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"How early should a fetus have a heartbeat?"


When should a fetus's heart begin to beat. I just had an ultrasound and the doctor said not to worry, that it's too early for the heart to be beating. But of course, I'm worrying anyway. When is a good time to schedule another ultrasound so I can make sure the heart is beating as normal?


Fetal development is monitored closely throughout the pregnancy to ensure that everything is progressing well. Ultrasounds are performed between 5 and 9 weeks, and at 20 weeks to assess growth and fetal heart sounds are detected at most visits to insure that the pregnancy is viable. The fetal heart begins beating at about 5 weeks and can be detected by transvaginal ultrasound shortly after this.

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If you had been checked after 5 weeks, and no heart beat was detected, it does not mean that the fetus is not alive. It may just mean that the ultrasound detector was not placed in the very small window that can see the heart beats at that stage. If no heart beat is detected at 9 weeks then more testing would need to be done to insure that the fetus is still viable. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your OBGYN at about 9 weeks of gestation (assuming that you aren't there yet) unless you begin having symptoms for which you should schedule an earlier appointment (vaginal bleeding, cramping, ect). By then, the heart rate should be easy to detect with the transvaginal ultrasound technique. Good luck with your pregnancy.

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