical attention. Call your midwife or labour unit. Don’t sit around and wait to see if the heartbeat stops, because then it’s too late. Better safe than sorry when it comes to little lives.
Here’s Chip’s heartbeat the first time we found it at around ten weeks.