If you’re new to pregnancy, you’re likely also new to the various medical devices and equipment that your OBGYN will use. The presence of unfamiliar medical tools can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Reading up on essential prenatal care devices can make you feel more at ease when it comes time for checkups and treatment. In this article, we’ll answer the common question, “What is a Doppler used for in a pregnancy?” so that you can feel confident and comfortable when your OBGYN starts to use one.
What Does a Doppler Do?
The Doppler Effect
Before we dive into what Doppler ultrasonography is, let’s cover the Doppler effect briefly. Austrian physicist Christian Doppler invented the Doppler radar in the mid-19th century. The radar gave us a way to gauge the difference between various frequency waves.
Doppler ultrasonography uses the Doppler effect to produce images via ultrasounds. A noninvasive test, a Doppler ultrasound bounces sound waves off your red blood cells. Doppler ultrasounds differ from regular ultrasounds because they reveal blood flow.
What Is the Importance of Doppler in Pregnancies?
So what is a Doppler used for in a pregnancy, and why does it matter? Well, with the help of Doppler technology, doctors can check on the unborn child’s health. OBGYNs focus on selecting the right handheld Doppler based on which kind of reading they would like to perform during your visit. With Doppler tools, they can check blood flow in the following areas.
- The umbilical cord and arteries
- The baby’s heart and brain
- Your baby’s other organs
Dopplers identify whether your baby’s health is in good standing. They can recognize if there is not enough blood flow, which may result in your child not receiving enough blood, nutrients, or oxygen from the placenta. Doppler results inform prenatal medical staff whether they need to take any additional measures to ensure your child’s health.
When Do Doctors Start Using Doppler?
If you’re wondering when you’re most likely to encounter a Doppler test, you can expect your first Doppler ultrasound around 9–12 weeks. After your initial checkup, you can anticipate hearing your baby’s heartbeat at every ultrasound.