Ultrasound For Baby Heartbeat

The earliest a fetal heartbeat can be observed is 5 1/2 to 6 weeks after gestation. At this stage, you’ll most likely see a tube-shaped structure called a fetal pole, which is the first visible anatomical sign of an embryo. You may also see a fetal heart rate projected onto the monitor screen — this will be much too fast for anyone to count, but it shows that the heart has started beating! Between 6 1/2 and 7 weeks after your last period, you should be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler.

A fetal heartbeat may first be detected by a vaginal ultrasound as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks after gestation. That’s when a fetal pole, the first visible sign of a developing embryo, can sometimes be seen. But between 6 1/2 to 7 weeks after gestation, a heartbeat can be better assessed.

It’s a wonderful moment when you first see your baby’s heartbeat on ultrasound. A fetal heartbeat may first be detected by a vaginal ultrasound as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks after gestation. That’s when a fetal pole, the first visible sign of a developing embryo, can sometimes be seen…

A fetal heartbeat may first be detected by a vaginal ultrasound as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks after gestation. That’s when a fetal pole, the first visible sign of a developing embryo, can sometimes be seen. But between 6 1/2 to 7 weeks after gestation, a heartbeat can be better assessed. By 8 weeks after conception, electrodes may also be used to record your baby’s heart activity

A fetal heartbeat is first detected by ultrasound as an early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks after conception. This can be easier to see on the later end of that range, however, when the developing embryo is about 7 weeks old.

Can You Feel a Babys Heartbeat In The Womb

Hearing a baby’s heartbeat for the first time is an exciting milestone for new parents-to-be.

fetal heartbeat may first be detected by a vaginal ultrasound as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks after gestation. That’s when a fetal pole, the first visible sign of a developing embryo, can sometimes be seen.

But between 6 1/2 to 7 weeks after gestation, a heartbeat can be better assessed. That’s when your doctor may schedule your first abdominal or vaginal ultrasound to check for signs of a healthy, developing pregnancy.

What to expect during your first ultrasound appointment

After a positive pregnancy test, your doctor may recommend you schedule an early pregnancy ultrasound scan around 7 1/2 to 8 weeks of pregnancy. Some medical practices don’t schedule the first ultrasound until between 11 and 14 weeks.

Your doctor may recommend this scan as early as 6 weeks if you:

  • have a prior medical condition
  • have had a miscarriage
  • had difficulty maintaining a pregnancy in the past

During your first ultrasound appointment, the doctor or ultrasound technician will check for the following:

  • confirm viable pregnancy, and check for non-viable molar or ectopic pregnancy
  • confirm baby’s heartbeat
  • measure baby’s crown-to-rump length, which can help determine gestational age
  • assess abnormal gestation

Baby’s heartrate

Your baby’s heartbeat should be between 90-110 beats per minute (bpm) at 6 to 7 weeks. By the ninth week, your baby’s heartbeat should reach 140-170 bpm.

Why you might not hear baby’s heartbeat

You might not be able to hear a baby’s heartbeat at your first ultrasound. Most commonly, this is because it’s too early in the pregnancy. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

Your doctor may recommend you schedule another ultrasound 1 to 2 weeks later.

Other reasons you might not hear the heartbeat include:

  • having a tipped uterus
  • having a large abdomen
  • being less far along than you thought

If no heartbeat is detected, your doctor will check your fetal measurements. Your health care provider may be concerned if there’s no fetal heartbeat in an embryo with a crown-rump length greater than 5 millimeters.

After week 6, your doctor will also be concerned if there is no gestational sac. Your doctor may request a blood test to confirm the pregnancy, or request you come back a few days later for another ultrasound.

A 1999 longitudinal study of 325 women in the United Kingdom who had a history of miscarriage reported that if a heartbeat is detected at 6 weeks, there’s a 78 percent chance of the pregnancy continuing. At 8 weeks, there’s a 98 percent chance, and it goes up to 99.4 percent after 10 weeks.

What devices are used to hear baby’s heartbeat?

At your first scan, your doctor or an ultrasound technician will use a transvaginal ultrasound, or a 2D or 3D abdominal ultrasound.

The transvaginal ultrasound is used during early pregnancy to get a clear image of an embryo. A 3D ultrasound allows the doctor to better see the width, height, and depth of the fetus and your organs.

Can you hear baby’s heartbeat with the human ear?

