Successfully using an at-home Doppler comes down to the details. Here are five tips for finding that little heartbeat with yours:
Correct placement – Finding the right spot can be tricky at first, as most babies shift positions throughout pregnancy. If you’re earlier on, start at your lower abdomen and work your way up, beginning with your pubic bone. Your baby may shift lower into your uterus later in pregnancy.
Slow, steady pacing – Maneuvering your Doppler too quickly can make it difficult for the device to find your baby. So, rather than sweeping it from side to side, use a light, gentle rocking motion for 1 minute over a single area before moving elsewhere.
Gel application – You should have just enough gel to cover all explorable belly surface area. But if you use a heavy hand, the excess gel could result in air bubbles and create static. To find balance, squeeze a generous amount directly onto your skin and use the device to spread it as you go.
Practice on yourself – Trying out the Doppler on your own heart can help you get the hang of things. Just apply a little gel to your chest and follow the same steps you’d use to find your baby’s heartbeat.
When you’re about to hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, it’s normal to have some jitters. But the #1 tip for using an at-home Fetal Doppler is a lesson to take with you all pregnancy long: relax.
Remember, catching sight (or sound) of your baby’s very first noises at home is an exercise in “close listening” and patience. Make some tea, cozy up with a pillow, and make the experience a special one.