When Can You Hear A Baby’s Heartbeat With A Stethoscope?

As a pregnant woman, the joy of hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time will be something that you will be eager to experience. So, when can you listen to a baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope?

listen to a baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope

Listening to the foetal heartbeat using a stethoscope is not only possible but is also recommended by doctors if you are an anxious expectant mother so that you can gauge the health of your baby.

The good thing about using a stethoscope is that you don’t have to wait to see the doctor in order for you to hear your baby’s heartbeat; you can do it at home by yourself. All you need to do is get yourself a stethoscope.


Foetal heart starts to develop by the third week and by the fifth week it begins to beat and can be seen as a tiny flicker from the vaginal ultrasound. By the end of week 10, the heart is fully formed and is beating normally. However, hearing your baby’s heartbeat using a stethoscope will not be possible before the 20th week. This is because, before the 20th week, the pulse generated by the heartbeat is too small to be audible.

However, if you can’t wait up to the 20th week to listen to your baby’s heartbeat, you can use a foetal Doppler as early as the 12th week to listen to your baby’s heartbeat during your prenatal visits. A foetal Doppler is an ultrasound machine that is specially designed to direct sound waves towards a baby’s heart and then uses the reflected sound to detect the sound made by the baby’s heart.


If you would like to hear your baby’s heartbeat as early as the 12th week at home without going to the doctor’s office, then you can purchase a foetal Doppler.

Other ways you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat at home

Pinard Horn

Pinard Horn

(Via Nurseoclock.com)

They are a precursor to the stethoscope. They are carved and are made of wood. It works by placing one of its ends on the belly and the other on the ear. Its main drawback is that you cannot use it on your own since you’ll need someone to do the listening. Your partner will surely enjoy doing that.



It’s a combination of the stethoscope and the Pinard Horn. However, instead of going through the ear, the listening end is placed against your forehead. You will get to feel and hear the baby’s heartbeat since your bones will amplify the baby’s heartbeat.

Using a stethoscope to listen to your baby’s heartbeat

If you are on your 20th week of pregnancy or even past it, it’s now time to purchase a stethoscope. The type of stethoscope doesn’t matter as any can do, even the cheapest ones. However, if you feel like buying a more expensive one, then go ahead since they are more accurate than the cheaper ones. Here is how you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat:

  • Relax in a quiet room: Try to relax by lying down in a quiet room so that you can separate yourself from the noisy outside world since noise may make it hard to hear the heart.
  • Find your baby’s back: Listening for a heartbeat from a baby’s chest may be difficult hence you will need to find her back. It’s easier to listen from the baby’s back since it is the part that is most likely to be pressed up against your belly.
  • Put on the stethoscope: Once you have located the baby’s back, put the listening device comfortably against your belly. Press it gently on the point where you have located the baby’s back and hold it still as you listen to make sure that you are not listening to ambient noises.
  • Listen carefully: You should be careful to differentiate between your heartbeat and that of your baby. If you hear a slow but steady heartbeat, then that could be yours. The baby’s heartbeat should be quick.

What could it mean if you can’t hear your baby’s heartbeat using a stethoscope?

Now that you have a clear idea of when you can hear your baby’s heartbeat using the stethoscope, you have set out to have that wonderful experience, but to your disappointment, you hear nothing. You are wondering, “What could this mean?” Here are some reasons why your baby’s heartbeat may not have been detected.

  • Your dates are all wrong: In trying to pinpoint the date that you conceived, your calculations may have settled on a wrong date. Since a lot of growth and development occur with every passing week, any slight error on your dates even by a week will mean that you won’t feel your baby’s heartbeat when you think you should.
  • Your uterus is tilted: Your baby’s heart may be far away from your belly if your uterus is tilted making it hard for the heartbeat to be detected by a stethoscope.
  • Your baby is turned in the uterus: How your baby is positioned in your uterus also determines how easily the heartbeat can be detected.
  • You have a lot of fat: Too much baby fat can interfere with the foetal heartbeat detection. The subcutaneous fat that will be found in your belly area may act as a soundproof. However, as the baby gets bigger, the heartbeat will become stronger to be detected.
  • There might be a miscarriage: This is the reason why some expectant mothers may get worried when they are unable to hear the baby’s heartbeat. They have a reason to get worried since the lack of a heartbeat may be an indicator of a miscarriage, according to doctors. If you can’t hear a heartbeat, seek your doctor’s help so that he or she can conduct an ultrasound on you.


The moment you get to hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time is an exhilarating one. You get to connect with your baby emotionally since it’s the first time you will get to be sure that someone is actually alive inside you and is doing fine.

However, if you fail to hear any heartbeats, the best thing to do is to seek your doctor’s attention because it may or may not be a sign that something is not okay. You can watch this video to see how you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat using a stethoscope.

Kristi Cathey

Hi everyone! My name is Kristi Cathey and I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I am a mother of 3 beautiful angels. This blog was created in order to share my personal experiences in baby care and general health care for pregnant women. If you'd like to get in touch with me, please contact me by sending me an email via kristicathey.intelligentmother@gmail.com. Welcome to Intelligentmother.com

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