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Disappointing ultrasound experience

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I went in for my first US today for my baby boy! Yay! Very excited to know the gender and I think everything is good, so that part is OK.


However, I was very disappointed in the overall experience. It was conducted in the hospital, which I understand will be a different experience than my previous experience, who was a sonographer who travelled from place to place and had his main office in the same building as the birthing center where I gave birth. However, even he was not exclusively an OB sonographer.


First of all, I was very disappointed that because we had our young daughter with us, it was not allowed for my husband and my daughter to come view the US. I was told that if I have a future US, which will probably happen, that my husband can be allowed as long as we have child care arrangements and she is not there.


But even further, the screen was turned so that it was not ever visible to me during the US, only to the technician. It was so hurtful to hear their comments and laughter about the baby's movements and not be able to see them myself. In fact, I haven't seen any of this baby's movements at all.


I am assuming by most of the commentary that everything is fine, but the technician was very unresponsive on almost all of my questions. The purpose was a dating US because I was measuring a bit ahead of schedule, and when I asked how development looked (DD also measured ahead, but even US put her development a little ahead of schedule, as well), she flat out told me that they wouldn't be able to tell that by US - even though that was the very reason it was ordered! It was also the reason for both of my US in my previous pregnancy, and that technician had NO problem with offering information on developmental milestones/dating.


They do not do any kind of motion recording, and only offered me three still photos that they printed out from the US. I have two disks with tons of images and short videos from the two US I got during my first pregnancy.


At least, when they asked me if I wanted to know the gender and I asked if they could wait and tell me and my husband together, they did this so he found out at the same time I did.


Has anyone ever had a similar experience? I was shocked and hurt - even during my one miscarriage which was kind of a sudden thing for me, the doctor showed me the US screen and explained what he was seeing, even though then I really didn't feel like I wanted or needed to see any of the US images. So I was taken completely aback by this experience today.

post #2 of 16

I had a very similar experience during my 20 wk ultrasound with my DD. It especially sucked as the main reason we decided to go ahead with it was so that DH would be able to bond with the baby a bit more. He came prepared with a USB key and was so excited, it was extremely disappointing for him. Needless to say if we end up doing an ultrasound with #2 I will be calling places ahead of time and trying to find reviews to see how they do it. Oh, and it was a standalone clinic that we went to.


However I was told upfront by my midwife that they likely wouldn't tell me anything that they learned during the ultrasound for liability reasons or something like that. The information is always passed to the midwife and she then can tell you. Apparently some techs won't even tell you the sex of the baby (ours was ok with doing that).

post #3 of 16

My experience with ultrasounds (I'm in Ontario, Canada) is that the tech is not legally allowed to tell you much at all. They have big signs all over the room saying that the information will be passed to your care provider who will talk to you about it. My tech (I've had the same one for my 2 u/s with DD, and 3 so far this pregnancy) always has the screen turned away during the initial measurements and then when she's done she let's me see the screen and shows me a few things. I get usually 3 still photos to take home and that's it - never any motion recordings or CD's. No one else is allowed in the room until the tech has completed her measurements, then they allow family in for the last few minutes so we can all see the baby together. It seems like everyone has very different experiences with this process - so if there is something in particular you are looking for I guess you do just need to ask around.

post #4 of 16
I'm so sorry that happened to you! That was not my experience and it's good to know that ultasound experiences can vary.

It sounds like this was a 2nd trimester US? It is my understanding that at that point, dating can have a week or more margin of error, so it is just one clue for your provider to combine with other factors in making an educated guess. This may be why the tech did not want to discuss it. Not letting you see the screen just seems mean, though.

When I went to the hospital for a NST late in pregnancy, I was told that my husband and son couldn't accompany me into the room. When we insisted, I was surprised by how gracious they were about flexing their policy for us. The same thing happened when I was in labor and they wanted to separate us for triage. I just told the nurse no, he is my support person, and they made an exception.

