Doppler (Twins)

Who Gets the Test?

Most women first hear their twin babies' heartbeats during a routine checkup that uses the fetal Doppler early in their pregnancy. Many ultrasound machines also allow the heartbeat to be heard even before it can be heard with a handheld Doppler. Most women now get an ultrasound prior to 12 weeks.

What the Test Does

The fetal Doppler uses sound waves to pick up your babies' heartbeats.

How the Test Is Done

You'll lie down and a technician will hold a small probe against your belly. It's safe and painless.

Some companies sell Dopplers for use at home. The FDA suggests that you avoid them. Although Dopplers are generally safe, using them too much -- without medical supervision -- could pose risks to your babies.

What to Know About Test Results

Hearing your babies' heartbeats for the first time can be deeply moving. Keep in mind that a baby's heartbeat is much faster than an adult's.

If you're in your first trimester and you can't hear your babies' heartbeats, don't worry. Dopplers can't reliably detect a baby's heartbeat until 10 to 12 weeks. Your doctor may try again on your next visit. An ultrasound may give you clearer results.

How Often the Test Is Done During Your Pregnancy

Your doctor may use the Doppler often to listen to your babies' heartbeats during routine checkups, starting at about 8 to 10 weeks. Handheld Dopplers will not work this early.

Other Names for This Test

Doppler fetal monitor, Doptone, ultrasonic Doppler, fetal Doppler

Tests Similar to This One

Ultrasound

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 21, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

UptoDate: Antepartum fetal heart rate assessment.

FDA: Avoid Fetal "Keepsake" Images, Heartbeat Monitors.

University of Illinois: Hospital & Health Sciences System.

Cedars-Sinai: Pregnancy.

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