· Use a generous amount of Ultrasound gel.
· Re-apply gel if you have been using the fetal doppler for some time as it dries out relatively quickly. A full bladder often helps, especially in early pregnancy.
· Place the fetal doppler probe low down on your abdomen - near your bikini line.
· Tilt the fetal doppler probe downwards towards the pubic bone.
· Move the fetal doppler probe VERY SLOWLY until you pick up the heartbeat.
· For best results keep the transducer handle as still as possible to maintain a steady signal It is common for the fetal doppler to pick up the heartbeat in two different places - do not be alarmed, this is the same heartbeat. As your pregnancy progresses gradually place the probe higher up on your abdomen.
· The fetal heart sounds like the hoofbeats of a galloping horse. If you hear a whooshing sound this is the sound of the placenta.
· The fetal heart rate is usually between 140 and 160 beats per minute, approximately twice that of the mother's heart rate. But the heart rate varies depending upon the time of day and the amount of the baby's activity. You can usually hear the baby's heart beat from about twelve weeks, sometimes you can hear it as early as ten weeks.
· It can take a bit of practice before you can quickly locate the baby's heart beat. Even midwives sometimes find it difficult to locate the heart beat. If you are having difficulty in picking up the baby's heart beat, there could be a number of reasons for this: poor quality of signal due to the handle position, foetal position, maternal position or foetal or maternal movement. Too little gel or noise or other interference can also affect the monitor's ability to pick up the heartbeat.
· Remember that in the early stages of pregnancy the foetus is still quite small (approx 5cm at 12 weeks) and so locating the heartbeat is not always easy.