The World of Pregnancy

When Does A Baby`s Heart Begin To Beat?

When does a baby`s heart begin to beat? Here`s a question for which most mothers are curious of finding an answer.

When Does A Baby`s Heart Begin To Beat

The first beats of the fetal heart represents the first moment that is truly exciting during pregnancy. Then you really realize that life is growing in your belly, and this moment marks you. Here are a few things that you need to know about the first fetal heartbeats.

The fetus`s heart is among the first organs of an embryo that develops, along with the the neural tube and brain.

When Does a Baby`s Heart Begin to Beat?

The embryonic heart starts to beat 22 days after conception, meaning at about the week 5 of pregnancy. During this stage, the little heart is much too small to be heard, even with a volume amplifier.

One of the first symptoms that a heart starts to beat can sometimes be noticed by ultrasound during the first 4 weeks of pregnancy. It can be noticed at a very close look that there`s a little trembling at the embryo level. This is the developing heart of the future baby which already started to beat.

How Does a Baby`s Heart Develops?

Experts claim that due to the rapid growth of the embryo, a more complex nutrient transport system is required than simple intercellular diffusion. Thus, the development of the heart and circulatory system is an important step.

An human adult`s heart is about the size of his fist and growths along with the fist`s size. The heart develops from specialized cells that become a cardiac tube. Subsequently, certain areas of the heart start to develop more than others.

The formation of a baby`s heart starts by a simple tube, which over the next few weeks will turn into a heart with atria and ventricles. First, the 2 formed atria are partially split, but there`s only 1 large ventricle. The following stage starts when the 2 atria are completed separated and the ventricles also begin to separate. Eventually, the ventricles separate from each other completely and the heart is in its final form.

During its stages of development, the heart resembles with the one of other species: when it`s a simple tube, it resembles to the one of a fish. In the stage when the heart is bicameral, it resembles to the heart of a frog. Later, when it becomes tricameral, it`s similar to the heart of a snake. Only in the final stage, when it has 4 chambers, it can be distinguished as a human heart.

Are Early Ultrasounds Safe?

Benefiting of an early ultrasound usually very much depends on the health care provider, the evolution of your pregnancy and your own medical history. A lot of women do not see their obstetrician until 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, while some maternity care providers choose to wait even until 13 weeks of pregnancy, when the first trimester will be over. – Read this online web page!

Although an early ultrasound is able of detecting the fetal heartbeats, it is not really necessary for a pregnancy which has a healthy development.  If you have any concerns about the conception date, a health care provider may device for an early ultrasound so your pregnancy can be dated. If you experience various signs like spotting or vaginal bleeding, or feel serious pain, an ultrasound examination may be performed so the location and viability of the pregnancy can be checked (for instance, ectopic pregnancy).

The Doppler Device that Hears Heartbeats

After 9 or 10weeks from the last menstruation, you`ll be able to hear the baby`s heartbeats at your prenatal consultation.

The obstetrician who follows your pregnancy probably uses the Doppler device, which sends harmless sound waves to the fetus`s heart. The way the sound returns is affected by motion, so the beating heart changes the sound in a way that can be detected by the Doppler device.

The fact that you hear or not the heartbeats at 9 – 10 weeks of pregnancy, partially depends on luck, as the instruments should be placed at the right angle. Also, the success depends on the position of the uterus`s and whether or not you are skinner or fatter. However, at 12 weeks of pregnancy, the heartbeats can be heard without any issues with this device.

Measuring the Baby`s Pulse

To measure the baby`s pulse, the doctor will count the heartbeats for a minute, or will count them for 15 seconds and multiply them by 4.

Some instruments eliminate the need to count by displaying the pulse directly on the monitor. And some doctors are so used to the normal pulse that it`s enough to carefully listen the pulse and establish whether or not is slow or fast. – Read this!

Sometimes, the Doppler device receives the sounds of the mother (for example, from the placenta) and confuse them with the baby`s heartbeats. The normal pulse of the mother is under 100, and that of the baby should be over 120, so it should sound differently. If there are unclear things, the doctor may take the mother pulse and establish if it`s the same thing with what he hears with the Doppler device.

Interpreting the Fetal Pulse

A normal fetal pulse usually has the value of 120 to 160 beats per minute. Although there are many rumors, the truth is that there`s no difference between the pulse of a boy and that of a girl, so the fact that the baby`s heart beats slower or faster won`t help you chose the color of the baby`s room or what clothes to buy.

The fact that the heartbeats are heard more or less clearly, again, has no significance. The sound is related only to adjusting the volume of the Doppler device, as well as the distance and angle that the heart has with the device. So, don`t worry if you hear the heartbeats somehow too far or too low.

Listening the Fetal Heartbeats in your own Home

If you don`t have the necessary medical training to allow you recognize the fetal pulse, it`s very hard. Still, there are small devices that can be purchased to be used for such purposes, similar to the Doppler device, which allow you to listen your baby`s heartbeats.

Doctors don`t recommend to pregnant women to try this at home due to several reasons:

  • They can scare easily if they don`t localize the heartbeats properly, thinking something is wrong.
  • They might panic if they hear heartbeats at a faster rate (although the fetus has a more rapid pulse than the one of the mother).
  • It`s possible for the device to detect the mother`s heartbeats, which are slower; this might make them concern thinking it`s the pulse of the baby. – Check this link!

If you are careful not to be scared with any confusing little sign that the device transmits, there`s no reason for which you cannot enjoy these unique moments in the comfort of your own home.

Common Problems in the Development of the Baby`s Heart

Fortunately, heart defects are pretty rare, but around 8 out of 1.000 babies are born with heart malformations. These cardiac abnormalities include:

  • Incomplete development.
  • Defective development.
  • Malposition.
  • Abnormal functioning of blood vessels.
  • Movement of cardiac structures during development.

As a measure of prevention, doctors recommend pregnant women to take their prenatal vitamins, don`t smoke and don`t consume alcohol or drugs.

Image courtesy of MyBabysBeat.com
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