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  • As an expectant mother, you're excited about every milestone that you reach in your pregnancy. Hearing the baby's heartbeat for the first time can be absolutely breathtaking, and is often the first sign that the baby is developing well. But actually feeling the baby's heart beat during your pregnancy won't usually happen.

    Feeling vs Hearing the Heartbeat

    Pregnant women often feel pulsing sensations after becoming pregnant, but this is usually not the baby's heartbeat. The beating sensation is often the mother's pulse, and can sometimes be excess gas since the body is adjusting to the pregnancy. Most of the time, when the mother places her hand on her stomach and feels a heartbeat, it is her own. However, the baby moves in the womb pretty actively during the second and third trimesters, and can be felt changing positions or kicking. The fetal heartbeat can be heard using medical instruments throughout the entire pregnancy.

    The Fetal Heartbeat

    The baby's heart starts beating just 22 days after conception, which is a little more than a month after the last menstrual period. The heart is very small at this stage, so the beating sound can't be picked up even with medical equipment, but doctors can show you where the baby's chest is moving in an ultrasound. During this stage, you won't be able to feel the baby moving, but as the fetus grows, the heartbeat will become much more evident.

    Fetal Development

    After about the 10th week of pregnancy, you should be able to hear your baby's heartbeat loud and clear. Your doctor will most likely use a Doppler instrument, which bounces sound waves off of the baby's heart so that you can hear the heartbeat while watching your baby move during the ultrasound. The Doppler instrument works successfully based on the motion of the fetus, and the device has to be placed at just the right angle. If the baby is resting in a certain position in the uterus where the heartbeat can not be picked up by the Doppler device, simply wait a few weeks and have the heartbeat monitored again when the baby's position changes.

    Interpreting Fetal Heart Rates

    The normal heart rate for your unborn baby is between 120 and 160 beats a minute. There is no real difference between a baby girl or baby boy's heart beat, so listening to the Doppler instrument will not help to determine the sex of your baby. Parents should also know that sometimes the sound of the heartbeat will be faint, but this does not mean that the fetus is in any developmental danger. The volume could just be due to the settings on the Doppler device.

    Listening at Home

    If you want to hear your baby's heartbeat in between doctor visits, you can buy a stethoscope or Doppler instrument to use any time you want. As the pregnancy progresses, you'll feel a variety of movements that will assure you that your baby is growing safely and healthily. There's no known medical risk to listening to the heart beat as often as you want, and the regular ultrasounds that you'll receive will help you to compare the growth of your baby's heart with the new rhythms that you hear.

    Source: Hearing the Fetal Heartbeat Baby Development By Trimester

    More Information: Fetal Doppler Baby Heart Beat Monitor

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