The Fetal Heart Rate – What It Can Indicate?

One of the most incredibly moving experiences for a mother to be is the first time she hears the sound of the heart beat of her unborn baby, which is typically when she goes to have an ultra sound performed or hears the tiny heart beat on the Doppler fetal monitor.

Many of the women move to tears at that first sight and sound of her baby and naturally the fetal heart rate is a subject in which any mother will have keen interest.

fetal heart rateThere are several well established expectations about the fetal heart rate that the attending doctor or ultrasound technician will be watching out for, which will reassure the mother that all is well with the development of her child:

  • The fetal heart rate starts at about 5 week’s gestation, when the baby’s heart first starts to beat. At this time the fetal heart rate is about 80 beats per minute. This is more or less the same as the rate at which the mother’s heart is beating.
  • After this for the next 5 weeks, the fetal heart rate continues steadily to increase at the rate of 3.3 heart beats a day. So by the end of the 6th week the heart rate will be 126 beats a minute. When you are 7 weeks pregnant, it will be 149. By the end of the 8th week it will be 172 beats a minute and by the end of the 9th week it can have reached as high as 195 beats per minute.
  • By week 12 the fetal heart rate will be in the region of 120 to 160 beats a minute.

For some time it was believed that there was a correlation between the fetal heart rate and the sex of the baby, however no such link or relationship has been established, so the fetal heart rate cannot be used to predict the gender of the child.

Many mothers seek the reassurance of a Doppler at home to reassure themselves that all is well with their baby even in-between visits to the ultrasound clinic.

There are such home fetal heart beat monitoring devices available on the market, however some are not as effective as one may wish.

A poor quality one or inappropriately used one may end up causing the mother to be needless anxiety so in some cases a home fetal heart rate monitor can actually be counterproductive.


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