As a CNM in homebirth practice, I wish I had a good answer for you! I personally don't like ANY of the dopplers on the market that I've tried. They all seem to either be awkward to hold, awkward to keep a fix on the baby's FHT, the probes are long and bulky, the cords are phone-cord style which tangle and make it difficult to assure adequate disinfection between patients....I could go on and on.
So...I invested a goodly sum (about $3500) for a Philips FM-2 portable fetal monitor that only weighs about 5 lb and small enough to be very portable. It has waterproof leads, can be used for NSTs or continuous monitoring if clinically indicated. I use it for intermittent auscultation just like a doppler most of the time. It has an LED screen that shows the tracing, the screen is back lit so can use the instrument in a dark room and see just fine, the machine stores the tracings (up to 12 hours worth), you can download the traces onto a PC using the included software, and print out if desired on standard printer paper. If mom and dad are looking for a low profile midwifery presence, I can teach them to use the machine in a few seconds and they can take FHT and dad can bring them out to a nearby room and show me. Here is the link for a brochure with the specs on the FM 2.
I have heard from other midwives who really like using this or other similar portable monitors in this way. ( The Huntleigh Fetal Assist is a very nice looking product but a few thousand more than the FM 2) As a homebirth practitioner, it's also really nice to have this unit available in the very rare instances of urgent transport to hospital during labor. I can just strap it on and have my hands free to attend to mom as needed.
I know...I'm spoiled. I keep looking for the kind of doppler I want, but no one makes what I'm looking for. If I had the connections I would submit a design to one of the big companies! It needs to be waterproof, built like a mac truck, flat round waterproof transducer and no spiral cords to tangle up. But the cord needs to be long enough that I don't risk getting water on the non-waterproof part of the unit while taking FHT under water. It would have a good speaker that doesn't get static-y, an easy to read LED display that is reliably accurate and a reasonable price. Oh well, it's fun to dream! Let me know if you find anything 'out there' that is anywhere near what I'm looking for.
Many midwives like the Huntleigh Aqua dopplex...I don't because the probe is long and big, it has a spiral cord that tangles, and I've seen several of the cases crack and fall apart.
Have fun on your search,
Kim CPM CNM