Detecting a fetal heartbeat is very difficult, if not impossible, for the human ear.

But some expecting mothers claim they can hear their baby’s heartbeat through their belly. This may be possible in a quiet room likely late during the second or third trimester.

Don’t be concerned if you can’t hear your baby’s heartbeat at home.

If you are worried about your baby’s heartbeat, your safest option is to reach out to your doctor. They can schedule a sonogram to reassure you that your baby’s heartbeat is normal.

Can you use apps to hear baby’s heart beat?

There are now hundreds of apps and devices marketed to expectant parents where you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat at home. But your doctor may warn you against using an at-home device.

The quality of these apps and devices varies greatly. They may give you an inaccurate heartbeat reading and cause unnecessary concern or panic.

Talk to your doctor and ask if they recommend an at-home device. They can tell you if it’s safe to use during your pregnancy.

When Heartbeat Will Start For Baby

While the heart of a fetus is still developing, it may be detectable by ultrasound as early as 6 weeks gestation. Technically, it is not a fetus at this point but an embryo, and the heartbeat is only visible on an ultrasound, not audible this early in pregnancy. 

How the Fetal Heart Develops

The baby’s heart develops from two tubes that join together in the middle to create a chamber with four tubes extending from it. It starts to beat between 5 and 6 weeks gestation and may be detected via ultrasound around this time as well. The heart of the embryo continues to develop over the next several weeks. It is fully formed around 10 weeks gestation.

 How Your Baby Grows in Pregnancy

Seeing a Fetal Heartbeat With Ultrasound

There are two types of ultrasounds that are generally used to visualize a pregnancy: a transvaginal ultrasound, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina to gain proximity to the womb, and an abdominal ultrasound, which is placed on the mother’s abdomen. Both are useful procedures for various circumstances at different points in pregnancy. Transvaginal ultrasounds can see the growing embryo earlier than abdominal ultrasounds can. 

Abdominal ultrasounds are generally very effective after 8 weeks gestation to detect a fetal heartbeat but not before that time. So, if you are having an ultrasound prior to 8 weeks from your last menstrual period, it will most likely be a transvaginal ultrasound.1 

In the early weeks of pregnancy, the fetal heartbeat looks like a rhythmic flickering of light.

What You Can See

Transvaginal ultrasounds produce clear images of the fetus, uterus, and surrounding structures, all of which help doctors confirm pregnancy, establish a pregnancy timeline, and gain insight into the health of the pregnancy.1

In addition, an ultrasound is helpful for:1 

  • Checking the health of your pelvic organs
  • Determining the number of fetuses you are carrying
  • Identifying your risk of miscarriage
  • Pinpointing the location of the pregnancy (normal or ectopic pregnancy)

When Ultrasounds Are Used

Not everyone will have an early pregnancy ultrasound. Whether or not you have one will depend on your doctor’s preference and the particulars of your pregnancy and medical history. For example, if you have experienced vaginal bleeding, a miscarriage in a previous pregnancy, or other circumstances that make you or your healthcare provider more alert to potential problems, you may be referred for an early pregnancy ultrasound.1

You’re more likely to get one in a higher risk pregnancy, such as if you have a chronic medical condition, or when using fertility treatments. Some doctors use ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. Others rely on other diagnostic techniques, such as blood tests.

 What Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound?

If a Heartbeat Can’t Be Detected

A transvaginal or abdominal ultrasound showing no fetal heartbeat means that either the pregnancy is too early along for the heartbeat to be detected (which is possible if gestational age is 7 weeks or earlier), or a pregnancy loss has occurred.2

Sadly, if an ultrasound fails to find a fetal heartbeat after one has previously been seen, the doctor may conclusively diagnose miscarriage. In addition, when there is no heartbeat detected in a pregnancy that is definitely far enough along that the heartbeat should be visible, this also indicates a miscarriage has occurred.2

 Coping With Early Miscarriage

Hearing a Fetal Heartbeat

A stethescope or handheld doppler devices may be used to hear the heartbeat beginning around 8 weeks. However, it may take until 10 to 12 weeks or so to be audible.

A Word From Verywell

Seeing and/or hearing a heartbeat early in pregnancy is a very positive sign that your pregnancy is developing as expected. Know that most likely your pregnancy will progress normally but sometimes complications or pregnancy loss do occur, particularly in the first trimester. So, aim to monitor yourself for signs of miscarriage in the early weeks, and call your health care provider with any questions or concerns. 

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