First you feel that momentous first movement and immediately question it – was it baby’s first kick and did I really feel something? Then you reflect on how it felt because you may not feel that little kick again for a while. Some mums-to-be describe that first flutter variously as butterfly wings, flapping, gas bubbles, growling stomach, twitches or even little fishes swimming. You won’t feel it consistently until baby gets bigger packing a more powerful punch so it’s not until the third trimester that you have to keep a daily count of baby’s kicks.
That second precious moment is hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Detecting a foetal heartbeat is very difficult, if not impossible for the human ear but some expectant mums claim they can hear their baby’s heartbeat through their tummy later in the pregnancy during their second or third trimester. Otherwise you should hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time at your dating scan which usually happens between 8-14 weeks when baby’s heartbeat is beating between 110 times and 160 times a minute, twice as fast as an adult heartbeat.
After the dating scan, the next time you will hear your baby’s heartbeat may be during your 16 week appointment with your midwife who is most likely to use a hand-held Doppler device to listen in. This is an ideal time to record that precious moment with one of our Baby Heartbeat Bears which you can then keep as a unique memento of a very precious moment to play before and after baby’s arrival. All you need to do is take the voice recorder with you to the scan and record the heartbeat directly into the recorder. Alternatively record it on your mobile and then play your baby’s heartbeat back into the recorder later. Pop it into your bear of choice – there is also an option of adding a teddy T-shirt printed with the scan image of your baby – picture and sound captured with a very unique keepsake.
The Doppler ultrasound works using sound waves to detect the movement of blood in vessels and is a non-invasive test while a regular ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images but can’t show blood flow. While ultrasound is very common today, it has not been around that long and didn’t become commonplace until the 1960’s.
It was first used in Glasgow in 1956 by obstetrician Ian Donald and engineer named Tom Brown who developed the first prototype system for ultrasound, but it wasn’t perfected until the end of the 1950s.
Ultrasound continued to evolve with the next milestone in 1966 when Dennis Watkins, John Reid and Don Baker created the pulse Doppler ultrasound technology allowing for imaging of blood flow throughout many layers of the heart.
During the 1980s, the technology started to become more sophisticated, but it wasn’t until the 1990s when ultrasound screening really became commonplace. During the 1990s, the adoption of 4D capabilities became possible and now many private baby scanning clinics offer so many options for mums and dads to be. With 3D and 4D scans you can see your baby’s skin, rather than just the insides! You see also the shape of your baby’s mouth and nose and may be able to spot a baby yawn or a tiny tongue sticking out. It’s thanks to the huge advances in science that today’s expectant parents get a chance to experience their baby before he or she emerges into the big wide world. And while parents-to-be play the waiting game, they can enjoy treasured pictures of baby in the womb and listen to the sound of their baby’s heartbeat until the time comes to touch their precious bundle of joy for the very first time.