A developing baby’s heart rate is normally 110-160 in utero, though it can sometimes be higher or lower than this.
While an adult’s heart rate is usually between 60-100 beats per minute, a fetus’s is much faster than that. When your baby’s heart rate is checked at a prenatal appointment or during monitoring in labor, we are usually looking to see that it falls between 110-160.
However, just like how our heart rate increases with movement and activity, so does a baby’s. Therefore, it might temporarily be higher than 160. Small dips in a baby’s heart rate can be common too, though drastically lower rates that are prolonged can be a sign of a problem. Interpreting all of this can be tricky, which is why using home fetal dopplers to listen to your baby’s heartbeat can sometimes cause more problems than they help. If you do use one of these monitors and have a concern, be sure to let your doctor or midwife know.
Reviewed by Jennifer Lincoln, January 2019