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Get with the beat!
Hi Bebe BT200 Fetal Doppler
Member Name: ButterBear
Hi Bebe BT200 Fetal Doppler
Advantages: Can provide reassurance to a concerned mum to be.
Disadvantages: May cause you to worry if you can't pick up a beat. Will not prevent a miscarriage.
2 years after a successful first pregnancy resulting in my, now 4 year old son, I was delighted to discover I was pregnant again, the husband and I had been thinking about trying again with the hopes of a little brother or sister for Christopher, however only weeks into the pregnancy I suffered a miscarriage and was naturally heartbroken, so much so it's something I still don't really talk about despite all the time that has passed and the 2 wonderful babies I've gone on to have since. Determined not to let the loss beat us we decided to try again as soon as was safe for me and only months later we were lucky enough to fall pregnant with our daughter, the memory of the loss still plagued me though and I constantly worried that something would go wrong with this pregnancy too, on suffering a bout of bleeding I visited the doctor but she offered little reassurance and refused to listen in for a heartbeat despite me being far enough along (10 weeks) to pick one up, I decided to take the matter into my own hands, if my doctor wouldn't set my mind at rest then I would do something about it, I couldn't cope with the worry and not knowing. I'd heard a lot on parenting websites about fetal monitors and decided to see if I would be able to purchase one myself, to my surprise many online sites including Ebay were selling them and I didn't hesitate in making a purchase.
The Hi-bebe fetal Doppler (or "monitor") comes in several different versions mine being the rt200, it's not as advanced as some models you can buy and lacks the LCD screen feature that many of them have but it provided the basic function of being able to listen for the heartbeat which is all I wanted. The monitor is made up of a handheld speaker device which features a volume control wheel and a headphone jack, the battery compartment is on the back of the speaker unit (AA batteries are supplied) and the 2mhz "probe" which is used to listen to the heartbeat by moving it over the abdomen, is attached by a spiralled cable, the monitor also comes complete with instructions and a small tube of ultrasound gel. Hi-bebe monitors are medical standard and are FDA approved, suitable for use by Midwives, Physicians and pregnant women, the monitors can detect noises from the womb including the mother and baby heartbeats, noise from the placenta and even the sounds of baby kicking.
I was 11 weeks pregnant when my monitor arrived and the instructions advised that most heartbeats could be picked up from around 10 weeks, I'd been lucky enough with Christopher to hear his heartbeat at 8 weeks so had a good idea that I'd be able to pick up the babies heartbeat straight away. I found that it was best to lie flat in order to search for the beat properly and having applied a small amount of the ultrasound gel to the tip of the probe began to move it over my abdomen. The instructions give you directions as to where to apply the probe and how to search for the heartbeat and what to look out for while you are listening. At first I couldn't find the babies heartbeat, I could hear my own and when I moved the probe over the left hand side of my body I could hear "whooshing" sounds which came from my placenta, I didn't panic knowing that it could be too early to pick up the beat and decided to leave the search for the time being, I wasn't panicking at that point but might have done if I'd continued searching and still not found anything.
It was only a few days before I tried the search again, I started listening on the left hand side again knowing I was likely to pick up some of the baby's noise even if it wasn't the heartbeat and then content with finding the "whooshing" again began to move the probe around a bit more in search of the heartbeat, to my surprise it wasn't long before I started to hear a faint beat, faster than my own heartbeat and almost like the chugging of a train (I've heard that heartbeats can also sound like galloping horses) I couldn't help but smile, it had to be my baby, I was positive that for now all was well. Of course it's easy to be overcome by worry when something so precious is at stake and when you've suffered so much pain before, having invested in the monitor I was going to use it in order to put my mind at rest.
There is actually no scientific proof that using monitors is harmful in a pregnancy however there is much debate over the issue and so I used my HI-bebe with some caution, I would only allow myself to use it once a week and only for a few minutes at a time, just long enough to hear the heartbeat satisfactorily, only in moments of extreme panic or anxiety would I allow myself to use the monitor more often. I would never say that every pregnant woman should rush out and buy one of these, they aren't toys to be used just because you want to listen to your baby or because you want others to be able to hear, the effects of overuse aren't really known and you could cause yourself more panic if you weren't able to pick up a heartbeat in the early weeks, while I was lucky to be able to pick up heartbeats from 8 weeks some women wont pick up the beat until past 14 weeks. Yet if, like me, someone had suffered a loss and was extremely anxious over a future pregnancy I would certainly say give it a go, the peace of mind I got from using the monitor could not be matched by anything else. I used the monitor less in the middle months of the pregnancy as I began to grow more confident that all was well and at 20 weeks when I was starting to feel regular movements I stopped using it altogether, keeping it close by should I have any concerns that the baby's movements had changed or slowed down in a day.