I mean, what would they have done if just you and your daughter showed up? Lots of people don't have childcare for every US and wanting her to be a part of it is totally understandable. This may be a good opportunity for you to practice asserting yourself and see if the hospital is willing to work with you on something minor (where it has nothing to do with the safety of your baby) before you give birth there!
Edited by myra1 - 8/21/13 at 11:29am
post #5 of 16
Yeah, I think your experience is not that uncommon. I'm pg with my third baby, and I've never had motion recording, children are frequently prohibited from u/s rooms, and techs are restricted as to what they can/should say to you, though some break that rule. I've also had u/s where no images were provided for me after the fact.

I know we look forward to it as a chance to see our baby and make memories; but it really is a medical test, and the techs have to focus on their job and not our experience. hug2.gif
post #6 of 16
The fact is, an ultrasound is a medical diagnostic screening/test. It's nice when the provider makes the effort to make it special or fun, but that's a bonus-not the nature of the scan-especially in a hospital setting.

There are countless freestanding ultrasound offices that specialize in pregnancy ultrasound for the purposes of being memorable where you can bring whomever you like and they do video and countless photos- and prices are quite competitive these days.
post #7 of 16
I have to comment on the posters saying it is really just a medical test: that is absolutely true. HOWEVER, that is not how they are marketed to us in the United States. If they were, they would only be used when medically indicated. Instead, they are routinely paid for by insurance, used liberally, and many healthy women agree to them mainly for reassurance, bonding, finding out the gender, etc.

If they were not so enjoyable, more moms would question their necessity, doctors would be forced to present an individual need case, and it might not be such big business. The second poster said herself that bonding was the main reason she gave consent, so I definitely think that she deserved that benefit from the experience, and it is reasonable to expect in our society. At the very least, mom and the father/sibling should be able to see the screen.
Edited by myra1 - 8/22/13 at 11:37am
post #8 of 16
I understand the ultrasonographer not being allowed to tell you the interpretation of the ultrasound, but I don't understand why you weren't allowed to look at the screen. That's pretty weird.
post #9 of 16

They can be so insensitive.  They do it so often that it just becomes some crass exercise that is part of their job, unfortunately.  I think they become hardened as well.  I dread going for mine because that happened to me last time as well.  They were irritated that the baby would not turn for them.  I had to offer to get up and walk around as opposed to her prodding my uterus impatiently. I could have wrung her damn neck.  It's rare to get a sensitive practitioner.  I'm sorry you had to go through that disappointment.  Hugs to you!

post #10 of 16
Wow, I didn't even know motion recording was an option. We never had any of that, but I guess at least we never had the let down of wanting it and not getting it.

Our first ultrasound was at the doc's office and the tech had the screen facing her at the beginning so she could get right into the measurements and viability check. But, A) she told DW exactly where to stand so that she could see the screen too and B) she let me know right away that she could see a heartbeat even though the sound was off at that point. Being able to see DW's face as she watched the screen was super reassuring to me, almost as good as seeing it myself. Eventually when her work was done the tech turned the screen for me to see and printed a few quick pics. It wasn't super personal but I had nothing to compare it to.

The other two u/s that we did were both at the hospital, different setting. They used a dual-screen so that one was facing the bed for me to see always, and the tech had her own screen to do her work. Again not super personal but quick to communicate basic vitals - heart beat, presence of other organs, etc. Any question I asked was usually answered with a general, "looks normal to me but the doc will review it".

I have since transferred to a practice that does a lot less monitoring and I definitely prefer it. A Doppler with a quick heartbeat confirmation is just as reassuring to me now as all those pokes and pics were, and a lot less anxiety producing.
post #11 of 16
I understand not getting a motion recording, that's unusual honestly, and I do understand if they refuse or are hesitant to share information as that is supposed to be done by the doctor, though a lot of techs do share stuff. However, not showing you the screen I don't get and I would have been pissed about that too, every place I've gotten an ultrasound they either position the screen so I (and DH if he was with me) can see and they often have a second screen that is for Mom & partner & whoever else to see. Yes, ultrasounds are ultimately a diagnostic tool, but they are also a great way for parents to bond with their baby and it is very expected in the US to have that experience. (Not that everyone wants to bond over ultrasound, some folks don't like them, but most people do and everyone should be given the opportunity to see the screen. The only time I can see hiding the screen is to prepare someone for something before showing it like a miscarriage or multiples and making sure they want to see.)

