Pregnancy examination: what is the fetal doppler?

Pregnancy examination: what is the fetal doppler?

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Fetal Doppler, or Doppler ultrasound, is a medical imaging test that measures blood flow. Prescribed to monitor the evolution of certain pregnancies, it represents no danger, neither for you, nor for your future baby. We take stock.

Fetal doppler: what exactly?

  • Like ultrasound, Doppler is an ultrasound-based examination; for this reason, it is often referred to as "Doppler ultrasound". An ultrasound is used to visualize the organs (eg, stomach, heart), Doppler allows rather to check the blood flow in the veins and arteries.
  • During pregnancy, there are three main types of fetal Doppler: the cerebral Doppler, which ensures that the blood circulates well in the cerebral arteries of the fetus, uterine Doppler, which is interested in the uterine arteries and the umbilical Doppler , which controls the blood flow in the umbilical arteries to verify that the mother / fetus exchange is going well.

Fetal doppler: a case-by-case examination

  • Unlike the three mandatory pregnancy scans, fetal doppler is not routinely performed. It is generally prescribed to monitor so-called "at-risk" pregnancies, such as twin pregnancies, for example, in the case of maternal hypertension or in case of gestational diabetes.
  • If a small abnormality has been detected during conventional pregnancy monitoring (eg, in utero growth retardation), a fetal doppler may also be prescribed to diagnose the cause of the problem and take the necessary steps to correct it. For example, a brain doppler may reveal a dilation of the fetal brain's arteries, which is a possible sign of fetal anemia. In most cases, the latter is mild (just control its evolution) but in cases of severe fetal anemia, blood transfusion in utero can be done to keep the fetus in full health.

Fetal Doppler: How is the examination?

  • Like ultrasound, Doppler is based on ultrasound, but it does not really provide images: it analyzes the speed of blood in the uterine arteries or the umbilical cord vessels to detect possible fetal distress.
  • Most often, the fetal doppler takes place at the same time as a pregnancy ultrasound. There is no need to come fasting or full bladder. On the other hand, it is better to avoid applying a moisturizer or other care product on the stomach in the hours preceding the examination, so that the ultrasound propagates correctly.
  • Doppler, painless for both you and baby, is much the same way as a "classic" ultrasound: you lie on your back, then the practitioner spreads a gel on your belly to facilitate the passage of ultrasound before passing the ultrasound probe on your belly.

What about the fetal doppler at home?

  • Nowadays, it is quite easy to obtain a "fetal Doppler" in the trade. The latter does not have much to do with a real doppler practiced by a professional: in practice, it is mainly used to listen to the baby's heartbeat.
  • This type of device is, as a rule, hardly appreciated by health professionals. Already, as a precautionary principle: we know that in small doses, ultrasound is safe for the unborn baby but no one knows the potential effects of long and numerous exposures. But above all, this device can worry parents for nothing. It is common not to hear the heartbeat of the fetus while he is in perfect health: he is just not in the right position.

Karine Ancelet