Thoughts from a labour ward midwife... why you should never use a home doppler

Welcome to my Wednesday morning rant!

Home dopplers – why they are allowed to be sold to be general public makes me so angry!!! You don’t see ECG machines or ultrasound scanners on sale at your local pharmacy, so why this piece of medical equipment is for sale is beyond me!

What is a home doppler?

A home doppler is a small hand held device usually used by midwives and doctors to listen to your baby’s heartbeat.

Why is the sale of them to the general public a relatively new problem?

Whilst they used to cost £100s, they are now affordable.

What’s the problem with me using one to check by baby is ok?

There’s a reason midwives and doctors take years to train to use equipment such as this. Although you may think you’re finding your baby’s heartbeat easily..

·         You may be listening to your own heartbeat

·         You may be listening to your baby’s cord pulsation

·         You may be unaware that you are listening to an abnormal heartbeat

The problem is, people are now using these dopplers as a reason not to speak to their midwife or doctor about concerns they may have. For example, they may have a small bleed or they may be concerned about their baby’s movements, but they use the doppler for reassurance. This is a problem because

·         A heartbeat alone is NOT reassuring – you may have seen the ‘count the kicks’ campaign which explains that if you saw someone passed out on the street, you wouldn’t check their heartbeat then walk off and leave them.

·         As mentioned above, you may not be listening to the heartbeat or a normal heartbeat anyway

Well what if I just want to listen for fun, and I don’t have any concerns about myself or my baby?

Because you are untrained and may find it difficult to find the baby’s heartbeat, or find your own heartbeat and worry it’s the baby and it’s too slow. You will then inevitably panic, and use already strained NHS resources to be checked over unnecessarily.

BEING AWARE OF YOUR BABY’S MOVEMENTS IS THE BEST WAY TO KEEP YOUR BABY SAFE. PLEASE DON’T USE HOME DOPPLERS.