There is a great post on the Count The Kicks website called Why Shouldn’t I Use a Home Doppler? It advises pregnant women against using their own doppler machine to listen to their baby’s heartbeat because we are not medically trained to use it and to interpret the heartbeat.
Home Dopplers are very popular – I only had to take a wander across to Amazon to see the reviews and I imagine they provide reassurance for anxious women. I’ll be completely honest and say I am not a fan of them – they seem to be a product that focuses on women’s anxieties in pregnancy. I guess it is about using them sensibly – yes hearing your baby’s heartbeat could provide reassurance but it could also cause a great deal of additional anxiety if you can’t find your baby’s heartbeat.
We are not medically trained to use dopplers or to understand/interprete the baby’s heartbeat and, while The British Medical Ultrasound Society states that dopplers are safe when used within the guidance, I have concerns that we don’t know the effects of greater use outside the recommended use in pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be a really vulnerable time of anxiety and worry because we all want our baby to be safe and healthy. But sometimes babies die – it is the cruel and tragic side of pregnancy and I am not sure home dopplers do anything to change that. As Count The Kicks states: “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.”
The truth is that the vast majority of us do not know what we are listening for.
Instead it can be beneficial for pregnant women to get to know their baby’s movements and to get checked out if they change or if they are concerned about anything. Even a gut instinct is worth checking out.