Fetal Doppler Experience

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I just wanted to share our experience with a doppler.

We knew we were going to get a doppler even before I was pregnant. We loved the idea of being able to listen to our baby’s heartbeat at home.

 After I ordered it on ebay for $54 at 8 weeks pregnant, it was brought to my attention that a doppler is basically the same thing as an ultrasound and I started looking into any possible harm that an ultrasound can do. I found quite a few studies that show minimal but statistically apparent damage ( heats up tissue, scrambles brain cells, connected with miscarriage, though the latter was never shown in repeated studies).  In order for the “damage to occur they had to have full strength ultrasound in one place for 30 minutes” ( in mice).
Either way, it was more prudent to do as few full on ultrasounds as possible, and use the doppler once and then only in “emergency” situations.

After finding out about these studies, we did decide to do just the NT scan at 12 weeks and the anatomy/gender scan at 20 weeks, rather than doing a special gender ultrasound at 16-18 weeks, as well.

However, I have to admit, the doppler turned out to be  the best damn thing invented by modern technology for us.

When we got it, I was only 8.5 weeks along and we were very well aware that the earliest the heartbeat can be heard on the ultrasound is 10 weeks, but usually not till 14 weeks. So we had no expectations.

The day we got it, we were gonna listen to it once and put it away. I found the swooshing placenta sound at about 125bpm right away, as well as my own heartbeat and my arteries, and kept searching square inch by inch to make sure I cover it all, but not go over the same place too many times. That way if I don’t find it ( which was my expectation), I would know I didn’t simply miss it, but it’s truly too early. It took me about 15 minutes to find the heartbeat, and we couldn’t believe we did. It was very distinct – nothing can be mistaken for a baby’s heartbeat once you’ve heard it ( we heard the heartbeat at my early 6 week ultrasound before I knew about the possible dangers).  It sounded like a train and it was at 167bpm, good and strong. It was absolutely amazing and shocking to find it that early. Even my OB was surprised and sort of sceptical at first, until I showed him where we found it and described what it sounded like, which was identical to where he found it at my 10 week exam.  After about a total of 10seconds of  listening to it, we put the doppler away without any intention of trying again unless we had to.

After about a week, my nausea went completely away for one day and of course it instantly worried us ( lol). We decided to quickly listen to the heartbeat to see if it’s still there. Of course, we wanted to hear it, good reason or not, but this way we had an excuse: we were making sure everything is ok 🙂 lol
So once we found it again ( in the same place, but this time it kept moving around), we put the doppler away, happy to be reassured.

So it ended up being that once every 1.5 weeks, we’d “find” the need to hear our baby’s heartbeat. It’s always there and always strong (stronger and easier to find each week), and is just the best thing to keep our mind at ease. So while in the beginning I was very wary of it and cautious, I have to say that the peace of mind for us personally is completely worth the tiny, if any, risk of it. As the baby grows and I start feeling kicks, it won’t be as necessary, but right now doppler is the best thing in the world.

The last time we used it was right after my first  full OB appointment. I had read that many women miscarried after paps during pregnancy and while I decided that it’s most likely a coincidence, I was still very freaked out by the possibility. I know in UK, paps aren’t even done in pregnant women. I do think it’s important to do a pap during pregnancy, because it can uncover potentially harmful things like yeast infections, BV and other infection, so I went for it. We wanted to make sure the baby was  fine right before we went to the appointment, and then a day or so after. Everything was fine both times. The latest heartbeat was about 160-165 bpm, slightly  lower than a few weeks ago, which is normal because the heartbeat slows down as the baby grows. 

I didn’t expect the amount of joy the reassurance of a doppler would bring us. We haven’t listened to it in a few weeks, because we just had our 12 week NT scan, and I am temped, but I am trying to be strong and not use it without a reason.

I realize  that it might be more of a worry for some women, especially if it’s harder to find a heartbeat , unlike it was in our case. So I can’t say I recommend buying one for everybody. But if you think you can handle if you don’t hear it right away, or don’t hear it for a few days at some point in the pregnancy, then it’s truly amazing. I would only suggest that you do some research on risks of ultrasounds and dopplers, just to make sure you know all the facts, and make an informed decision about using a doppler.

{If you’re interested, this is the doppler we got: Sonoline with a 3MHZ probe. Make sure to get the 3 Mhz probe, as it is more sensitive and will detect a heartbeat earlier than 2 Mhz one)

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  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    I’m so glad the doppler has been a positive experience for you guys and it has brought you peace when you have been worried. I never used one and really hadn’t even heard of one but, it sounds like such a neat experience! Happy 12 weeks by the way and thanks for the tip on the jeans! I am not familiar with Alloy but, I will check t hat out! Have a great week friend:)

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    I’m glad you like it! It’s nice to put your mind at ease.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    Congrats!! How wonderful to be able to check in on the baby!! Dh and I just found out I am pregnant as well! Which makes me wonder how you take your belly shots weekly. Do you have a timer or do you have someone help? I think that is a great idea to document the pregnancy.

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      July 19, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      Congratulations! I bet you’re so excited! You should definitely take weekly shots- they’re a fun way to see the progress. I shoot with a tripod and a remote. I have a weekly self-portrait tutorial and challenge meme on my photography blog where I used to teach how to take self-portraits. If you’d like, go over there for some tips ( non-pregnancy) on how to do it. You’d probably find the “full body” tutorial most useful: http://selfiemagic.com/2011/02/selfie-saturdays-our-dream-self/

      Good Luck!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    Hi there! I came across your blog while searching for pregnancy-safe face washes the other day. What a great blog you have here, and what a great thing you are doing for your little one!

    My husband and I, bored, made the mistake of streaming the documentary Homo Toxicus the other night on Netflix . . . not exactly the most uplifting thing to watch in early pregnancy! It’s one of those flicks that make you think, “shit, we’re screwed despite everything we do to avoid pesticides, ammonia-soaked and antibiotic-infested meats, BPA, etc, etc, etc.” So it was really refreshing to come across your blog and read about your journey to provide a toxin-free environment for your developing baby.

    Congratulations to you and your husband and good luck with the rest of the journey! Also, I hope you can find an excuse to rationalize busting out the doppler again in the near future. 😉

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