What are the different ways to measure fetal heart rate?

    The three most common methods to measure and monitor the fetal heart rate (FHR) are by using either a handheld fetal Doppler ultrasound device, also known as intermittent auscultation, by electronic fetal monitoring, or by use of a special stethoscope.

    Electronic fetal monitoring, either internal or external, measures both the FHR and the contractions of the mother, and records the results continuously, in graphical form. Electronic fetal monitoring can be used both externally or internally; internal fetal monitoring of the FHR is an invasive procedure and requires attaching a spiral electrode to the baby’s scalp.

    Using a stethoscope, on the contrary, is much simpler and less invasive, and is typically used after about the 30-week gestation period.

    What is a fetal Doppler?

    A is a non-invasive monitoring device used to measure the fetal heart rate of babies, before delivery.

    How does a fetal Doppler work?

    The portable handheld Doppler is a convenient device that uses the principle of the Doppler Effect to record and measure the FHR through an external, non-invasive way. The fetal heart Doppler works by means of emitting and receiving continuous ultrasound waves, and then registering the shift in frequency and wavelength. For example, imagine you are driving, and you hear the sirens of a police car behind you. As the police car gets closer to you, the sound will increase, and as it gets farther and farther away, the sound will decrease. The same principle is used by a fetal Doppler. In this case, the moving object, instead of being the police car, is the fetal heart. As the distance between the probe and the fetal heart becomes closer, the baby’s heartbeat will become louder.

    What are the ?

    There are two main types of fetal dopplers: audio-only fetal dopplers and digital fetal dopplers. Audio-only fetal dopplers allow you to listen to the heartbeat of your baby, while digital fetal dopplers, in addition to allowing you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat, have a digital display of the baby’s heartbeat.

    What kind of probes are fetal Dopplers equipped with?

    Each is equipped with a 3 MHz or a 2 MHz probe, which is waterproof. The higher frequency probe will produce shorter wavelengths than the lower frequency one. The results of millions of tests prove that 3 MHz works better than the lower frequency option during pregnancy. However, in some rare cases where the expectant mother is overweight, the lower-frequency 2 MHz probe has been shown to be more effective.


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