When Does a Baby Have A Heartbeat?

A healthy pregnancy should have a detectable normal heartbeat of the unborn child. The detection of the heartbeat depends on the type of pregnancy. A doctor can easily discover the heartbeat depending on the size of the pregnancy. As an expecting mother, you must wonder when a baby has a heartbeat, what a normal first heartbeat should be like?

When does a Baby Have a Heartbeat?

1. The first heartbeat

Doctors start counting from the gestation period when the mother stops having her menses. Therefore, the heart forms soon after fertilization. From the doctor’s calculation of the gestation period, this happens about four weeks after the mother’s last periods. This is barely a fortnight after fertilization, but the heart is forming. By the fifth week of the gestation period, the heart starts beating and divides into chambers. Six weeks later blood is flowing inside the body, and there is an improved heartbeat rate of 100 to 160 every minute. So you can hear a baby’s heartbeat at six week gestation.

Watch a video: a six-week fetal ultrasound:

2. Equipment for hearing fetal heartbeat

Modern obstetrics use a Fetal Doppler which triggers the baby’s activity using sound waves. The machine picks up these movements in a similar way that an ultra sound operates. However, with this equipment, there is no picture display of the fetus.

A transvaginal ultra sound is one of the equipments used to detect the heartbeat of a baby in its early stages. With this ultrasound tool, the heart can be noted as early as six weeks and four days from gestation period. The equipment has a probe which is inserted in the pregnant woman’s vagina, and it works by sending sound waves that detect the baby and its heartbeat. From the ultra sound machine, the doctor can see the uterus and measure its heart beat rate. At six weeks, the measurements feature perfect detection of the heartbeat per minute.

3. What if you don’t hear/see fetal heartbeat?

If your baby is six weeks or more and you don’t hear/see a heartbeat on ultrasound, the likelihood of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage will be discussed by your doctor. She will carry out lab test about hCG levels. She may also order a repeat ultrasound in three to five days to rule out possible equipment errors or possible errors in dating.

When the doctor looks at the fetus, he looks out for more than just the heartbeat. He searches for the gestational sac and checks the size of the baby. These measurements will determine the age of the fetus. As a result, the mother is able to understand their due date of birth. This is an estimate for the last menstrual dates. The accuracy of this date depends on whether you have a regular cycle or an irregular menstrual cycle.

What Should a Healthy First Heartbeat Be Like?

1. Heartbeat rate

A fetus heartbeat rate can be heard at 10 weeks of pregnancy. The rate could be slower or faster depending on the baby’s movements. Irregular heartbeat rates should not be a cause for alarm because it is a normal occurrence. It is similar to what happens with your heart beat depending on whether you’re active or not. Normally, the baby’s heart beat rate should be between 120-160 beats per minute.

2. Heartbeat rhythm

Doctors also listen to the rhythm of the baby’s heart. This could also be regular or irregular, hence should not be a cause for worry. An irregular rhythm is due to the fact that the baby’s electrical system in the heart is still underdeveloped. In case of an arrhymia or irregular rhythm, the doctor could request for further tests after some days. This is simply a confirmation test to assure you that there is nothing wrong with the baby.

Fetal Development-from Conception to Birth


Fetal Development

Day 6

The embryo is implanted in the uterus at this stage

Day 22

The baby’s heartbeat starts as the blood flow begins. The baby often has a different blood type from the mother.

Week 3

Baby’s spine and the nervous system form. Other organs like the liver, kidney and intestines take shape.

Week 4

The child is now 10,000 times the size of the egg when it was first fertilized.

Week 5

Baby’s limbs (hands and legs) begin to grow.

Week 6

Brain waves are detectable. The lips, mouth and fingernails develop.

Week 7

Baby is swimming and kicking. Eyelids, toes and nose can be seen.

Week 8

The bones replace the cartilage, all organs are intact, and the finger prints start to form. Baby can hear.

Week 9 &10

Baby is quite active. The teeth take shape, fingernails develop and the baby hiccups. It is also evident that the baby’s head is turning and can make facial expressions like frowning.

Week 10 & 11

It can breathe from the amniotic fluid; it also urinates. At the 11th week, the baby holds objects with the hand and all its organs are functional. The fetus also develops a skeletal structure, proper circulation and nerves.

Week 12 &14

The baby can feel pain as nerves, spine and thalamus are established. The baby sucks the thumb and the heart pumps severally.

Week 15

Adult taste buds develop.

Week 16

Bone marrow forms, heart pumps about 24 liters of blood on a daily basis. Baby weighs about ½ a pound.

Week 17-20

Baby has dreams, can recognize mothers voice and it’s a risky age for partial abortions.

5-6 months

Baby lungs developing and it breathes through amniotic fluids. Baby can grasp umbilical cord, kick. Sweat and oil glands function.

7-9 months

Baby’s senses are operational- the baby can see, hear, touch and taste. Baby’s heart pumps 300 gallons of blood a day. Baby skin develops and the fat stored under the skin. A week before the birth of the baby growth stops. The baby turns and drops head first into the pelvic cavity.

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