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  • Mabel Foundation

Checking your baby's heart rate

Expecting mothers often patiently wait for their next prenatal appointment, anxious to hear their baby's heart rate, hoping to hear that everything is fine. Unfortunately, many mothers find out each year that their babies can experience a fatal event in the few days between scheduled appointments. Thousands of them rush to the emergency room, only to be devastated when their doctor finds no heart beat and no movement on the ultrasound.

Fortunately, their are some systems for detecting problems with the unborn baby before it's too late. Counting kicks can be a good system for determining how you baby is doing. By using this system, women who do notice a decrease in a baby's movements can (and should) seek medical attention immediately. In addition, pregnant women should also seek medical attention if they notice any unusual spotting, bleeding, or have stomachache symptoms.

Though kick counting can be very beneficial, it's not always possible. Certain conditions, like anterior placenta, make it more difficult for some women to feel their baby's movements, which make kick counting less reliable. Therefore, in the absence of other symptoms, using a baby doppler for a few minutes every week can be a good tool to determine if a baby is in distress. If the mother knows what her baby's heart rate typically is, she can use the doppler to see how the baby is doing (by comparing the current heart rate to the previously-recorded hear rate). Once again, if a pregnant woman notices any symptoms, she should seek medical attention. A doppler should NOT be used to rule out other symptoms. That is what the medical provider is for. In other words, a doppler can alert a pregnant woman to a symptom, but not a diagnosis. However, a baby doppler can be a useful too if no other symptoms exist. If the irregular heart rate is spotted early enough, it just may save the baby's life.

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