It’s exciting, isn’t it? To realize that you were pregnant and your baby starts to grow inside of you. Well, most of mothers who come for a visit early were expecting to hear the sound of their fetal heartbeat.
Unfortunately, if you were present before the 6 weeks of pregnancy, you wouldn’t hear a thing.
This is due to the fact that your baby’s heart is still a tube which isn’t twisted and divided yet to form the pumping organ.
Fetal heartbeat would be established spontaneously during the 5th week of pregnancy. I kid you not. Blood vessels were forming and your child would have a well-functioning cardiovascular system soon.
The number of beats will vary throughout pregnancy. During the 6th week, it will be at around 110 beats per minute. The number will escalate when the pregnancy reaches 8 weeks to 150 beats per minute.
From this point onwards, it will start to slow down until the day of delivery. A handheld ultrasound device can be used to hear the sounds of your fetal heartbeat.
If you can’t hear your child’s heartbeat during the early phase, don’t panic. They were just shy, hiding from you, positioned awkwardly against the uterus making it difficult for the device to detect and amplify the telltale sound.
Soon, you will begin to hear it.
Fetal heartbeat, indication that everything is going to be okay
Although their circulatory systems were developing rather quickly, it will only function as it is intended once the baby is born.
Since your baby was not breathing in your uterus, their lungs are not yet functioning. If you know anything about the circulatory system, you would understand that this simply means their systems are not yet completed.
They would need other means of getting oxygen while expelling metabolic waste out.
While you were excited at the prospect of hearing your own fetal heartbeat, this particular organ was working tirelessly to supplement fuels.
Their demands for oxygen were met, thanks to the mother’s circulatory system which employs umbilical cords to ensure your baby is getting enough of everything.
Umbilical arteries and veins are two important structures that were connected to the baby to fulfill their ever increasing metabolic demand.
In essence, their blood was shunted away from the respiratory circulation via a few ‘shortcuts’ such as ductus arteriosus and foramen ovale.
They were holes which allow the blood to bypass respiratory circulation and focus on providing oxygen through the systemic circulation instead.
Once a baby is born, they will start to take their first breath, causing pressure changes in the chest allowing blood to flow through the respiratory circulation.
You know, to get the red blood cells oxygenated. Manually, of course.
Keeping baby’s heart healthy
There are a few things that you could do to ensure your fetal heartbeat remain healthy:
- Quit smoking. Studies have shown that pregnant women who smoke have higher risks of getting babies with a congenital heart defect
- Beware of certain drugs. If you were taking supplements, ask your doctor about it. Some medications can cause congenital heart defects in babies as its unintended consequences.
- Take folic acid as instructed. Studies have shown it helps in preventing congenital heart diseases.
- Stop drinking alcohol
Keep in mind that, these are some ways you can minimize the risk of having babies with congenital heart defects.
Hearing your fetal heartbeat for the first time can be considered as one of the best moments while being pregnant.
However, there’s no way to prevent this medical condition indefinitely if genetic defects were to interfere causing congenital defects which would influence your baby’s health later.
If you are worried, you can schedule a check by visiting your doctor. A detailed scan is usually carried out when you are 18 weeks pregnant.
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