The happiness when you finally get a positive result in your pregnancy test can be infectious. But the reality of the tiny life being grown inside of you sinks in only after you hear the beating heart. You can expect to hear a baby’s beating heart when you are 5 or 6 week into your pregnancy stage. This is about 6 weeks from your last menstrual cycle or 2 weeks after you have missed your period. An early ultrasound can detect this fetal heartbeat around the 7th or 8th week.
What is a Normal Fetal Heart Rate (FHR)?
Between week 10 and your delivery, the average heart rate of the fetus can be found to be 120 to 160 beats per minute. Compare this to the average adult heart rate, which is between 60 and 100 beats per minute! Just like adults’ heart rate varies naturally as they wake up, indulge in daily activities and then go to sleep, your baby’s heart rate will also vary naturally due to the baby’s movements inside your belly and his/her sleep cycle.
Why is it Important to Check Fetal Heart Rate During Prenatal Checkups?
To determine whether the baby is doing well, a doctor will generally first check his heart rate at a prenatal appointment. Monitoring of FHR is done regularly by doctors even for normal pregnancies, but it is even more crucial in case of high-risk pregnancy conditions – high blood sugar or high blood pressure in the mother, late pregnancy age, or problems with fetal growth.
Doctors can determine the progress of a pregnancy since FHR varies over the course of pregnancy:
- In the very early stages, around 5th-6th week, FHR is very close to the maternal heart rate of 90 to 110 beats per minute (bpm).
- In the next 2-3 weeks, it accelerates up to 170 bpm.
- From week 10 onwards, FHR starts going down again – 150 bpm by week 14, 140 bpm by week 20 or 5th month of pregnancy to finally around 130 bpm at full term.
What can Cause FHR to Change?
FHR can vary naturally due to many reasons. A baby’s movements are the most common cause for variation in FHR. Movement of baby generally causes an acceleration in his heart rate. In contrast, the heart rate slows down while a baby sleeps. However, a low heart rate sustained over a period of time can be a cause for concern since it may point to low oxygen intake, and this should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible.
Myths about FHR and Gender
People have speculated that FHR can tell a baby’s gender however research suggests this is untrue. Various studies have looked for a relationship between FHR and the baby’s gender. The majority of such studies have concluded that there is no significant relationship between the two.
How can You Measure FHR at Home?
While there have been many handheld Doppler devices in the market for a long time, they all need some sort of expertise to find and recognize fetal heart rate. Many times they can confuse the mother’s HR with baby’s which can be dangerous. Rest assured, the Israeli company – HeraMED has finally come up with a highly accurate and sleek product that allows expecting mothers to easily track their baby’s heart rate at home and share it with their loved ones or doctor!
HeraBEAT comes with an app, that guides the expecting mother to locate the fetal heart rate, hear the baby’s heartbeat and see the fetal heart rate. All the information gets saved week by week over the course of the pregnancy giving the expecting parents the much-needed continuity of care they crave for. Apart from just helping them monitor their beloved baby’s wellbeing, it is also a great tool to bond with your bundle of joy and share the pregnancy experience with your family.