When Can You First Hear Your Baby's Heartbeat?

You can already hear your baby's heartbeat in the womb. With the right medical tests and monitoring, there's a lot you can learn about your baby before he or she is born.
When Can You First Hear Your Baby's Heartbeat?

Last update: 05 January, 2019

A baby’s heart starts to beat about 21 days into gestation. However, parents won’t be able to hear it until the sixth week, using an ultrasound. In this article we’ll discuss the incredible sound of your baby’s heartbeat.

The ultrasound needs to be done after the sixth week of pregnancy or, occasionally, during the seventh or eighth week. During this period, the baby’s heart beats at more than 100 beats per minute. 

Pregnant women often find this check-up very exciting and emotional. After the exam they may even feel that their connection to the baby has become even stronger.

However, the check-up isn’t just important for emotional reasons: the ultrasound and other modern tests confirm that the embryo is healthy and can make you and your doctor aware of any complications.

According to specialists, it’s vital that pregnant women have a doppler ultrasound regularly. This is used to verify that the baby’s cardiovascular system is working well as it develops. It also strengthens the bond between mother and child.

How Many Beats per Minute is Normal?

Mothers at the first ultrasound often describe the sound of their baby’s heartbeat as a herd of galloping horses. This can be concerning.

It’s also normal for the embryo’s heartbeat to progressively speed up, reaching up to 170 beats per minute during the second month, with constant cardiac fluctuation up until birth.

When Can You First Hear Your Baby's Heartbeat?

A 2010 study published in the magazine Sports Medicine showed that maternal exercise during  the final trimester does have an effect on the heart and circulation of the mother and baby. This creates a system that protects and regulates the health of both mother and child up until birth.

Many women are frightened when the baby’s heart rate decreases, but this is common during contractions.

Professionals explain that during a contraction, blood flow to the placenta reduces. Consequently, the child’s heart rate slows down. The baby’s pulse will return to normal at the end of the contraction. This can be checked with a doppler ultrasound.

Using Equipment such as the Portable Fetal Ultrasound to Hear Your Baby’s Heartbeat

Recently, hand-held electronic doppler ultrasounds have come to dominate the market among pregnant women. Among other things, this is because it allows mothers to re-live some of the exam experiences at home.

Although this type of device hasn’t yet been accepted by the professional community, future parents are using them more and more. However, it’s important to have the facts before you do.

Professionals have differing opinions about their use. Some advantages include:

  • They have headphone jacks
  • Those with speakers allow multiple family members to listen at the same time.
  • You can connect them with your smartphone. A downloadable App allows you to record the baby’s heartbeat on your phone and see the ultrasound image on your screen.
  • Parents and anyone else who wants to can listen to the baby’s heartbeat whenever and wherever they want.

“Many women are frightened when the baby’s heart rate decreases, but this is common during contractions.”

Using and Maintaining the Portable Doppler Ultrasound

Using the portable doppler ultrasound is similar to the ultrasound you’ll have at the doctor’s office. Like in that exam, you’ll need to apply a gel for it to work correctly. Using gel is important. If you don’t, you can damage the machine.

One of the disadvantages for many users is difficulty of use. At the same time, they also warn about possible errors in the reading that can result in worries for future parents about their baby’s heartbeat.

When Can You First Hear Your Baby's Heartbeat?

The fetal doppler ultrasound converts any interior movement it detects into sound. As a result, the normal flux of your body’s system can be picked up by the machine, read as data, and lead to false beliefs about the speed of your baby’s pulse.

We recommend treating these types of products with caution. For generally anxious people or those who tend to worry unnecessarily, it’s best to leave these exams to the professionals and go to all the recommended doctor’s visits and check ups. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.