I paid £69.99 for my monitor via an approved store on Ebay, which may seem like an awful lot of money if it gets used as rarely as once a week, however I have used it through my last 2 pregnancies in times of worry or when I had cause to believe there may be a problem and have been relieved to hear the heartbeat was still present, in the least it gives you hope that if there is a problem then something can be done about it before it gets worse, following any major concerns e.g. bleeding, and having listened for the heartbeat I would always contact the midwife just to get myself and the baby checked out, but hearing the heartbeat was calming enough to get me there in one piece instead of turning up a quivering wreck, however my weekly "reassurance listen" was enough to set my mind at ease for the time being and didn't warrant a midwife visit. Had I not have heard the heartbeat at any point I would have refrained from panic as I had the first time I used the monitor, many things can effect how well you pick up a heartbeat including the baby's position, a cold fizzy drink will usually encourage a baby to move position, if I'd not picked up the beat again after the fizz then I would have called the midwife with my concerns.
The batteries have lasted really well, no doubt down to my restricted use of the monitor, and I've not had to replace them yet despite having them for over 2 years now, the gel has also lasted well as I used it sparingly, the clear jelly like substance, which is odourless, is exactly the same as would be used by a doctor or midwife and is usually quite cold on a warm belly! I've never had any skin reactions to the gel. You can get quite a good level of volume from the monitor so if you've picked up the beat but only quietly there's no need to move the probe and hope you don't lose the beat, instead you can just turn the machine up and hear the heartbeat much better, this is controlled by simply rolling the volume wheel on the side of the monitor. Fitting easily into your hand the main speaker unit of the monitor is lightweight, the overall monitor being very easy to use.
You do not need a doctors approval to use one of these monitors and don't even need to tell your care provider you're using one. I have heard of some midwives disapproving of the use of these at home but this is in regards to when a woman is unable to find a beat in the early stages, their concern is that your panic could be made worse. If you want to use one but are worried you can always seek the opinion of your doctor or midwife first.
I know a lot of people reading will believe this a waste of money, why bother spending money on something like this if you're only going to contact the midwife anyway? And why not just head straight for the doctors? well it's not always easy to get an appointment, you may not be able to physically get there at the time or it could be a simple case of not wanting to be a nuisance, that may seem silly but it's quite common for a pregnant woman not to want to bother people with her constant worries. I can only speak from my own experience and say that the peace of mind I had from knowing I could use the monitor, whenever I was worried, just to reassure myself was worth all the money in the world, granted if there had been a problem there is a chance that nothing could be done and I would lose the pregnancy anyway but I would have given myself the best chance by picking up the problem early, plus I managed to get through the 2 pregnancies as stress free as possible (well as far as heartbeats are concerned) which is always more beneficial for the growing baby.
Fortunately despite my problems both my pregnancies since the loss have resulted in healthy wonderful babies, for which I count myself very lucky. I will hang onto the monitor just in case we decide on more children, if we don't then it'll be one of the first things I offer my sisters when they fall pregnant, if they can get even an ounce of the peace of mind I found using the monitor then it would have been a success for them too and I'll be one very happy aunty-to-be.
* Ultrasound Frequency: 2MHz
* Ultrasound Intensity : <10mW/㎠
* Speaker Output Power : 1.2W(Built-in Loudspeaker)
* Power : 1.5V Battery X 2 (Type:AA)
* Sensitivity : 10~12 Weeks Onward
* PC Interface : Sound Card
* Battery Life : 360 minutes
For more on Hi-bebe monitors visit- http://www.hibebe.org/faq.html
Caution- Do not use one of these monitors for self diagnoses unless you intend to follow up any problems with a medical professional. Pregnant women are advised to be under the care of a midwife or other care provider during pregnancy and for at least 6 weeks following birth and it is important to seek their advice should you have any complications.
Summary: A device that provided me peace of mind but should be used with care.
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