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Can you hear your baby's heartbeat with a stethoscope?
Well, yes you can actually.
It's not always easy but if you are willing to be patient and keep trying, you can definitely hear your baby's heartbeat with a stethoscope as your pregnancy progresses.
Stethoscopes tend to be cheaper than home doppler devices, though not as sensitive. But you can still have fun trying to locate baby's heartbeat, and listening in on your little one. If they'll let you ; )
When Can you Hear The Heartbeat?
There is general agreement that hearing your baby's heartbeat with a stethoscope will be easier from around 20 weeks of gestation.
Some mothers claim to have heard their baby's heartbeat earlier, but you are more likely to have success sometime after 20 weeks.
There are other factors which will determine how easy it is to hear your baby's heartbeat, such as your weight, baby's position, and the position of your placenta. Conditions such as anterior placenta make it harder to hear the heartbeat as the placenta is in front of the baby, blocking the sound.
How To Hear Your Baby's Heartbeat With A Stethoscope
- Preferably first thing in the morning, before your digestive system has food in it and kicks off it's processing, lie on your back in a quiet spot.
- Take the stethoscope and make sure it is in the correct positions. This means that the ear buds should be turned slightly in towards your face when they are in your ears, and the stem of the stethoscope should be turned so that the hole is open on the concave side of the stethoscope (the bell or chestpiece). You can check if this is the case by tapping the flat side (the diaphragm), and then tapping the bell side, and seeing which sounds loudest. If the bell sounds louder, you will be able to see a small, open hole in the stem facing outwards. If not, turn the stem until you do see it.
- Now put the concave side (the bell) of the stethoscope onto your stomach, approximately where baby is lying. This often tends to be slightly towards the left, and just below the navel but this is the part where you need your patience. You may need to move the stethoscope around your abdomen a lot to find find baby's heartbeat. Even with the more sensitive doppler tool it can take 10 minutes or more to find the heartbeat.
- Listen for a quick beat of between 120 and 160 beats. Anything slower will probably be your heartbeat so to make sure, you can use a stopwatch to count the beats.
Before You Panic
Trying to hear your baby's heartbeat with a stethoscope is not a guaranteed success. There are situations which can make it much more difficult, and should be taken into account when you try.
- As mentioned, your weight, the baby's position and the position of the placenta can prevent the heartbeat from being heard, especially early on.
- If you can't hear baby's heartbeat with a stethoscope at 20 weeks, don't panic, just try again in the weeks following as baby gets bigger. In saying that, if you're not having any luck finding the heartbeat, don't allow yourself to become obsessed and stressed over trying. Just put it down to the fact that some Mothers can hear their baby's heartbeat this way, some can't.
- The audibility of your baby's heartbeat has no bearing on baby's health and there may be times when you can hear it better than others.
If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to contact your Obstetrician or Midwife, but please do not panic. Using a stethoscope one way to hear your baby's heartbeat, but it's not the most efficient as compared to tools such as dopplers.
Victor from Vietnam on August 27, 2014:
Yes. It can be done. A baby'heart beat can be heard since 8 weeks pregnancy. You can see significantly via ultra-sound technich, but, with a good stethoscope you can also hear the heart beat of your baby.