Doppler machines that enable pregnant women to check their baby’s heartbeat offer false reassurance and should be banned, campaigners have warned.
The charity Kicks Count – which encourages women to keep a close check on baby movements – said the hand-held devices may fail to detect imminent stillbirth.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) also warned against women using the machines, saying it is too easy to confuse sounds coming from the mother with those from the baby.
Why you shouldn’t use a Home Doppler if you’re worried about your baby’s movements. Very important! Pls RT pic.twitter.com/X9LiyfDWSk
— Kicks Count (@KicksCount) February 7, 2014
Home dopplers are available to buy for around £30, while phone apps also claim to monitor an unborn baby’s heartbeat.
Kicks Count is calling on the Government to ban home dopplers, and a petition on the issue has so far attracted more than 7,000 signatures.
Elizabeth Hutton, chief executive of the charity, said: “Midwives and doctors train for many years to interpret what they hear through a doppler.
“It is a medical device, not an object to be used for entertainment. An untrained pregnant woman does not have the necessary skills to understand what she is hearing.
“The placenta, and the mother’s heartbeat can both easily be mistaken for a foetal heartbeat and women can be falsely reassured.
“Our advice has always been that women should seek professional medical advice if they…