Technology is a marvelous thing. The idea of being able to see and hear your baby almost from the beginning is awe-inspiring. As for many things, technology for a pregnant after loss mama is a double-edged sword. The ultrasound or Doppler that can provide reassurance that is so desperately sought can also trigger immense grief.

pregnant person using a doppler - To doppler or not. to doppler during your pregnancy after loss


Even more incredible is the fact that you don’t have to go to your health care provider to get this information, as dopplers are sold commercially. Heck, there are even apps that purport to serve as dopplers (many have attachments that make them work).

But is investing in this technology a good idea?

The answer can range from “it depends” to a flat-out “no.” Typically, those with at least a technician level of training are qualified to perform an ultrasound. The concern with laypeople using this technology is severalfold. First, most people don’t have ANY training with medical equipment or its interpretation. Second, the likelihood of a panicked call to your provider is high if you don’t hear anything, which spikes the delicate balance of anxiety for any pregnant after loss mom. Third, how reassuring would it actually be? For many, seeing the baby on an ultrasound provides (at best) 24-hours of calm before the anxiety starts to seep in again.

Here are some ideas if you want to have the 24-7 piece of mind that a Doppler supposedly gives during pregnancy after loss:

  • To start, talk to your healthcare team about buying your own Doppler. This will start a conversation where you can gauge how supportive your providers are to this practice.
  • Ask for some training. If you are going to go ahead, at least learn the nuances between your heartbeat and your baby’s—it will be less anxiety-provoking in the long run.
  • Come up with a plan if you can’t detect the heart rate. Who can you call? When will you double-check? When might you go in for a second opinion?

One thing to note is that a Doppler is a tool. However, it provides momentary reassurance around anxiety (which is normal in a pregnancy after a loss) but does not provide coping strategies to manage this feeling. Often, anxiety can last long after a Doppler would prove to be effective.

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