Know the Pattern of Your Baby Heart Rate During Pregnancy

The heart is among the earliest developing organs in your growing baby. It is an experience of a lifetime to hear that tiny heartbeat for the first time during pregnancy. The baby's heart rate during pregnancy may change from time to time and offers information about his or her overall health. 

Baby's Heart Rate During Pregnancy

Your doctor will check your baby's heart rate. During pregnancy, it is possible for you to feel the heartbeat yourself – and you can measure it too. It certainly feels great to hear the heartbeat, but it is natural to worry about your baby's health when you notice low or high fetal heart rate (FHR). Here is a chart to help you understand more about baby heart rate during pregnancy:

Size/Age of the Fetus

Normal Fetal Heart Rate/Beats per Minute (BPM)

2 mm embryo with gestational size diameter of 20 mm

75

5 mm embryo with gestation sac size of 30 mm

100

10 mm embryo

120

15 mm

130

Week 5

80 to 103

Week 6

103 to 126

Week 7

126 to 149

Week 8

149 to 172

Week 9

155 to 195, with average of 175

Week 12

120 to 180, with average of 150

After week 12

120 to 160, with average of 140

How audible the heartbeat usually depends on the position of your baby as well as the nature of your abdominal tissues. Generally speaking, a fetal heart rate between 100 and 160 is considered normal, and a normal heartbeat lowers chances of miscarriage.

Can Your Baby's Heart Rate Predict the Gender?

No, it is not possible to check your baby's heartbeat to predict the gender. Some women say that it is a boy if the heart rate is over 140 bpm and it is a girl if the heart rate is below 140 bpm. This is among many old wives' tales associated with pregnancy.

Your baby's heart starts beating when you enter 6th week of your pregnancy. You can even see that heart beating on an ultrasound. The heart rate may start as low as 90 bpm and may continue to increase until week 9 and be around 155-195 bpm. This is the same for both boys and girls.

How Is the Baby Heart Rate During Pregnancy Monitored?

Your healthcare provider may check FHR later in your pregnancy or even during labor. The heartbeat may change when conditions in the uterus change. One of these two methods may be used to monitor your baby's heart rate.

  • External Fetal Heart Monitoring: The procedure involves using a device called Doppler ultrasound to listen to the heartbeat of your baby through your belly. Your doctor may use the device during prenatal visits to ensure that your baby is growing healthily.
  • Internal Fetal Heart Monitoring: The procedure involves putting a transducer on your baby's scalp during labor to monitor heart rate. A wire, which runs through the mother's cervix, is connected to a monitor and helps measure your baby's heartbeat. It is usually a more accurate way of fetal heart monitoring because movement does not affect it.

What Happens If the Fetal Heart Rate Pattern Is Abnormal?

You should not panic when you notice that baby heart rate during pregnancy is abnormal. This does not always indicate a problem. Your doctor may order other tests to confirm exactly what is happening.

If your doctor notices any abnormal pattern, he or she may first take steps to provide your baby with more oxygen. You can do it simply by changing your position. This alone helps resolve the issue in most cases. If the problem persists, they may order other tests to make a proper diagnosis. An early delivery is possible in case your baby really has a problem. 

How to Keep Baby's Heart Healthy

By monitoring baby heart rate during pregnancy, it is possible to tell a lot about its overall health. So many things can affect your baby's heart rate, and most of those things are out of your control, such as genetic or chromosomal abnormalities. Still, you can take certain steps to help keep your baby's ticker healthy. For instance:

  • Take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy to lower risk of congenital heart disease in your baby.
  • Quit smoking as soon as possible because research shows that maternal smoking early on in pregnancy accounts for 2% of all heart problems in babies, including anomalies of the vessels and valve.
  • Work with your doctor to control your diabetes during pregnancy. You can develop gestational diabetes that requires certain steps to control blood sugar levels. Uncontrolled blood sugar increases risk of heart defects in your baby.
  • Stop using Accutane to treat your acne because it can lead to fetal heart problems.
  • Stay away from alcohol and drugs while pregnant.

What's more, you should consider eating more heart-healthy foods, and stay away from unhealthy and processed foods. Ensure that less than 30% of your total caloric value comes from fat. Moreover, you should also take steps to control your sodium and cholesterol intake – consume less than 3,000 mg of sodium and 300 mg of cholesterol a day. 

 
 
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