The fetal stethoscope is used for measuring the heartbeat of a fetus. The device allows medics to know whether the cardiac changes in a fetus or newborn are normal. Monitoring these changes is important to ensure the infant is safe.
There are different methods doctors and nurses use to monitor newborns and fetus. However, none of the methods is better than using specialized stethoscopes.
There are various cardiac monitoring systems in the market. Therefore, it is important for caregivers, parents, midwives and hospital managements to know the differences in these systems. This will enable them choose the best fetal monitoring systems for their specific needs.
What is a Fetal Stethoscope?
Let’s look at some common types of fetal steths in the market.
At times called a Pinard, Pinard’s stethoscope or a fetoscope, this stethoscope has been in the medical world for a long time.
The fetal stethoscope is popular for its design, which does not require using ultrasound waves or electricity to detect heartbeat sounds from inside the womb. The steth solely relies on resonance of the heartbeat sounds.
The fetal stethoscope is cone shaped. To use it correctly, you have to place the larger end of the cone on a pregnant woman’s belly or lower abdomen. After this, use the smaller end side to listen through your ear canals.
In low-income (under developed) and middle income countries, fetal stethoscopes are extremely important in assessing the health and safety of unborn kids.
An infant stethoscope is a listening gadget that resembles the traditional stethoscope doctors and nurses use to check patients’ breathing and heartbeats.
The major difference between a regular stethoscope and an infant steth is in the head rest or chin for the care provider. The infant stethoscope uses a specialized bell, which is always placed on the pregnant woman’s womb. The steth also has highly sensitive earpieces which are connected by tubes. These enhance the sounds from the area underneath the bell.
Uses of Infant Stethoscope: Healthcare vs. Home
Clinics and other medical facilities have specialized devices used to monitor an unborn child’s heartbeat. Most often, an OBGYN or a nurse is the one directly involved in monitoring the heartbeat of a pregnant patient.
The professionals then take the results to be interpreted to detect inconsistencies or problems in the unborn infant’s heartbeat rhythm. These medical professionals have use sensitive technological equipment that allow them to correctly interpret the results.
It is safe to use fetal monitoring gadgets at home to check high risk pregnancies, fetal health and multiple births.
There various portable monitors that can be used at home. You can use the devices to monitor your unborn child’s heartbeat on your own. This eliminates the need of traveling from home, dealing with paperwork issues and insurance dramas, and the uncomfortable feeling of undressing in front of a stranger.
Why Do I Need an Infant Stethoscope at Home?
No one is ever prepared for the unpredictability of pregnancy. First-time parents or those with high risk pregnancies are usually worried of what is happening in the womb before their child is born.
With an infant stethoscope, you can regularly check on your little one. This will reduce stress of being unsure and save you the expenses of traveling to the hospital and paying doctors’ fees for a checkup.
WARNING: To avoid panic due to false reading, learn how to use and interpret results of an infant stethoscope.
How to Use a Fetal Monitoring Device
After locating the heartbeat, using the fetal monitoring device will not be difficult.
The fetus heartbeat is normally soft. Moreover, you may get distracted due to the position of the fetus in the womb, the mothers’ sounds, and background noises. Because of these, it might take you long to detect the heartbeats.
Here are some basic tips that will help you detect the heartbeats fast:
- Ensure the room where the mother is lying is quiet. There should also be a comfortable place for the mother to lie.
- Place the stethoscope’s larger cone side on the lower abdomen (the womb). You might have to play around with the stethoscope to locate the infant’s back and ultimately to locate the heartbeat sounds. This is however easier after 20 weeks of gestation.
- After determining the heartbeat of the fetus, start counting the beats made per minute. The heartbeats may be between 120 and 160 beats, which are considerably higher than of adults, which is always below 100.
Watch the video below for more information:
What You Will Be Listening
When using an infant stethoscope to listen to the fetal heartbeat, the specific sounds you will hear can be confusing.
The sounds you should expect should be “whoosh whoosh” sounds. These are what you should count for certain time duration. You then calculate the beats by multiplying them accordingly.
For example, if you had counted the beats for 10 seconds, multiply the number you got by 6. This will give you the heartbeats per minute.
An infant stethoscope will help you detect any irregularities or abnormalities in the fetal heartbeat.
