Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tay's Tips for Pregnancy #23: Buy a Cheap Stethoscope...
Early on in Betsy's pregnancy I would try to listen to our baby using a cheap ($20) stethoscope I have at home. It's a chinese copy of a Rappaport-Sprague--the sort with the diaphragm on one side and a bell on the other. I couldn't hear anything. On our first trip to the OB, they could easily pick it up with a Doppler Fetoscope. On our first trip to the Midwife, she was able to detect the heartbeat with a combination of an Allen Type Fetal Stethoscope and a finely tuned diagnostic ear. I thought I might have barely been able to hear our little guy's heart, but couldn't be certain.
On our last trip (Betsy at 29 weeks) I could faintly hear the baby's heart beat using the midwife's Allen Stethoscope, but Betsy couldn't. Now, at this point I had given up trying to hear the heartbeat with my chinese knock-off general-practice stethoscope. I figured, sure, you can hear it with a $150 specialized instrument placed in the right position by an expert, but what chance do I have at home.
So then this evening, on a whim, I took the stethoscope out of the drawer and put the bell-side to Betsy's belly in approximately the location where the midwife had (thus assuming that our little guy was in more or less the same position) . "Thump, thump, thump..." There he was! I didn't even believe it at first, so I listened to Betsy's heart and noted that it was going at around 60 beats a minute. But when I timed the belly-thumping it was a steady 125 BPM! I passed the headset to Betsy and she could hear him, too! How cool is that?
Actually, Betsy is a little underwhelmed. Our son has been busy kicking and rearranging her insides all day, so the novelty of "he's really in there" has worn off. But for me, this is really amazing.
Now, I'm aware that there are electronic gadgets on the market that promise to make it possible to hear the heartbeat and even record it. But there is something about an old-fashioned acoustic stethoscope that feels much more visceral and real. Trust me, guys, buy a cheap stethoscope and give a listen around week 30! I'm looking at you, Bob!