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Smartphone enabled fetal doppler – allows mums and their family and friends to hear baby's heartbeat for bonding with baby.
Bryan Beattie – 27th December 2016
It’s one of the most reassuring noises for any expectant mum.
And a new smart phone app championed by a leading Welsh obstetrician means women can now hear their baby’s heartbeat with the help of their mobile phone throughout their pregnancy.
Dr Bryan Beattie, a consultant in fetal medicine in Cardiff, says the Unborn Heart app gives anxious mums peace of mind by being able to check their baby’s heartbeat with a doppler anytime of the day or night at home.
By sending the recordings from their phones directly to him, he can then assess that all is well in the pregnancy.
Tina Boulcott, from Herbrandston, near Milford Haven, says it’s proved a real help during her pregnancy, which has been blighted by hyperemesis (severe sickness).
The 36-year-old, who had two IVF attempts before this successful pregnancy, said: “I’ve been using it for about four or five weeks and it’s going really well. It’s quite new to the UK. I’m a bit of a guinea pig but also a bit of a geek really so it appeals to me.
“I’m 22 weeks pregnant with my third baby but my older children are 18 and 15 and I’ve been much more anxious about this pregnancy, which hasn’t been helped by the fact I’ve had terrible sickness.
“I have to travel to Cardiff for private treatment with Bryan and this has given me peace of mind that all is OK when I’m back at home. It’s not a replacement for antenatal care but does reassure you when you are at home.
“I was a bit sceptical at first but it’s going really well. I can imagine you could get quite obsessed with checking the baby’s heartbeat, but I tend to use it twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed, just to check that everything is OK.”
Tina, a dental nurse, says it is really easy to use, as long as it’s not too early into the pregnancy as the heartbeat is much more difficult to find.
“You just have a tube of gel and then use the doppler to locate the baby’s heartbeat. It can take a while sometimes but once you hear that galloping noise, you are reassured that all is OK.
“The heartbeat is recorded and then I send the results to Bryan, who checks that all is OK on his computer. I’m really grateful for a gadget like this as it has really helped me worry less and I’ve been able to track my prenatal care. It’s so small, only the size of a credit card so you can pop it in your bag and take it anywhere.”
Dr Beattie, director of private medical clinic Innermost Healthcare, says the app represents the future of antenatal care in Wales and, along with another device Bellabeat, will be working with stillbirth charities Star Legacy Foundation and Count the Kicks to evaluate this technology as a source of extra reassurance for those who have previously lost a baby.
“This is peace of mind in the palm of your hand 24/7,” he said. “It allows you to hear and visualise the unborn baby’s heartbeat and I think this is part of the future of pregnancy care.”
The devices cost £40-£60, with the Bellabeat having a kick counter, heart monitor and blood pressure checker.
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