Should You Use a Doppler During Pregnancy or Labor?

When women plan to give birth unassisted, they tend to do a lot of research. Many of them know either through experience or through extensive reading what regular prenatal care entails. Therefore, they may stumble over the use of Dopplers. Instead of fetal monitoring, many midwives utilize a Doppler at prenatal appointments and intermittently during labor to assess the heart rate of your baby. The question is, should we copy this practice and do it ourselves?

Doppler Use Poses Risks

As with everything else in life, the use of Dopplers doesn’t come without risks. Dopplers use ultrasound techniques. If you’re already aware of what ultrasound waves can do to your baby, then you might not even want to consider using a Doppler. The problem with ultrasound and Dopplers is that there aren’t any known side effects to date.

That being said, using ultrasound on an unborn fetus is not going to go unnoticed. According to an article from the FDA “when ultrasound enters the body, it heats the tissues slightly. In some cases, it can also produce small pockets of gas in body fluids or tissues.”

The Risk of Overuse

When Dopplers or ultrasounds are used by non-medical personnel, there is a risk of overuse. While it can be fun to hear the heartbeat of your baby during pregnancy, it’s not worth the risk without a potential benefit. And you don’t really want to put your baby at risk unnecessarily, do you?

Assessing Baby’s Well-Being

That being said, there is certainly a use for both Dopplers and ultrasound machines. You may want to check your baby’s heart rate to make sure that he is doing okay. This can be done without the use of ultrasound techniques by using a stethoscope. The problem with stethoscopes is that they’re not as easy to use. It can actually be hard to distinguish the heartbeat for an untrained ear.

Your options are to skip the monitoring altogether, use a stethoscope, or utilize a Doppler. Many women who give birth unassisted choose to forgo monitoring of any kind, because giving birth vaginally is least likely to cause complications for your baby. However, if you’d rather keep track of the heart rate, then using a Doppler might be worth it for peace of mind.

Do Your Research

In the end, it’s important not to overuse Dopplers or ultrasounds. In order to make the decision that’s right for you, you’ll need to do your own research. You can read what the FDA has to say here. I have also written a blog post about ultrasound you might like to read.