It is normal for expectant couples to have concerns about the health of the baby and to be worried. Many feel that having a Doppler for home use is comforting and reassuring. A fetal Doppler is the machine that is used by most medical professionals to listen to the sounds of the womb at prenatal check-ups. These noises can usually be heard by the tenth week of pregnancy. The baby’s heart beat, cord sounds, and placenta noises can all be heard with this ultrasonic device. It has become a routine procedure of prenatal care.
You can either buy a Doppler machine or rent one. Online is really the best place to look. Dopplers usually cost about $500, and rental usually costs about $25 a month. You often receive a discount if you prepay for 3-6 months. There are some places where you will pay more or less. You will also need batteries and gel. You’ll also have to pay for shipping. If you decide to buy, you can save money by buying secondhand. You may be able to find one on a forum you frequent, Craigslist, or even Ebay. Remember when you rent there is the risk that you will break the model and be held liable.
StorkRadio.com has several models for sale, ranging from $279-599.00. Rental runs from $20-49 a month, less if you prepay for 3-6 months. When you prepay for a few months you’ll end up paying $14-They offer a free 10-day trial. Shipping ranges from free to $35 for domestic delivery. Power ranges from 2-3MgHz. One model has a display where it counts the fetal heart rate for you. They do sell insurance in case you break the device for $29.95.
BabyBeat.com has a large selection of models. They sell from $449 to $599. Rental ranges from $18 a month to $49 a month. To insure the Doppler you’ll pay $19.95, just once. Shipping ranges from free to $35 for domestic shipping. Rental fees apply towards the cost if you desire to purchase the device for continued prenatal listening.
BellyBeats.com has regular and digital Dopplers. The basic model rents for $25 a month, and the digital rents for $45. Shipping is totally free. The lotion costs $3-8 and also ships free. Right now overnight shipping is $20 and includes a bottle of lotion. They seem to run specials like this often. I do not see where they offer an insurance policy.
SweetBeats.com requires a prescription, and according to their site, this is actually in compliance with federal law. Acquiring a prescription isn’t that difficult. Just ask your doctor. This site also has a very large selection of models. You can purchase for $225 to $599 here. Rentals run $18 to $49 a month. Shipping again ranges from free to $30. Rental insurance costs $29.95.
Using the Doppler is very easy. Lay down on your back and uncover your belly. Turn the machine on, and adjust the volume. Put some gel on the wand, and begin slowly moving it over your belly. You may have to do a bit of searching before you find anything. You can try not only moving it around but aiming it in different directions. In the early weeks you will need to aim the Doppler down toward your pubic bone. Having a full bladder may help. Pay attention to your provider when he or she uses the Doppler. Ask for pointers if you need help.
Distinguishing between the sounds of the womb will take time to learn to do. If you hear gurgling, that is probably gas. Other sounds are easily distinguished as fetal movement. The baby’s heartbeat will be very rapid and sound much like a galloping horse or approaching train. Some Dopplers will count the heart rate for you. The cord will make a “boing” sound, as though you had flicked a spring, similar to what you’d here if you waved a slinky back and forth. It will do this in tune with the baby’s heartbeat. The placenta makes a whooshing, as though waves are crashing by, and will be very slow like the maternal heart rate. If you are having trouble, ask your provider to help you learn how distinguish the noises at your next visit.
There are some concerns about the safety of the Doppler. Many feel that ultrasounds haven’t been around long enough for us to determine their long-term effects. Fetal movement increases during ultrasound, which can be a sign of distress. The sound waves bouncing around may be extremely loud and potentially damaging to the infant’s ears. The temperature of the womb may increase. Some data suggests that ultrasound can even cause alterations at a cellular level and that frequent usage is linked to speech delays. One minute of Doppler is said to be equal to 30 minutes of ultrasound, as ultrasound uses intermittent sound waves while Doppler is constant.
Alternatives to Doppler technology include the BeBe Sounds Prenatal Heart Listener and Fetoscopes. With the heart listener, you may be able to find the baby’s heartbeat and hear noises in the placenta, like movement. You will not likely to be able to hear cord or placenta sounds. It does have the option to record the noises to playback later or email to others. Unfortunately, many have had little luck hearing anything at all with it and feel it was a waste of $20 (myself included). It also does not work until late in the third trimester. Fetoscopes can be used after 18 weeks, are nonlectronic and very reliable, and can detect placenta sounds, movement, and fetal heart rate. They cost about $20.
If you are concerned about the safety of the Doppler, but still want to listen in, you can try one of these other devices. I recommend the fetoscope. Some people chose to use a Doppler only until they are far enough along to use the fetoscope. You can do this, Doppler and then fetoscope, or you can wait until you are 18 weeks to listen in at home with just the fetoscope. If you chose to use only the Doppler, you can limit the risk by using it only briefly and occasionally. It is especially handy if you are having an unassisted pregnancy, an unassisted homebirth, or a midwife-attended homebirth. It can also help ease tension when you are high-risk or postdate.
Dopplers aren’t necessary to have a healthy pregnancy, but many parents find it reassuring to have one. You can buy one new for as little as $300, or you can spend $600 for a nicer model. Doppler rental is very affordable, running about $20 a month. You could also chose an alternative. There are risks to consider, but the choice is yours. Dopplers are very easy to use and can be a lot of fun. There are a lot of options for renting and buying one. I hope you find one that’s right for you!