Fetal Monitor

How to choose a home fetal monitor

Fetal monitoring is one of the most fascinating aspects of a pregnancy. Many mothers-to-be, especially those with high-risk pregnancies or first-baby anxieties, find the sound of their baby's heart rate so reassuring that they choose to buy or rent a home fetal monitor, rather than waiting for their next doctor's visit. Home fetal monitors typically cost around $400 to $450, but given their temporary use, many people choose simply to rent the monitors for the more reasonable price of $25 to $50 per month.

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How Home Fetal Monitors Work

Home fetal monitors are handheld, battery-operated devices that measure a baby's heart rate. Using them takes just a few quick steps:

  • Apply the recommended lotion or gel to your stomach.
  • Use the device's wand to explore your stomach, tilting at different angles to get results.
  • Listen for the heartbeat.

There are two types of fetal monitors available: acoustic and digital. Acoustic monitors will typically only allow you to hear the heart rate, while digital monitors will display the heart rate on a screen for you to see. They may also allow you to record the baby's heart rate in a digital file, so you can share it with others.

Choosing Fetal Monitors

When it comes to choosing your prenatal monitor, you'll want to do plenty of brand and product research and seek advice from medical professionals to find the device that's right for you. Many people find these monitors to produce mixed results in detecting fetal movement and heart rate, but some units are known to work better than others.

Of the many brands out there, the Hewlett Packard 1350 fetal monitor has received positive reviews, as has the Doppler fetal monitor brand (both have received far more favorable reviews than the Bebesounds prenatal monitor, for example). The Doppler fetal monitor (also known simply as a fetal Doppler) is considered the leading digital fetal monitor and comes with an electronic fetal stethoscope that allows for multiple people to hear the output, rather than just the user. Though there is some debate as to whether electronic monitors are as accurate as acoustic models, this may be a feature you want to look for.