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RCOG advises against the use of fetal home dopplers

News 22 January 2020

The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have published updated guidance on the use of fetal home dopplers, a hand-held ultrasound device that uses soundwaves to listen to a fetal heartbeat.

Dr Pat O’Brien, Consultant Obstetrician and Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: 

 “The RCOG strongly discourages the use of fetal home Dopplers. These devices can cause significant anxiety among women who are pregnant, particularly if they are not able to hear their baby’s heartbeat and therefore understandably worry until they can see their doctor or midwife. 

 “Women may be falsely reassured as hearing a heartbeat is not necessarily an indication that all is well with the baby. Women who use Dopplers themselves may easily mistake their own heartbeat for their baby’s. 

“We recommend that women monitor their baby’s movements during pregnancy as a reduction or pattern change in movement can indicate that the baby is unwell.

“In this situation, we advise women should go into hospital where, depending on how far the pregnancy is, a midwife will usually monitor the baby’s heartbeat for half an hour or so - known as a CTG. It is the pattern of change of the heart rate over that time that can check if baby is well”. 


Note to Editors

NHS UK on your baby’s movements