The moment your baby’s heartbeat is heard, it will change your life forever. It’s the first sign that your child is alive, and you’ll hear it well before you feel the first kick in your stomach. Not only is a heartbeat a good sign that your baby is healthy, it also has many different applications in the medical field. A baby’s heartbeat can be used to find abnormalities in the child, and can also be used determine how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Table of Contents
- Fetal Heart Rate: What Is the Normal Heart Rate?
- How the Heartbeat Myth All Started
- Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate
- Other Tests That Can Determine Gender
- Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Gender Prediction
- Should You Have a FetalHeart Rate Monitor?
- Gender Predictor Test? The Truth about Fetal Heart Rate and Gender
Fetal Heart Rate: What Is the Normal Heart Rate?
The normal beats per minute (BPM) occurs in the utero period of pregnancy. In a healthy, normal child, you can expect the heart rate to be 120 to 160 beats per minute (bpm). But you’ll also find that these rates change depending on how many weeks you’ve been pregnant.
Doctors know that myocardium begins approximately three weeks after conception. Technically, your child’s heart begins to beat when they he or she is just three weeks into the development cycle, but it’s so low that it can’t be picked up on a sonogram.
Let’s take a look at when you can expect to have a sonogram done to hear your baby’s heartbeat, and what you can expect at varying weeks in your pregnancy.
Fetal Heart Rate by Weeks
Very few women will be able to have sonographic done to find the fetal heart rate (FHR) at five weeks. In fact, you’ll find that the fetal heart rate at six weeks is very close to the five-week range.
The average at 5- 6 weeks is 110 bpm.
Your baby is still growing, and this rate will change rapidly. A normal fetal heart rate is not experienced until very late term. Let’s a look at the rates at different weeks, and what you can expect your child’s bpm to be.
- Fetal Heart Rate at 7, 8, 9, 10 Weeks: During this time, your child’s heart rate will be increasing dramatically. This isn’t a cause for concern, and is actually a sign that everything is perfectly normal. Starting from the 110 bpm at six weeks, the heart rate will increase during the seventh week and reach levels of 170 bpm by weeks 9 – 10. You can expect this heart rate to persist for the next four weeks.
- FHR at 11, 12, 13, 14 Weeks: The 14-week mark is when the heart rate will start declining from 170 bps. You can expect bpm to be 150 at 14 weeks.
- FHR at 20 Weeks: Just 5 months into your pregnancy, your baby’s bpm will decline even further down to 140.
Many moms worry because FHR levels aren’t always precise. Every child is different, and you may find that there’s a difference of 5- 15 bpm during your pregnancy. This isn’t a major concern, and is often accepted by doctors as a natural occurrence.
You’ll find that most doctors will be concerned if the heart rate begins to exceed these ranges. In this case, your doctor will discuss your best options at this time and guide you through the process.
There’s also the option of buying your own heart rate monitor – which many mothers do.
How the Heartbeat Myth All Started
Since the dawn of time, people have tried to determine a baby’s gender before he or she is born. There are many different customs imbedded in tradition as well as folklore of different nations on how to determine if your baby is a boy or a girl.
However, when it comes to deciding on a gender based on the intrauterine number of beats per minute, it seems that it’s not only a part of folklore. Before the invention of the ultrasound, midwives were the ones who made sure that the mother and baby were healthy.
Even later on, the ultrasound was used only for pregnancies that carried some risk. All of the examinations were conducted by doctors, nurses and midwives using old-fashioned, traditional tools and methods.
It is believed that this is around the time when the heartbeat myth started. Based on experience, medical workers started making predictions of the baby’s gender using various signs, including the heart’s beats per minute.
There was no scientific research that could back up these predictions. Therefore, the chances were fifty-fifty. Sometimes they would guess right, sometimes they would be wrong.
However, the act of prediction was just some fun activity that secured the bond between the medical staff and the expecting parents.
Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate
What Is Considered Abnormal?
The normal fetal heart rate, depending on the stage of your pregnancy and some other factors, can vary between 120 and 160 beats per minute.
If your baby’s heart rate is somewhat slower (bradycardia), or is above this baseline (tachycardia), then it is labeled as abnormal and needs some further investigation.
What Are the Causes?
Doctors haven’t been able to agree on all of the causes of a baby’s irregular heartbeat during pregnancy. However, they have managed to pinpoint some possible situations where this can occur.
First of all, they have concluded that the possible culprit may be caffeine, which is found in coffee and tea. Therefore, they recommend that you limit your caffeine intake during pregnancy to around 200 ml a day. This is roughly the amount found in one regular cup of coffee.
