Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring

Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring


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Normal Fetal Heart Rhythms

Commonly Misinterpretted Sounds

1) Heart rate starts normal, then slows down:

Likely Causes: You may be pressing down too hard or picking up your own heart rate.

Solution: Wait 10 minutes, then take a new reading. Be cognizant of how hard you are pressing down.

2) You hear a "whooshing" sound, such as at the end of the clip below:

Likely Causes: This “whooshing” sound is blood flow in the placenta, which is perfectly normal!

Solution: Reposition the monitor to capture the fetal heart rhythm instead.

3) You hear a loud interfering sound. In the example below, this sound can be heard three times:

Likely Causes: The fetus has “kicked” or “punched” the doppler. This is perfectly normal.

Solution: If the fetal heart rate and rhythm can still be detected, go ahead and use this recording. If the interference is too great, wait 10 minutes and take a new reading.

4) You hear a lengthy interfering sound, followed by a slower heart rate:

Likely Causes: The fetus is moving around, eventually wriggling out of range of the doppler, which then picks up the mother’s heart rate instead.

Solution: Wait 10 minutes (or until the fetus settles down) and take a new reading.

Abnormal Fetal Heart Rhythms

An abnormal fetal heart rhythm is concerning, and may mean that you need to see your obstetrical care provider. Below are some examples of abnormal (irregular) heart rhythms:

Monitoring Instructions

Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring