The pregnancy stethoscope is a useful diagnostic tool to keep track of the healthy development of the fetus and the normal course of pregnancy in the absence of monitoring or ultrasound. In their daily work, doctors, nurses, and family doctors all use it. If the medical equipment is suitable for your activity, it is easy to use, cheap, and gives a significant performance. Any stethoscope will do to hear the baby’s heart. How do you pick a stethoscope that is appropriate for prenatal consultations? Here are the requirements that must be met in order to use this useful tool.
Can a baby’s heart be heard with a stethoscope?
The stethoscope’s function is to magnify the interior noise of the body portion being examined. So, if it’s controlled, you might be able to hear the fetal heartbeat. It is nevertheless a sophisticated medical diagnostic tool even though it is based on the fundamental principle of vibration.
Despite being well-known and appearing to be straightforward in design, it delivers performance and features that differ based on its design. In contrast to the fetal heart rate range, the acoustic medical examination, for instance, is restricted to frequencies between 20 and 1500 Hertz when listening to Korotkoff while taking blood pressure.
High sound quality is necessary to accurately detect fetal sounds when listening to the fetal heart with a stethoscope is the main objective. As a result, the model selection must be adapted to your type depending on your consultant, your practice conditions, as well as to you personally if you are an individual.
When can I hear the fetal heartbeat?
The baby’s heartbeat will be audible to the mother during the first seven weeks of pregnancy, but it won’t be until the 20th week or so that the heartbeat can be heard using a stethoscope.
As early as five and a half to six weeks into the pregnancy, a vaginal ultrasound may reveal the first signs of a fetal heartbeat. At that time, a fetal pole, the earliest audible indication of a developing fetus, may occasionally be seen. Until week seven, an ultrasound cannot see a heartbeat. From week six to week eight, the average heart rate (HR) ranges between 110 and 130 beats per minute.
How is the baby’s heartbeat audible when in the womb?
An equally popular technique is for doctors to listen to the fetal CTG heart rate. It is based on employing specialized sensors to capture the infant’s heart and motor activity. The womb is where they are put. At 30 weeks of pregnancy, this operation is typically performed.
How is the stethoscope used?
To locate the heartbeat, place the stethoscope on your abdomen and move it carefully. The listening position will depend on how the fetus is positioned: if the baby is sitting up, you should place the stethoscope just above the umbilical cavity; if the baby is upside down, you should place the stethoscope below the umbilical cavity.
How to choose your stethoscope: acoustic sensitivity criteria
It was Dr. René Laennec who invented the stethoscope in 1816. Since the first copy was made of a roll of paper and then a wooden tube, the designs have largely evolved. Each element that constitutes a pregnancy stethoscope must be taken into account to assess its degree of sensitivity:
- Diaphragm: constructed of stainless steel or zinc alloy with a chrome finish. Stainless steel, which offers durability and ideal acoustics, is frequently used in high-end stethoscope lines in particular.
- Hearing wire sheath: rubber or synthetic rubber is used to make the headphone covering (PVC). Due to contact with greasy substances on the skin, natural rubber has the drawback of gradually hardening over time. So currently, the majority of stethoscope producers use PVC in their creations.
- Ear tube: made of stainless steel or chromium-plated zinc alloy. Stainless steel will increase the hearing straps’ durability and sound insulation, allowing for comfortable angle adjustments without worrying about breaking.
- Ear tips: there are two varieties: hard plastic and soft rubber. Soft rubber in particular will be more comfortable to use and easier to put next to the ear. Additionally, you must be careful while selecting ear tips for your ears because the wrong size might hurt your ears and the wrong size can slide out of your ears and mix with a lot of outside noise. A set of multi-size listening buttons that can be easily adjusted based on the user’s demands is now included with some stethoscopes.
Other tools to listen to your baby’s heartbeat at home
You may also hear your baby’s heartbeat at home without a stethoscope. The fetal heart can also be heard using different kinds of equipment, including:
- Fetoscope: As early as the 20th week of pregnancy, a fetoscope can be used to hear the heartbeat of the developing fetus. It’s challenging to find this stuff in stores, though. Ask your physician or another healthcare provider where to purchase the device if you decide to buy it.
- Fetal Doppler: The fetal cardiac Doppler device is not FDA-approved for use at home, and there is insufficient data to support its efficacy and safety in this setting.
- Cell phone microphone: You can hear your baby’s heartbeat with the heart rate applications on your phone However, given that numerous studies have demonstrated that heart rate cannot be accurately detected using mobile devices, its dependability is low. Additionally, placing your ear close to the mother’s tummy may enable you to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
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