At Home Fetal Monitors:
How to Use Them & Why You Should Give Them a Try
If there’s any controversial maternity product on the market, it’s definitely the fetal monitor. Why, you may ask? It’s quite unclear.
When I told my mom friends about my recent discovery of at-home fetal monitors, they all had some bold statements to make about them.
“They cause unnecessary stress!”
“You’re going to become addicted.”
“You won’t know what to listen for. Only doctors can do that.”
I acknowledged my friends’ opinions and decided I would go into this whole experience knowing that my Up & Raise Digital Fetal Heartbeat Monitor would not replace doctor visits or be, on its own, a cause for concern. I also did some research to make sure that I wasn’t taking any unnecessary risks; what I found is that the FDA has said that no studies have shown any negative effects to developing babies from fetal doppler use. Additionally, a doppler uses sound waves that are much less intense than those of ultrasound imaging. With that in mind, I felt very comfortable using my Up & Raise heartbeat monitor.
There is nothing more thrilling than hearing your baby’s heartbeat, and I wanted the opportunity to hear it every time I missed it. Why wait a whole month for my next visit when I could listen to my baby’s heart pumping from the comfort of my own bedroom?
Using a fetal monitor is simple once you’re past the 12 week mark: all you need is ultrasound gel or baby oil (I use Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil and it works perfectly fine!), a comfortable place to lie, and your fetal monitor. You can also grab a few tissues or paper towels to wipe the excess gel, but I like to rub mine in as extra stretch mark protection. Lie down on a flat surface and expose your abdomen. Apply a blob of gel/oil to reduce static, and place the doppler probe right on your lubricated abdomen. I usually start right below my belly button and work my way down, slowly. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight tilt towards the left or right to catch the heartbeat. Small adjustments sometimes make a world of a difference. If you can’t find the heartbeat right away, be patient - it’s all about positioning. Once you catch a BPM of about 120 or higher, ta-da! That’s your heartbeat.
I was a bit nervous the first time I used my Up & Raise fetal monitor. What if I didn’t find the heartbeat and panicked? My jitters faded after two or three seconds.
I was blown away by the strength of it, a dozen galloping horses, right there in my abdomen. My husband and I bonded over this tender moment, listening to our little man already so full of life. I loved that we were able to listen through headphones, but also through the base of the doppler, which also doubles as a speaker. I was able to send my family abroad a sweet video, which was super special.
I’ve used my monitor a handful of times, maybe once every two weeks. Every single time I’ve found the heartbeat within seconds. I am now 22 weeks and track my baby’s movements throughout the day, so I only use my monitor when I need a bit of reassurance or a smile on my face before bed.
I’m so glad I decided to form my own opinion about at-home fetal monitors and didn’t let others’ opinions sway me ahead of time. When used correctly, and not as a replacement for medical visits, at-home fetal monitors are a safe and effective way for parents to bond with their baby.