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Using a Doppler at Home – Your Questions Answered

Although undoubtably exciting, pregnancy can also be a time of worry. Your body is changing quickly, your hormones are raging and you are suddenly carrying the most precious cargo you have ever known. It is only natural to have some concerns, and to occasionally worry about the wellbeing of your baby, but for some women these feeling can be overwhelming.

Although you should always talk over any concerns about your health with your GP or midwife, using a doppler to listen to your baby can be immensely reassuring. As well calming fears, a doppler can also help to make the pregnancy seem more ‘real’ to both you and your family. With some models you can record your baby’s heartbeat as a special keepsake or record your own heartbeat to soothe your baby once he is born. Ultimately: “For any anxious parent nothing can reassure more than the sound of the galloping heart beat of their unborn child.”

So, are they safe to use? To answer that we need to be clear about what dopplers are. Dopplers are portable units consisting of a transducer and a speaker unit. To use, you simply apply a generous squidge of gel to your tummy, switch the unit on and hold the end of the transducer against your skin. It is totally painless and very easy to do.

Dopplers use ultrasound at an extremely low power level. This is why they run on just a household battery. The power level is hundreds of times lower than that used by the imaging scanners used in hospital and private clinics to show pictures of your baby. They are even about ten times less powerful than the units which are strapped to women during labour to continually monitor the baby for 24 to 48 hours at a time!

In addition to the countless clinical studies that have been carried out on ultrasound, portable dopplers have been in use for the past thirty years around the world with no adverse effects to either mother or baby ever reported; it is an impressive safety record.

On the other hand, the detrimental effects of maternal stress are well documented. Studies have shown links between high stress levels and pregnancy problems such as pre-eclampsia, premature delivery and low birth weight. While there are many factors that can play a part in reducing stress for an expectant mother, it is impossible to deny that for many women using a doppler at home can mean the difference between a happy, relaxed pregnancy and an ordeal of worry and fear.

Although available in Canada and the USA for several years, dopplers for home use are a relatively recent phenomenon here in the UK. Here are a few tips when choosing a doppler:

  • ·Do not confuse dopplers with other cheaper prenatal listening devices. These do not use ultrasound and only work in the third trimester.
  • ·Whether you choose to hire or buy a doppler, make sure it is medically-certified, CE-marked and is made by a manufacturer with full ISO approval.
  • ·Dopplers marked ‘FDA approved’ are not. No doppler has been FDA approved. The FDA has set guidelines for levels of ultrasound in dopplers but has not endorsed any particular make.
  • ·If you are purchasing over the Internet use the usual caution; make sure the company has provided an address and telephone number and offers secure card processing.
  • ·Check carefully for extras included in the price. You will need plenty of coupling gel for the doppler to work and, in most cases, a 9V battery.

Do not pay over-the-odds, but, as with all medical and electrical equipment, you do get what you pay for. Baby Beats dopplers are made in the UK to the strictest standards, are CE-marked and comply with all relevant regulations. Hire for just £24.99 per month or buy from £99.99.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Baby Beats. W www.baby-beats.co.uk T 0845 458 1587 E info@baby-beats.co.uk

1 Charlotte Julien, Midwife and Maternity Consultant, Charlies Little Angels.

By Sarah Painter, Baby Beats Ltd.
(c) Sarah Painter 2004.

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