Listening To a Fetal Heartbeat
Even well trained medics or caregivers need a lot of practice to be skilled at listening to the fetal heartbeat.
You have to place the larger end of the cone shaped steth on a patient’s abdomen, and then slightly press it to get clearer sounds. Rest your forehead or chin to create more pressure on the abdomen. This way, the stethoscopes ear buds will detect clearer sounds from the baby and the patient.
Locate the front and back sides of the fetus to get clearer heartbeats.
How to Choose a Fetal Stethoscope
Here are some of the most important things to consider when choosing a fetal stethoscope.
The gadget you choose should perform as expected, in whatever circumstance.
The infant stethoscope is ideal for low risk pregnancies. However, high risk pregnancies may require more advanced fetal monitoring devices.
Each pregnancy is unique. Therefore, you have to assess the situation to decide if a stethoscope, a horn or an electronic system will be best for you.
Infants are delicate and most of their organs are not fully developed. The devices used in examining, monitoring or treating them should therefore be of high quality.
Never rely solely on information from the manufacturer to confirm the products’ quality. Instead, go further and check independent product and customer reviews. Check discussions in online forums, where you can ask about other people’s experience with the stethoscope.
Depending on the device you choose, the number and parts the caregiver and pregnant patient will get in contact with will vary.
The horn is the simplest infant steth, as it only has a horn. The horn has no parts that will ever need replacement.
The fetal stethoscope is more complicated as it contains sensitive external and internal components. The steth will not work as expected if any part is distorted. Handle the steth carefully during use or when traveling.
The cost of fetal monitoring devices varies based on the complexity of the device.
The best infant monitoring system to buy one that is easy to use and won’t cost you a lot. Of course, also consider your medical skills and preferences. Check prices of the best fetal stethoscopes on Amazon.
A good fetal monitoring device is only as good as it can last. Find a monitoring device that can withstand the stress and strain of everyday use.
If you are a homecare specialist or home midwife who is always on the road, choose a stethoscope that can accommodate your kind of work.
Occasionally, you might need to travel with your monitoring gadget. Choose a model that is lightweight to carry during your trips. If most of the time you are just at home, you can go for the larger, heavier units.
Choose a device that is reliable. Go through reviews and consumer reports to find reliable devices in the market. Compare factors like the battery life of the unit, recharging capabilities, power sources and so on. Why purchase a device that you can’t use in the case of an emergency?
Get the Best Fetal Stethoscope for Your Needs
Sometimes, there may be panic at home or the hospital due to use of a malfunctioning device to monitor the heartbeat of an unborn child. This fear and panic is uncalled for and can be avoided if you know some information about the development of a fetus heart.
Below are some of the best fetoscopes in the market.
Continuous Fetal Monitor
This device is used almost exclusively in hospitals to monitor pregnancy in the late stages, just prior to delivery or during delivery. In some special cases, the device may be used at home e.g. in the case of bed ridden women expecting multiple births. Such a situation requires monitoring results and the progression dates to be compared constantly.
Unlike other heartbeat monitoring devices, the pinard is not complicated. Doctors and midwives in low-income countries that have no modern medical equipment or electricity usually use the Pinard Horn to detect the fetus heartbeat.
Don’t confuse the simplicity of this device with its ability to perform. The portable device is not only effective, but also reliable, budget friendly and durable. You do not need any formal training to correctly use this device. A nurse, caregiver, midwife or doctor can instruct you on how to use the horn.
Fetoscopes have ear pieces that make the ear canals sound proof to outside noises. Moreover, they have long tubes that are similar to those of the regular stethoscope and a bell.
Fetoscopes also have a forehead rest or added chin where the bell and the long tube meet. This adds pressure to the fetal area so that a greater sound barrier and clearer internal readings of the heartbeat can be obtained.
This monitoring device uses ultrasound technology to detect a fetus heartbeat from as early as the 8th week (for highly specialized gadgets) or from 12 weeks.
It is not approved or recommended for home use by the FDA. Therefore, it is mostly used in a professional setting, usually at a doctor’s office, the clinic or the hospital.
Although there are various infant or fetal monitoring devices, the best one will depend on your individual circumstances. All the devices enable new parents and professionals to hear the breathtaking baby sounds from their mothers’ tummy.
When looking for a baby heartbeat monitoring device, consider things like portability, functionality and price. Also, consider the medical needs of the child and the mother.