What is a Normal Fetal Heart Rate?

normal fetal heart rate

A normal fetal heart rate is a good sign that your baby is growing and developing properly. Doctors should check for a normal fetal heart rate at 6 weeks until the end of the pregnancy. Modern technology has allowed people to hear their baby’s heart beat with the use of a fetal Doppler. There is an old wives tale that says heart rate is a gender predictor, which has been proven absolutely false by medical science. This lie is still propagated by many people including midwives.

Normal Fetal Heart Rate: Fetal Development

A normal fetal heart rate varies depending on when it is checked. For example, at the beginning of week 5 the heart beat will be around 80 beats per minutes. At the end of the 8th week it will be 170 beats per minutes. This is totally normal as the heart rate of a fetus changes throughout the pregnancy.

A low fetal heart rate should be checked often. Doctors will check for a normal fetal heart rate at 7 weeks up until the end of the pregnancy.

A normal fetal heart rate at 12 weeks is somewhere between 120 and 160 bpm.

Normal Fetal Heart Rate Third Trimester

A normal fetal heart rate during the second trimester is important but not as important as the third trimester. The third trimester is the last third of the pregnancy where the fetus is almost fully developed. An abnormal heart rate at this point in the pregnancy can be a sign of major birth defects such as:

  • Aortic Stenosis – this defect is where the aortic valve is stiffened and narrow. This causes strain on the heart because one side has to pump harder than the other to make up for the deficit.
  • Atrial Septal Defect – ASD as it is referred to is a hole in the wall of the heart that separates the left and right atrium.
  • Atrioventricular Canal Defect – this defect is caused by poor development of the central heart chamber. There is generally a large hole in the heart between the upper and lower chambers. There is also usually just one valve instead of two valves that allow blood to flow into the heart.
  • Coarctation of the Aorta – COA is caused by a narrowing of the aorta. This decreases the flow of the blood to the lower body.

A normal fetal heart rate is a pleasant sound to any expecting parent. This tells doctors and health care professionals that the baby’s heart is developing well and functioning properly. It is in no way a predictor of the baby’s gender and has been disproven by several medical studies. Your doctor should be checking your baby’s heart beat on a regular basis throughout your pregnancy.

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