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How to Hear a Baby's Heartbeat in the First Trimester

By Kristin Davis ; Updated June 13, 2017

The first time you hear your baby's heartbeat you may feel joy, happiness and excitement. It may not sound exactly like what you're used to hearing, as your baby's heartbeat is much faster than an adult heartbeat. Some describe a baby's heartbeat as a galloping horse because it is so strong and, depending upon the device used to hear it, the sound may be loud. Others may describe it as a whooshing sound, similar to what a seashell would sound like when you press a seashell up to your ear. However, it may be hard to hear your baby's heartbeat, especially when your pregnancy is less than 12 weeks along.

  1. Rent or purchase a Doppler. A Doppler is a device that physicians use to hear your baby's heartbeat. You can purchase similar Doppler-like devices at retail stores or stores that specialize in selling baby supplies. Depending upon the device you purchase, it may come with headphones for listening to your baby's heartbeat or play the sound on a radio-like instrument.

  2. Lie down on a flat surface. You can lie on a bed, couch or the floor. Choose whichever is most comfortable for you, but make sure your back doesn't sink into the mattress or couch. When your back sinks into the surface, you may not be able to hear your baby's heartbeat as well as you normally would if your abdomen were in an upright position.

  3. Lift your shirt above your abdomen but below your breasts. You can even tuck your shirt under your bra to help hold your shirt above your abdomen. It will be easier to hear your baby's heartbeat if nothing can obstruct the sound.

  4. Press the Doppler onto your abdomen. You may not find your baby's heartbeat at first, but do not be alarmed. During your first trimester of pregnancy, your baby has plenty of room to move and float freely about. It may take several attempts before you pinpoint his heartbeat. You may also need to adjust the volume on the device to make sure the sound is all the way up so that you can hear your baby's heartbeat easily.

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