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On Ultrasounds.

I had my first ultrasound last week at 22 weeks and finally got to see this little bebé. Just look at that profile 😍

Ultrasounds replaced X-rays to confirm pregnancy back in the 1960’s. We now know xrays are dangerous to the fetus and are rarely used during pregnancy. Ultrasound technology uses ultra high frequency sound waves to generate image. The sound waves are above the level of human hearing. Ultrasound was once solely used as a screening device to look for high risk conditions but now is used routinely to confirm pregnancy as well as multiple times throughout; and the truth is effects of ultrasound on a developing baby are largely unknown. My personal attitude is that if it’s not medically necessary and there is potential risk, then why?

Having an ultrasound done so early in pregnancy solely to confirm makes me nervous and for myself, has seemed unnecessary. Because I choose to birth at home I prefer to have one ultrasound done around 20 weeks, just to give me peace of mind that everything is as it should be so I feel comfortable proceeding with a home birth, but did you know that ultrasounds are elective? Yep, that’s right. They are not mandatory during pregnancy, and my midwives leave it solely up to me. I found a great article with a list of pros and cons (will share in stories) that may help you consider when and how often to have ultrasounds done during pregnancy.

Reasons to consider ultrasound:

* Confirm early pregnancy using a vaginal ultrasound.

* Detect multiple births.

* Calculate due date through measurements of fetus’ skull, femur, or crown-rump length (done in second trimester).

* Inspect fetal organs for growth and development.

* Check gender.

* Verify fetal position and breech presentation.

* Inspect the placenta and placement.

* Many expectant parents are excited to see the ultrasound including the 4D sonogram technology that makes it possible to clearly see a baby close up.

Risks of ultrasound:

* “The long term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known.

* It is recommended that ultrasound only be used if medically indicated.* (American Pregnancy Association).

*40% of abnormalities are missed or go undetected according to a recent study in Brisbane.

* Causes anxiety and stress for parents who are given abnormal results or false positive findings.

* Ultrasound heats the tissue and researchers suspect that the waves cause small local gas pockets which vibrate and collapse called cavitation. The gas can reach temperatures up to thousands of degrees (Celsium) leading to production of potentially toxic chemical reactions.

* Studies done on mice have shown intestinal bleeding caused by changes in the cells. Scientists conclude that there would be similar effects in humans.

* Ultrasound has been linked to the following abnormalities:

- Left handedness in children who are supposed to be right-handed. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with being left-handed, the change is attributed to subtle damage to the brain. Males are more affected than female fetuses, probably because the male brain develops later.

- Early labor, premature birth, miscarriage, low birth weight, poorer health at birth, and perinatal death.

- Increased learning disabilities, epilepsy, delayed speech development, dyslexia.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert on ultrasound and have largely learned what I do know from my midwives, nursing school, and my own research.


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