If you can do it, it is best to stay away from coffee while pregnant altogether and replace it with other beverages that can be more beneficial to you and your baby as well.
Next, this condition may be – and most of the time is – a temporary occurrence. In the second trimester, the baby develops much faster and his or her heart grows stronger.
This causes the electrical circuits to work irregularly for some time, until the balance is managed and the heart completely matures. In the rarest cases, an abnormal heartbeat indicates that something is actually wrong with the baby.
Sometimes, the condition may be treated with therapy that the mother takes. Through her bloodstream, the active substances from medication travel to the placenta and then to the baby through the umbilical cord.
Other times, a baby is born with a heart condition and therapy is administered right after the birth. Then, the team of experts evaluates the next steps that should be taken.
What Should You Do?
Irregular heartbeats are not that uncommon. It happens in around 14% of healthy pregnancies and presents a completely normal state that passes quickly. Only in 1 or 2% of cases do irregular heartbeats require a detailed investigation and adequate medication.
A baby’s heartbeat is also an important factor that the medical team tracks during labor. If the heartbeat slows down or starts to speed up, it indicates that the baby is in stress, which requires quick action and decision on how the baby should be delivered.
After the baby is born, in most cases everything comes back to normal right away and no further action is needed.
When Can You Predict Gender?
Your baby’s gender is determined right away after conception. The gender is written in your baby’s DNA and depends on the fact if it inherits the X or Y chromosome. Girls carry an XX genetic pattern, while boys have XY chromosomes.
You are maybe not aware of this, but while some organs differentiate almost immediately, the genitals will need some time to appear. This happens between 10 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.
If you wish to find out the gender of your baby, you will have to wait until you are about 18 to 20 weeks along in your pregnancy. That is the most optimal time when your doctor can see if you are carrying a boy or a girl during a regular ultrasound check.
However, most of the time, babies tend to turn around and position themselves in a way that leaves a lot to speculation. In that case, you will have to wait for another doctor’s appointment and hope that your baby will cooperate.
If you are carrying a boy, it will be easier for your doctor to see it, for obvious reasons. Sometimes, a pregnancy requires additional tests to make sure that there are no genetic disorders and other risk factors that can endanger your baby’s health.
These prenatal tests include Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) and can be conducted during early pregnancy – during the first trimester. They represent invasive methods that are conducted only when it is needed, as they carry some serious risks.
They can also give the precise information of your baby’s gender but are never conducted for these purposes.
Other Tests That Can Determine Gender
Non-Invasive Genetic Testing
These days, there are many non-invasive alternatives that can determine the presence of some genetic disorders directly from the mother’s blood.
Although their main purpose is not to determine the gender of your baby, they can give an accurate estimation. This is due to the fact that they reveal the presence or absence of the Y chromosome.
You will find out whether you are carrying a boy or a girl as early as 9 weeks into your pregnancy. However, these tests also have some limitations, as they are not recommended for women carrying multiples, using donor eggs, or have undergone bone marrow transplant.
As we have already mentioned, you will visit your doctor for regular ultrasound check-ups during your pregnancy.
Given the fact that the genitals need some time to develop and your baby needs to be positioned the right way, the earliest time to determine its gender is around 18 to 20 weeks of your pregnancy.
However, most of the time, the technician or doctor giving you an ultrasound will focus on the important measurements to make sure your baby is developing the way it should. Having said that, he or she may forget to mention the sex of your baby.
Make sure you let them know that you wish to find out about the gender as well. If the conditions are right and your baby decides to cooperate, his or her genitals will show and a definite conclusion may be made.
There are many other methods that expecting parents and their families use to determine the gender of a baby before it comes to this world. Most of them are unreliable though and are pretty much a lucky guess, with 50:50 chances of making the right prediction.
However, people seem to enjoy them and they may be a lot of fun in baby shower parties, with your friends and family to celebrate the little miracle growing inside of you.
The Chinese Gender Prediction Chart
This chart uses the mother’s age in time of conception and the month of conception to predict whether the baby will be a boy or a girl.
The Ramzi Method
This method uses the ultrasound picture; you can use the one from the early days of your pregnancy. The key is to look at the picture and estimate which side of the uterus the baby is attached to.
If the baby is on the left side, you are carrying a girl. If the placenta forms on the right side of your womb, then it is a boy. This stands for the transvaginal ultrasound. If the ultrasound is abdominal, then you should look at the picture opposite – left for the boy and right for the girl.
The Way You Look
If you are a beautiful pregnant lady with that famous “glow” of your skin and beautiful, lush hair, then you are carrying a boy. If you have acne, you don’t glow as much and your hair is all dull and limp, then you are carrying a girl that is “stealing your beauty” in the process.
