How to Hear Your Baby's Heartbeat Using a Stethoscope

One of the most reassuring sounds a pregnant mother can hear is the steady thumping of her baby's heartbeat. Before 20 weeks of pregnancy, fetal heartbeats are typically monitored by doctors using a heart rate Doppler. While buying or renting an at-home Doppler is possible, it is often too expensive. Thankfully, after 20 weeks a baby's heartbeat can often be heard using a relatively cheap and easy-to-procure stethoscope.

Lie on your back in a quiet space. Background noise will make it more difficult to hear your baby's heartbeat.

Feel your stomach and try to locate your baby's back. This will feel like a smooth hard area. It is the best location to detect a fetal heartbeat.

Place the ear tips of the stethoscope in your ears and the chest piece along your baby's back.

Listen carefully for a few minutes. If you do not hear your baby's heartbeat, try moving the stethoscope up or down on your baby's back. Be aware that you may pick up your own heartbeat as well.


Don't worry if you do not hear your baby's heartbeat right away. How far along your pregnancy is, the baby's position, and the position of your placenta can all affect whether you detect your baby's heartbeat. If you are unsure whether you are hearing your baby's heartbeat or your own, try to time the beats-per-minute. The baby's heart rate will be much faster than your own--between 120 and 160 beats per minute.


If you have any questions or concerns about your baby's heartbeat, contact your doctor.