RCM concerned about home doppler machines for use by pregnant women

By RCM on 20 June 2017 Advice

Today the Kicks Count charity is warning of the potential dangers of Home Doppler machines for pregnant women. The machines are used to check for the developing baby’s heartbeat.

Commenting on the use of home Doppler machines in pregnancy, Mandy Forrester Head of Quality and Standards at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “The RCM has concerns about the use of personal Doppler machines.  We have two key concerns: firstly, the machines can lead to unnecessary stress for women when they are unable to find a heartbeat using the personal Doppler and secondly, that women may be falsely reassured by hearing what they think is their baby’s heartbeat when it is actually their own.

“The sound that is 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 well.

“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. Being active – wriggling, kicking, rolling – is an indicator that the baby is well.  Babies will have individual patterns that their mothers will begin to recognise as their pregnancy progresses – for example some babies are much more active when their mother is having a rest or in the evening or after a meal, while other babies have very active mornings.  We would recommend that where a woman is concerned that her baby has been less active than usual that she should call her midwife or maternity unit to seek their advice.

“Women should always contact their midwife if they are worried about their baby’s movements, or anything else. Midwives want them and their baby to be as safe and cared for as possible.”

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].


Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.