Being pregnant is a miraculous experience. From the changes your body undergoes to growing a baby inside of you, it is an exhilarating journey. While there are numerous pregnancy moments that are incredible, one of the moments that will truly take your breath away is hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time. When you hear your baby’s heartbeat, the entire pregnancy becomes a whole lot more real and you’re able to connect with your baby on a wider level.
When does fetal heartbeat start?
The heart starts to develop during the third week of gestation. However, in most cases, fetal heartbeats start to occur at the fifth week of gestation. Doctors use the gestational age to calculate a pregnancy term which can differ from the actual fetal age.
Gestational age: This method is usually calculated from the first day of your last menstrual cycle. While it is a common method used by doctors to calculate fetal age, it usually calculates 2 extra weeks before the actual date you conceived.
Fetal age: The fetal age method is usually more accurate as it is based on the actual date of conception. You’ll likely find this calculation method two weeks shorter than gestational age.
When can you hear your baby’s heartbeat?
While a baby’s heart starts to beat at the fifth week of gestation, it is usually too faint to hear it. In most cases, you can start to hear a baby’s heartbeat at 8-9 weeks of your pregnancy, but it can still be irregular.
To prevent any worry from happening and to be able to check your baby’s heartbeat is regular and healthy, most doctors will schedule an ultrasound at 11-14 weeks. During this time, you can experience the baby’s heartbeat and your doctor will be able to give you a better overview of your developing baby’s health.
In some cases, your doctor may ask for an early ultrasound at 6-8 weeks to check your baby’s heartbeat and health if you have any of the following:
- A prior medical condition
- A previous miscarriage
- Difficulty maintaining a pregnancy in the past
When can you hear a baby’s heartbeat with a fetal doppler?
A fetal doppler is a handheld device that uses sound waves to check your baby’s heartbeat. It’s similar to an ultrasound that detects changes in movement and translates them into sounds.
When using a fetal doppler, you can pick up a baby’s heartbeat as early as 8-12 weeks of your pregnancy. It is best to wait until your first ultrasound when the heartbeat would be easier to hear, has a better rhythm, and is more stable.
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Sources used in this article:
- When can you hear your baby’s heartbeat? – Healthline
- When can you hear fetal heartbeat? – Flo Health
- Fetal doppler – Web MD