Fetal Doppler

Home-based baby heartbeat monitor

Every pregnant woman eventually (and sometimes periodically) has the awful thought, “What if it died in there?” Most women at that point have to spend some time either distracting themselves from the awful notion or talking themselves out of it.

Not me!

That’s because I have a fetal doppler, a gizmo that allows me to hear my baby’s heartbeat. A fetal doppler is about the size of an old Sony Walkman tape player. Attached to a curly phone-style cord is a wand shaped a bit like a microphone. Smear some ultrasound conductive gel (KY will work in a pinch) on the end and put the tip of the microphone against your abdomen about where you think the baby is, and, Bingo, instant mental relief. Safer than a sedative, faster than meditation, cheaper than therapy.

My fetal doppler device is manufactured by Danatech. While there are companies who are focused on selling and renting fetal dopplers direct to consumers, they are also widely available on eBay, where I got mine, and you may be able to find a bargain. I highly recommend getting a doppler unit with an LCD screen that includes heart-rate readout, as it makes it easier to distinguish the sound of your own heart rate (somewhere around 60-80 for most of us at rest) and your baby’s (quite a bit higher, often 120-140).
Expect to pay between $150 for a unit without an LCD screen and up to $250 for one with an LCD screen.

-- Lisa Williams 10/27/03

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