Not allowing your DD in sucks and I really think since you had DH there to watch her, that it should have been allowed, but it may be hospital policy, who knows! I would always ask if I wanted to bring a child along though because a lot of folks have policies or pretend to if you don't clear it ahead of time unfortunately.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

While I was definitely disappointed that no motion recording options were offered, it was only a small fraction of the overall sense of disappointment about the entire US.


As one PP mentioned about having to get up and walk to get baby into position, I didn’t even think of asking to do this. The US tech was VERY rough in getting baby into the positions she wanted, and even paused to ask me at one point to make certain I hadn’t had a CS with my previous pregnancy (no, you don’t have to worry so much about rupturing my uterus,  but there’s a placenta in there that I’d like to keep where it is, thank you very much!).


And it was very hurtful to not see the screen myself and see the baby move at all. I understand that it is a medical test, but during a previous medical US for a miscarriage and cyst, when only the cyst was visible, I was shown the screen and everything was explained to me – as well as several people I have talked to who have had US unrelated to pregnancy (for kidneys, etc.) have said the same – they were shown everything during the US, even though they didn’t really “care” to see! There have been some comments about the techs being “hardened” or just “doing their jobs” but this didn’t even seem to be the case, as they kept making “ooh and ah” type comments about what the baby was doing. While this might have been for my benefit, it really hurt me more to feel like someone else was watching and admiring my baby but it was something that I wasn’t being allowed to see.


I’ll be sure that we have child care if another US is scheduled, so that at least DH can see the screen if it is not made an option to me. I’m also considering talking this over with my midwives to see if it is common at the hospital – but no one I’ve talked to who has used the same hospital has had the same experience. I don’t know if it was exclusive to this one individual tech – some people had used the same hospital fairly recently (for example, I talked to a woman with a 6 month old in the waiting room of the clinic at my last appt, and she said that her older son –  less than a year when she received her US – wasn’t allowed in, but she and her husband got to see it), and some were even non-pregnancy US and they said they did NOT have the same experience.


I would still have consented to the US if I had been told that I wouldn’t be able to see it. But I do think that it’s pretty standard in the US that there is an expectation that the screen will be visible during at least part of the procedure (whether it is for a pre-natal US or even just another medical issue), so if this truly is standard practice, there should be some notice given that “This is a medical procedure, and there will be no effort made for you to see the test while it is being performed. However, you will receive still images afterward.” It does appear to me that my experience was different than most, even different than most who have received US at the same facility, for some reason.

post #13 of 16
So, wait - they were oohing and ahhing at your baby and you asked to see the screen and they said no?! I would call that cruel.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

I was so upset at how things were going differently  – honestly, I never asked to see the screen. It never occurred to me that I might have to ask to see the screen at the time, as I was so upset. But it did not appear that the screen was on any type of turntable or was such that it could be angled for a patient’s viewing, and the positioning of the bed did not allow for visibility of the screen unless it were moved somehow. There were three separate US rooms, and the one I was in contained three “stations” at which US was performed divided by internal walls and curtains. Perhaps other US rooms are more commonly used for the pre-natals than this area I was in and are set up differently, as well, as I haven’t even found anyone locally who seems to have had a similar experience.

post #15 of 16
Oh, so sorry mama! While a good reminder to us all to advocate for ourselves during the prenatal care process, it is totally understandable that you were upset. I would definitely submit a complaint to your care provider and/or the hospital where this happened. Someone in this line of work should know better - you don't coo over someone else's kid without sharing the joy with them! So insensitive.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Sphinxy! The experience has definitely raised my awareness, especially since at the time I was so upset by all the differences that I didn’t even think straight to ask (or demand, if necessary) that I see the screen during the US. I am glad that it really was just an issue of hurt feelings and disappointment this time, but I will come out of it ready to be an advocate for myself during this pregnancy and in the future when I just don’t feel like things are “right.”

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