How to use the fetal heart Doppler at home

When I first got a doppler I was so excited! and then SO frustrated! I posted about my frustration and got lots of great tips from other bloggers so I wanted to do a post combining the info because it helped way more than the articles I read.

Sonoline B Fetal Heart Doppler

Sonoline B Fetal Heart Doppler

I rented my first Doppler from BabyBeat.com. I went for the fancy kind that counts the beats for you and wanted a month-to-month contract. At $55 a month, it was pretty expensive and I don’t recommend it. The Doppler was nice and the customer service was great, but you can get the same thing (and it’s your’s to keep) on eBay for around $50 with free shipping. Some even come with gel but after a while you’ll need to order more and that can also be found on eBay or Amazon for really cheap. I got two giant bottles for $15.

*The model I got is shown on the left and works great. It’s the Sonoline B pocket doppler. Very easy to use, around $50 and usually comes with gel.

Because I’m a big worrier (but really, who going through IVF isn’t?) we decided to use it right before our ultrasound appointment. That way if we couldn’t find anything we’d be reassured later that day that nothing was wrong.

Dopple attempt #1 at 10 weeks- we squirt a big pile of goo on my belly over where we figured the baby was- under the bump. Then we stuck the doppler wand on there and started moving it around. Lots of swooshing noises and a slow heartbeat (mine) which actually started to accelerate the longer it took to find anything. Eventually we give up because I was on the verge of freaking out. Ultrasound later proves baby is just fine. For some reason I am too embarrassed to ask Doc about using the Doppler but am determined to go home and figure it out on my own.

I thought maybe my husband staring at me was making me anxious so I chose a quiet time alone to try again. Possibly I was suffering from performance anxiety. I figured I would take my time and use the tips I got from blogging buddies and I would find it. And I did! And then I totally cried with relief. After that I could easily find it every time and often like to start my day by sharing a little heartbeat time.

So here’s my best tips:

1) Find a nice quiet spot. Prop yourself up so you are sitting but reclining. If you think you might get nervous and need time, try it alone first.

2) Roll your pants down a little because you’re going to go low

3) Squirt a good amount of gel onto your lower stomach over your pubic bone. I’m talking down into the hair line. Why on earth there’s a big bump way up and the baby is way down there, I don’t know. I keep meaning to look that up.

4) With the Doppler off, spread the gel around with the wand. (you could also use a finger but then you get all gooey) If you do it while it’s on, it makes a loud awful noise.

5) Turn Doppler on put the wand on your skin really low, right above pubic bone. I usually start at one side and slowly work my way to the other side.

6) Press down hard. Not so hard that you hurt yourself, but pretty firmly.

7) Listen for a heartbeat. Your’s will be slower and show up under 100. The baby heartbeat will be really fast and once you hear it, you’ll know! It will usually get picked up in the lower 100s and start rising as the Doppler counts it. The descriptions I read said it sounds like a herd of horses. I don’t think those people have been around horses. I kept trying to find a galloping noise! It sounds more like “wa wa wa wa” really fast.

* I think the heartbeat sound may change later on, because now when I hear it at 16 weeks it sounds more like “kapow kapow kapow”

8) If you don’t hear anything besides swooshing, tilt the wand down, then side to side. If you tilt it up toward your heart, you will probably pick up your own heartbeat again.

9) After tilting slowly and listening in all directions, move about an inch over, still low and try the same thing again. Do this all the way to the other side.

10) Once you reach the end, move up an inch and try it again going back over. Remember to keep the pressure on!

Sometimes you will hear a very faint heartbeat and sometimes it will be loud and clear. It just depends on the baby’s position. Even at 16 weeks now, sometimes I can only catch a little heartbeat and then he will move and I’ll lose it. Your baby will be moving around so it may be in a different spot every time, but I have found there are some favorite resting spots and that’s where I always start my search. My guy likes to hang out on my left side, way down low.

I highly recommend getting a fetal heart Doppler if you tend to worry at all in between doc appointments. It is incredibly reassuring to hear that little heart beating loud and strong inside your belly!

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10 thoughts on “How to use the fetal heart Doppler at home

  1. Love this!! Very informative. 🙂

    Also something to note: aloe gel works just as well as the ultrasound goo! I got the Walgreens store brand, for sensitive skin, the clear kind, and it works perfectly. I actually hear my baby boy’s heartbeat clearer than my midwife does at my appointments! How about that! 😉 Plus it’s cheaper aaaand moisturizes your skin aaaand can be good for those who have sensitive skin and don’t like that nasty goo they give you. 😛

    • I did hear Aloe Vera works too! Haven’t tried it yet though. I got all obsessive picking out the gel because some made it sound like they were magical super wave conductors that made it easier to hear. Good marketing ploy…lol

      • Haha it is a scam!!! I heard this trick from like 5-6 different ladies on twitter. Trust me, it works. 🙂 I was nervous too but I mean you can’t get any worse than a store brand gel right?! 😉 Give it a try! Buy the smallest/cheapest gel you can find while you still have the other stuff and give it a whirl. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t work and you’re all set to treat a sunburn next summer. 😀

  2. Glad you wrote this. All the women who advise not to get a doppler because you will freak yourself out if you don’t find the heartbeat just don’t know how to use it. If it’s there, you should be able to find it with skill and patience. 🙂

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