Today is our anatomy scan, I am 19 weeks pregnant and we can go get a scan to tell us if baby is growing right and the big one… the gender!!
A lot of people think I am crazy for waiting this long, when it’s so easy to go to a recreational ultrasound center and tell the gender at 14 weeks. But here’s the thing… I’m not even sure I want the “normal” doctors office ones most of the time.
I know, I’m really getting weird with this “natural” stuff, right?
The following are reasons why most people get ultrasounds, and then my contrary thoughts. What are your thoughts?
1. Dating scan - we have to know how far along you are in your pregnancy when it’s new.
Yes, this is true…. mostly. When I got pregnant with my son, I was charting. I knew that I had 32 day cycles, not 28 day. I knew exactly when I ovulated (which was cycle day 19 not 14, like the “due date chart” assumes). Therefore, the “last menstrual period” date was not accurate, but my charting date was AND the dating scan proved that. However, my water still broke at 38 weeks and I still delivered a perfectly healthy baby. So, a general knowledge of dating is important for prenatal care, however, knowing that you’re 8 weeks and 3 days pregnant but only measuring at 8 weeks and 1 day is worrying to most new moms and really for no reason at all.
This time, I didn’t have a period so therefore I had no way to “date” my pregnancy (except my best guess, based on my body and guessing when we conceived). So I guess it was a little bit more important this time.
2. Make sure everything is ok
Most of the time, everything is ok. And then there are the times where they tell you something is not ok (or you get that great pause and hmmm sound from the tech) and they need to do further testing. Most of the stories I’ve heard like this have turned out fine, and it was an error on the part of the machine or the tech or just saw something a little off, but hey turns out not all moms and babies are the same. I had several friends leave their 20 week scan thinking their baby had down syndrome, only to be tested further and have perfectly healthy babies. I had a hemmorage at my early scan with this baby, that no matter how much my midwife assured me it was normal, I googled to find out I could miscarry. It completely cleared itself up and by my next visit it was gone. The only thing that knowing about it did was make me worry. There is nothing I could have done differently. So, maybe sometimes too much information really gives us unneeded anxiety?
3. Knowing the gender… oh that magical thing.
I admit. I’m an over-achieving, control freak. I need to plan everything. I need to know everything. So, I want to know the gender… and like NOW. But is it worth it? I’ll get into that in a minute, when I talk about the medical studies on ultrasound. But we might not find out the gender for future kids, and maybe we won’t have anatomy scans at all.
4. It’s fun to see the baby.
Again, is that worth it?
Is It Worth It
They used to use x-rays to view baby, until there was a study done showing that x-ray caused cancer to babies who were viewed in utero. In the 1970s ultrasounds gained popularity after being introduced by a Scotish OB who borrowed a machine that was used for detecting flaws in metal and used it on a pregnant woman – with no scientific evidence of its safety. By 1980, they had become routine in most countries.
The FDA does not have control over the amount of sonic energy that can be emitted by the new ultrasound machines. There are no federal or state regulations requiring calibration of the machines, written consent from the pregnant woman, indications for the procedures, the amount of exposure, the types of machines used, or the qualification of the sonographer.
Research about the safety of ultrasound is limited, and ultrasound has not been around long enough to know if there are any long term problems or risks. (Personal opinion inserted here: What about the increase in ADD or ADHD? Autism? Childhood cancer?)
Although there have been several, no study has ever shown routine use of ultrasound to improve fetal or maternal condition over using only when medically indicated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) on Ultrasonography in Pregnancy says this:
Ultrasonography in pregnancy should be performed only when there is a valid medical indication. ACOG (2009) stated, “The use of either two-dimensional or three-dimensional ultrasonography only to view the fetus, obtain a picture of the fetus, or determine the fetal sex without a medical indication is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice.
I think knowing this, it makes sense to consider how having ultrasounds (especially repeatedly) will benefit you and your baby. This is just another one of those medical procedures that we just accept as normal, because everyone else does it, without considering the orgin, the research and the safety of it… as well as the necessity.
I don’t need to know my baby’s gender. But it’s fun! And I am quite sure I will walk out of that office today with a bit more peace knowing my baby is healthy and has all his or her fingers and toes. I just don’t know if getting them for fun is for me.
Do you get recreational ultrasounds? Do you skip all ultrasounds altogether? I’d love to hear other people’s perspectives on why or why not!
Keep thinking and learning mamas!