Can I buy a fetal Doppler to hear my twins’ heartbeats at home?
The use of at-home fetal Dopplers has skyrocketed in the last few years. These hand-held devices work like the one in your doctor’s office, using ultrasound waves to detect the babies’ heartbeats. Many parents-to-be claim these devices reduce fear and are a fun way to connect with their babies in between appointments. However, experts including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), caution against their use for a few reasons.
While research shows they are unlikely to cause harm (unless used excessively), an at-home Doppler does not have much medical benefit either. Rather, they are often the source of more anxiety when used improperly or too early to detect a heartbeat. At-home Doppler devices don’t work as well as the ones in a doctor’s office, making it difficult to find the heartbeat. This can lead to unnecessary worry. You may have more luck in your third trimester, but by then your belly will feel like a soccer tournament so there’s no need to listen, just monitor their movement.
Also, unless you’re an OB you might not know how to interpret what you’re hearing. Often, the doppler picks up your heartbeat instead which can lead to a false sense of security and missed warning signs of complications. That said, living in constant fear over the fate of your unborn babies isn’t healthy either. If you find yourself unable to sleep or worried sick in between appointments, talk to your doctor. They may offer a recommendation for an at-home Doppler or another solution.