After one week we already love this Doppler. From arrival to hearing the reassuringly robust pounding sound of our developing baby's heartbeat took all of five minutes.
The set was surprisingly small to us - though we haven't had use of a doppler in a hospital to compare it with. The compact unit is attached to a small obelisk-shaped detection device that's easy to hold and guide. A single button controls on, off and volume control, which can be slightly awkward until you realise that to turn the unit off you need to press the entire button and not just the centre as the labelling seems to indicate. Once you've realised that though it couldn't be easier.
To use the unit you smear some ultrasound gel on the flat metal base of the detection 'pen' and then place it against your abdomen - if you haven't yet experienced an ultrasound before then be prepared for the gel to be a little cold! At first you're likely to hear stomach rumblings and your own heartrate, which will usually be obvious as it should be well below 100 bpm unless you've been exerting yourself. With usage you get quicker at locating your baby's heartbeat, with its distinctive pace and sound. Obviously as the pregnancy progesses and your baby moves about, the ideal place to hear the heartbeat will move too.
The digital display of the deluxe doppler shows when you've got a heartbeat with a flashing heart and, when you've got the optimal hearing position, with a larger heart. After a few moments it also displays a heartrate reading. Here's where you need little patience as it's tempting to move around the device constantly in search of the best signal but if you do this it seems more difficult for it to pick up a steady signal and the digital display flickers through a range of rates. Finding a good signal and holding it steady seems to yield more steady results. The heartrate you pick up should be between 120 and 160 bpm, if you're stressed, overtired or have been consuming alcohol or smoking then your baby's heartbeat will probably reflect this with a higher reading. If the reading is below 100 or above 190 then it's recommended that you inform your doctor. Make sure you're tracking the baby's heartrate and not your own though.
Our first use of the unit was at bang-on 13 weeks, and we were suprised by how clear and strong the sound of the heartbeat already was, to be honest at that early stage we'd expected to have to hunt around a bit for a signal rather than finding it within moments. Using the doppler has proved a big hit, particularly with my husband who loves being able to make a connection with the baby, and hearing how very real it is. Baby listening has become a bit of an evening past-time in our household.