If your “linea nigra,” a dark line on your belly that continues above the belly button, then you are carrying a boy. If it ends below your belly button, then it is a girl.
Another popular method says that if your belly is low, then it is a boy. On the other hand, if your belly is placed high, then you are most likely carrying a baby girl.
Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Gender Prediction
Fetal heartbeat is controlled during pregnancy to make sure that your baby is developing as it should. During different stages of your pregnancy, the baby’s beats per minute rate will vary. However, it should be somewhere between 120 and 160.
If it falls below or exceeds this baseline, there is usually nothing to worry about, as the condition clears out on its own once the baby’s heart is fully matured. Only in rare cases does it indicate more serious problems that need to be treated with medication.
One of the things it is claimed to reveal is your baby’s gender. However, until this day, there is not a single scientific proof to back up these claims and it all comes down to speculations.
Having said that, wearing a fetal heart monitor may be useful in situations where the doctors think there are some risks related to your pregnancy and wish to make sure the baby is doing fine.
Another benefit is that hearing the beating of the little heart inside of you will keep you calm, especially if you are a first-time mother. With this monitor, you can keep track of your baby’s heartbeats and try to figure out whether it is a boy or a girl just for fun.
However, don’t rely too much on this method and just try to enjoy your pregnancy to the fullest.
Should You Have a FetalHeart Rate Monitor?
FHR monitors are inexpensive and perfect for mothers that have a hard time sleeping at night, not knowing if their child is okay. Fetal heart rate monitors are able to help you listen to your baby’s heartbeat at all times.
While comforting, these monitors are only effective to a point.
If you’re very early on in your pregnancy, these “dopplers” will barely be able to a pick up on your baby’s heartbeat. In truth, many hospital-grade sonograms are not able to detect a heartbeat until the six-week period or later.
And you can’t expect these at-home models to be as effective as hospital-grade equipment.
But you should purchase one of these heart rate monitors if you fall into one of the following categories:
- You’re experiencing pregnancy complications and want to monitor your child’s heart rate.
- You’ve had difficulty giving birth before, and want a way to alert your doctor of a potential problem.
- You have a hard time sleeping at night not knowing if your child is safe.
Many mothers have found that an FHR monitor allows them to sleep better at night. Oftentimes, mothers will become so used to these monitors they use it as a way to meditate themselves sleep.
Since these monitors are completely safe, you never have to worry about them harming your baby, or you. These monitors are simply an added bonus for any mother, and something that’s recommended for first-time mothers who are so eager to have their first child.
Gender Predictor Test? The Truth about Fetal Heart Rate and Gender
If you’ve yet to have your doctor tell you the gender of your baby, many women will try to use the FHR as a baby gender predictor. Let’s discuss how a gender predictor test is conducted using your baby’s heartbeat.
The baby is inside of a gestational sac, and the heart rate of the baby is used in the following ways:
- If the heart rate is 140 bpm or higher, the baby is a girl.
- If the heart rate lower than 140 bpm, you are carrying a boy.
For decades, this was the go-to boy or girl predictor. Many women around the world used this method to predict the sex of their baby. And, like with any other method, there’s a 50-50 chance that the prediction is right.
It’s very hard to truly consider a baby heart rate for a boy or girl when conducting any gender test.
As we discussed earlier, the heart rate of the child will be elevated during the early pregnancy, which would indicate that every baby is a girl. But this rate naturally comes down as pregnancy continues, and a rate of 130 ppm is not uncommon later on.
Logic alone isn’t enough to prove that this method doesn’t work. A medical study was conducted in 2006 to prove that the FHR rate during the first trimester is not significantly different between female or male babies. If you’re using this method during the first trimester, there’s a good chance that your prediction will be wrong.
Another study was conducted in the 1980s that looked at over 10,000 FHR, and found that embryonic heart rate does not help predict the gender of the baby.
All research points out a single fact – there is no correlation between baby heartbeats and gender.
The study did find that heart rates do vary with abnormal cardiac development, which is still being studied today. It’s safe to say that cardiac development even as young as nine weeks may be able to signal doctors and mothers that there’s an issue with the baby. What can be done? Vitamins and medications may be given to the mother in an attempt to help correct this abnormal development.
Listening to your baby’s heart rate for the first time is one of the most exciting times in your life. This is the first time that you’ll see a visual display of your baby’s heart beating, and technology allows us to hear this heartbeat as soon as 5 to 6 weeks after conception. While an FHR cannot help you predict your baby’s gender, it can help for early detection of cardiac development abnormalities that may occur.