The charity Kicks Count and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has launched a warning over pregnant women using Doppler machines at home.
Kicks Count and the RCM are concerned that pregnant women using a Doppler machine at home could become stressed if it does not detect a heartbeat, or the machine could be giving false information by picking up the woman’s heartbeat.
Head of Quality Standards at the RCM, Mandy Forrester, said: “The sound heard is not the real heart sound but the machine detecting heart movement, therefore picking up a maternal pulse or blood pumping through placenta could give false reassurance.
“Such reassurance could be dangerous as it may delay a woman in seeking advice from her midwife. Even if the mother has picked up the baby’s heartbeat this is not an indication that the baby is doing well.
Home Doppler machines can be bought for around £30 over the counter, with phone apps also claiming to detect a baby’s heartbeat.
“The best way for a woman to monitor her baby’s wellbeing is to get to know her own baby’s usual pattern of movements and notice if there is any change,” Mandy added.
Kicks Count is highlighting the dangers of Doppler machines by petitioning the UK Government to ban over the counter sales.
So far the petition has received more than 7,000 signatures.
Chief Executive of Kicks Count, Elizabeth Hutton, said: “Midwives and doctors train for many years to interpret what they hear through a Doppler.
“It is a medical device, not an object to be used for entertainment. An untrained pregnant woman does not have the necessary skills to understand what she is hearing.”
In the UK there are approximately 3,600 stillbirths every year, with the UK Government aiming to reduce this figure by 2030.
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