The use of personal dopplers can cause anxiety and sometimes falsely reassure women.
In response to the updated guidelines from the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on the use of fetal home dopplers, The Royal College of Midwifery (RCM) has reiterated that it does not recommend the use of personal home dopplers while pregnant due to safety concerns.
In 2017, the RCM released its first warning following on from a campaign conducted by the Kicks Count charity which warned of the potential dangers of using Home Doppler machines.
Alongside the campaign, Kicks Count released a petition, with the aim to regulate or ban the sale of home dopplers on the consumer market. They stated that the dopplers where for professional use and could falsely reassure an expectant mother that their baby is ok when it could be in distress.
Women may be falsely reassured.
Zeenath Uddin, Head of Quality and Safety at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “The RCM does not recommend the use of personal doppler machines.
“We have two key concerns: firstly, that women may be falsely reassured by hearing what they think is their baby’s heartbeat when it is actually their own, and secondly that home dopplers can lead to unnecessary stress for women when they are unable to find a heartbeat using the doppler themselves.
“We would advise that where a woman is concerned that her baby has been less active than usual or has noticed a change in pattern, she should always call her maternity unit or midwife and they will monitor and assess her babies heartbeat and wellbeing using a CTG monitor’’.
They can cause significant anxiety.
Dr Pat O’Brien, Consultant Obstetrician and Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: “The RCOG strongly discourages the use of fetal home Dopplers. These devices can cause significant anxiety among women who are pregnant, particularly if they are not able to hear their baby’s heartbeat and therefore understandably worry until they can see their doctor or midwife.
“We recommend that women monitor their baby’s movements during pregnancy as a reduction or pattern change in movement can indicate that the baby is unwell.
“In this situation, we advise women should go into hospital where, depending on how far the pregnancy is, a midwife will usually monitor the baby’s heartbeat for half an hour or so – known as a CTG. It is the pattern of change of the heart rate over that time that can check if baby is well”.
You can find the updated guidelines on the Gov.uk website