Be careful -- having one of these monitors doesn't guarantee your baby's safety.
Ronda Kaysen: Companies selling home fetal heart monitors lure buyers with promises that having a monitor at home will give a mother peace of mind that her baby is alive and kicking in the womb.
"Whether you are facing a high-risk pregnancy or just want the reassurance that your baby is happy and safe, you will find comfort in monitoring your baby's heartbeat with the convenience of having your own Fetal Doppler-Baby Heart Monitor by your side," says the Belly Beats website.
But it's just that added sense of security that has doctors in Britain worried that a heart monitor makes moms relaxed when they should be on high alert.
A 34-year-old pregnant woman was 38 weeks pregnant when her baby stopped moving on a Friday. She'd had an uneventful pregnancy, and so when she heard what she thought was a heartbeat on her home monitor, she put her fears aside and spent the weekend at home. On Monday, when she went to the doctor, she learned that the baby had died. Had she gone to the doctor sooner, the outcome might have been different.
Dr. Abhijoy Chakladar and Dr. Hazel Adams, both of the Princess Royal Hospital in Britain, caution that an untrained ear can easily mistake the sound of blood flowing or amniotic fluid swishing about for a heartbeat, and a monitor alone cannot pick up all the signs of fetal distress.
"This is something that comes only with experience," Dr. Chakladar told the New York Times. "In a hospital, fetal health is assessed by experienced midwives and doctors who take a team approach."
I never used a monitor at home when I was pregnant -- it seemed so over the top to me. But it never occurred to me that more information would make me less safe. I'd love to hear from moms who did use a monitor when they were pregnant. Why did you get one? Did it affect how often you checked in with your doctor? Why did you get one?
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.|