When Can You Hear a Baby's Heartbeat?

If you cannot wait to hear baby's heartbeat, don't fret: It won't take long. Here's everything you need to know about your little one's little organ.

Pregnant woman having fetal ultrasound
Photo: Lighthunter/Shutterstock

If you've just received a positive pregnancy test, you probably have a lot of questions. From "when will I feel my baby kicking" to "when does morning sickness end," you (likely) have a lot on your mind. But if you're wondering when you'll hear baby's heartbeat, fear not: The answer may be sooner than you think. In fact, the "whoosh whoosh" of your little one's little organ is one of the first things doctors look (and listen) for. A fetal heartbeat may first be detected by a vaginal ultrasound as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks.

Here's everything you need to know about your baby's heartbeat, from how it's monitored to when you can hear it.

When Does Baby Have a Heartbeat?

Your baby's heart starts beating approximately 22 days after conception. It won't be detectable yet—even though it's beating an average of 110 times a minute. But thanks to ultrasound technology, you (and your doctor) should be able to hear baby's heartbeat soon.

When Can You Hear Baby's Heartbeat?

The earliest you'd be able to spot it onscreen is five weeks after your last period, although many expectant parents don't see the doctor until they're a bit farther along in their pregnancies. Your baby is so teeny that it may be hard to ID during your first ultrasound, but the heartbeat will look like a very fast flicker.

If you don't see one at your first visit, don't panic. It could still be too early, especially if your doctor miscalculated how far along you are (which can happen if you have longer-than-normal menstrual cycles).

How Is Baby's Heartbeat Monitored?

There are numerous ways to detect and/or monitor baby's heartbeat. Early on, most doctors use transvaginal ultrasounds. These wand-like instruments do an internal scan of your organs, including your uterus—or womb. As your pregnancy progresses, doctors tend to use fetal Dopplers, as these handheld devices can detect your baby's heartbeat as early as 8 weeks. Regular ultrasounds may also be used.

Can You Hear Baby's Heartbeat With a Stethoscope?

The short answer is yes. Since stethoscopes amplify internal noises, specifically for and of the heart and lungs, you can hear baby's heartbeat using a stethoscope. However, detecting baby's heartbeat using the method is more challenging than with a fetal Doppler. It will also take patience and time. Baby's heartbeat cannot be detected with a stethoscope until they are 18 to 20 weeks.

Is There an App to Hear Baby's Heartbeat?

While the best method for measuring baby's heartbeat is a fetal Doppler, apps like My Baby Heartbeat and BabyDoppler can help you monitor, track, and record the sound of your little one's little organ. That said, it's important to note that these apps are not 100% accurate. Do not use any as a replacement for an actual checkup.

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