Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on April 5, 2015
This works really well - but you need to know how to use it. I work in the medical profession and have used many types of stethoscopes in the past but this is the first time seeing and using a fetoscope. I just tried it today and was able to hear baby's heart tones relatively quickly. For those who've never used a fetoscope here are some step by step instructions:

1. When you first get the fetoscope it comes in two parts, the ear piece with tubing and then actual fetoscope (the part that look like a metal rod with a black bell on one side and black curved piece on the other). Attach that to the tubing, make sure that it's attached very tightly so that the tubing touches the rod (no connector should be showing).

2. When using the fetoscope, make sure the earpieces are placed tightly in your ears so that there is a good seal, no outside air moving around the pieces (can be a bit difficult because the earpieces are hard plastic, not very comfortable, but since you're only going to wear it for a few minutes, its tolerable). Also, proper stethoscope/fetoscope usage means that prior to placing the earpieces in, look at it, and you'll see that the ear pieces actually face one direction - you want to wear it so that the earpieces are pointing towards your eyes, not the back of your head.

3. Hold the scope by the curved black piece, not the metal rod in between. Apply the the bell shaped part to the belly.

4. Listen to all four quadrants of the belly (meaning, listen to all parts of your belly). If your baby is younger (2nd trimester or less) it will most likely be in the areas of the belly under the belly button (maybe even closer to pubis area). If you happen to know the position of the baby (head up/breech or head down or laying across/transverse) it can be helpful to find placement. To be able to hear the fetal heart, you must place the bell of the fetoscope where baby's heart is. So if baby is breech, you're more likely to find the heart tones higher on the belly and if baby's head down, you're more likely to find heart tones lower on the belly. Also remember that younger babies have more room so they tend to flip around a lot, so even if an ultrasound from earlier in the day states one position, the baby may have moved into a different position.

5. When listening for the heart tones, here are some tricks that help:
-Do it first thing in the morning when your bowel sounds are the quietest so the heart tones don't get masked by the bowel sounds
-Lay on your back or slightly tilted to one side or the other (pregnant women should avoid laying flat on back if possible to maximize circulation to baby).
-On heavier women it might be easier to gently pull the belly so that the skin where you place the bell is more taut.
-Press bell down to belly with a gentle but firm touch, remember to hold scope by the curved black piece, not the metal rod or you will mask the sound.
-Listen for several seconds before moving to another spot if unable to find heart tones.
-Try to do this in a very quiet room, since the fetal heart tone will be very faint (remember you're listening to fetal heartbeat through many layers of tissue, mom's skin, adipose(fatty) tissue, abdominal muscle wall, uterine wall, amniotic sac with fluid, and baby's skin and muscles so when and if you do hear the heart tones it will be very soft/muffled). The fetal heartbeat is also very fast (fetal heartrate is normally between 110-160 beats per minute, whereas adults are more like 60-80 beats per minute). What you end up hearing sounds like a very fast but very soft/dull drum beat. If you're lucky and get heart tones that are very loud you may be able to hear the traditional "buh-bum buh-bum buh-bum" sound of a heart beating, but if it's not very loud you may only hear the "bum bum bum bum" sound.
-If you don't hear anything, don't give up! Try listening again at a different time, since babies tend to move around, hopefully one of the movements will place his back closer to the belly so that you can hear the heart. Remember it's definitely harder to hear heart sounds in very younger fetuses (although electronic dopplers can detect heart tones as early as 5-6 weeks gestation, stethoscopes and fetoscopes typically aren't strong enough to hear anything until 18-20 weeks gestation, which is about halfway through second trimester).
-Remember, a fetoscope is designed to listen to fetal heart tones, so if you're testing it on your own heartbeat or another adult's heartbeat it's not going to sound very loud and clear either. But that doesn't mean this is a "piece of junk" as some other commenters have said. It is designed for the very specific purpose of auscultating fetal heart tones.
-Occasionally you may accidentally be listening to the maternal heart beat because you're listening to a maternal artery rather than the fetal heart. If unsure (especially if maternal pulse is quite high) you can double check by feeling for mom's pulse on the wrist - if it matches the heartbeat that you're hearing then it's maternal pulse, not baby, so move the scope to a different location and listen again.

On a personal note: I have worked with pregnant women and also newborns so I am pretty used to the sound of a fetal and newborn heartbeat, and so I was able to recognize and hear it when quite quickly when using the fetoscope. The fetal heartrate is very, very fast. If you've never heard it before, I suggest searching online and listening to some sound clips to get an idea prior to starting. I used this fetoscope on myself, and I am currently 24 weeks pregnant. Prior to pregnancy I was slightly overweight especially in the belly area so I was concerned that it would be difficult (if not impossible) to hear through the fatty tissue of the belly, but it was not the case for me. After locating the heart tones I did pass the earpiece to my husband (who is not in the medical profession) and he had a difficult time hearing it - he said he wasn't sure if what he was hearing was the heart or just weird sounds. After passing the earpiece back to me I listened again and could still hear the heart sounds, but again it is very faint, and since he didn't know what he was listening for couldn't really hear it.

I used several different types of stethoscopes (including a very nice cardiac one) on myself prior to the fetoscope and was unable to hear the heart tones until using the fetoscope.

Tl;dr -

Pros:
-It's cheap (was $13 at time of purchase through Amazon)! Especially compared to an electronic doppler (and no messy gels to work with).
-It works!
-I can use it any time - no need to worry about replacing batteries or recharging it, haha.
-Comes in a sturdy cardboard box so when I'm not using it I can put it back in box for easy storage.

Cons:
-May be more difficult for people who have none/limited experience with stethoscopes, fetoscopes or fetal heart sounds (hopefully my review helps with that though)
-The earpieces are a very hard plastic and can be very uncomfortable for some people (was manageable for me though, but maybe my ears have gotten tougher after all these years of jabbing various stethoscopes in my ears), and you do have to shove pretty firmly into your ears to form a tight seal for it to be effective.
-Even if you do hear heart tones it can be very quiet/muffled, and you can't amplify sounds (obviously) like you could with an electronic doppler, so you really do want to do this in a very quiet place (turn off all fans, televisions, etc), and know what you're listening for.
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