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Avoiding unnecessary ultrasound - Doppler?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi!
My dr routinely does two ultrasounds- one at your first appt to get a due date and another at 18 weeks. I have seen the studies that indicate ultrasound might affect a babies brain (more left handedness etc), but I'm comfortable with having two. Today it dawned on me that my dr also listens to the baby's heart beat at each appt with a doppler and doesn't that also use ultrasound? Does anyone have any information about doppler like whether it is essentially the same affect on the baby as an ultrasound or is it a lower intensity or anything? I know sometimes midwives use a fetoscope after 20 wks to hear the heart beat but I don't think that's an option with my dr. Any info?
thanks!
post #2 of 15
I don't have any info, but I'd also be interested in hearing some if anyone has any to offer? My doc office wants to do an ultrasound for me next week for "viability" at 8 weeks. I'm a little hesitant.
post #3 of 15
My understanding is that minute-for-minute, doppler is actually exposing your baby to more ultrasound radiation since it emits continuous waves rather than intermittent like a visual ultrasound.
post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nashvillemidwife View Post
My understanding is that minute-for-minute, doppler is actually exposing your baby to more ultrasound radiation since it emits continuous waves rather than intermittent like a visual ultrasound.
Then what is a preferred method for listening to baby's heart at visits?
post #5 of 15
Doppler is a continous wave while a ultrasound is a pulsed wave so you get more exposure with a doppler. I just request that my MW uses a fetascope to hear the heartbeat. They have no problem with this. See if you Dr will do the same for you.

Also if you have charted your temps then you can probably avoid the first ultrasound. I have mine charted really well so I know the date with in +or-24hrs so no dating ultrasound was needed.
post #6 of 15
I am getting more scans than I care to admit here, I have to have them, but everyone I speak to says they are safe, same with the doppler

There is a chance any baby will have issues, even with no scans

I'd try not to worry too much, they can both be helpful for picking up preventable problems
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaVolpe View Post
Doppler is a continous wave while a ultrasound is a pulsed wave so you get more exposure with a doppler. I just request that my MW uses a fetascope to hear the heartbeat. They have no problem with this. See if you Dr will do the same for you.
: I only had doppler twice this entire pregnancy, when I asked for it for various reasons.
post #8 of 15
A fetoscope is a special stethoscope designed to hear the fetal heartbeat. The drawbacks are that you can't hear the heart beat with it until 16-18 weeks, and then only one listener at a time. If the tubing is long enough the mom can listen while the midwife holds the bell on her belly.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't expect your doctor to even have one, let alone know how to use it. I've worked with midwives who have never even used one.

I find that most moms want to hear the heart beat with the doppler. I am sure to palpate the baby really well so that I know where to find it right away, and then only as long as it takes to get a count and assure mom that the baby is healthy.

There is no actual evidence that ultrasound is harmful, just theoretical. However, it's not been in use or studied long enough for me to feel that it's been proven safe either. I wouldn't have any qualms at all about using the doppler or having an ultrasound if it was necessary, but if there's a known safe alternative I'll take it.
post #9 of 15
We decline all u/s and doppler in pregnancy. From my research neither does anything to improve outcomes.

I do allow doppler in labor if needed.

-Angela
post #10 of 15
I do prefer to use the doppler in labor. There are quite definite benefits versus theoretical risks, and with only hours to go before birth I don't think it can hurt even if the risk is real.
post #11 of 15
We are also limiting doppler exposure along with not doing ultrasounds. I have had it used twice, very briefly, because of concerns about lack of movement and what not, but will be going with fetoscope from here on out -- luckily I have a midwife that knows how to use one.

I'd imagine a mainstream doc would probably look at me like I'd grown a 3rd eye if I mentioned it -- but I'd happily be a three-eyed patient to get my way.
post #12 of 15
With this preg (our third) we have declined to use a doppler, and our mw is perfectly comfortable with using a fetoscope instead. Added benefit - no lubed belly. We did have one ultrasound - the OB who did it was great about keeping it short. If the mw wants to use doppler during labor we would be flexible about that, since we want it to be as easy as possible to monitor the baby then so we can concentrate on the labor.

The risk is small, but from the studies I've seen it is probably real - so better to be safe. There is really no reason, in most pregnancies, to do more than one u/s, and fetoscopes work perfectly well (though you can't hear the heartbeat until much later in the pregnancy - this didn't bother me but others might be more anxious, especially if they have had complications in the past).

On the other hand, since the risk is small, if your doctor is absolutely opposed to limiting doppler use I wouldn't worry overmuch about it.
post #13 of 15
I found one page that talks about the frequency and intensity of several kinds of ultrasound:
http://www.birth.com.au/Info.asp?class=6610%20&page=1#

Handheld doppler "tends to use lower intensities than 'diagnostic' abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds but has continuous sound waves, like 'Doppler' ultrasound". It also explains on a further page (if you hit next a few times) that higher frequencies of ultrasound (as in sound wave frequencies) can produce increases in temperature and that is part of why abdominal and vaginal ultrasound is intermittent, since it is done at a higher frequency than doppler. Apparently doppler can be done continuously because there is not the risk of increased temperature.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nashvillemidwife View Post
I've worked with midwives who have never even used one.
i have been wondering about this because i have decided i wish to no longer use doppler to check the fetal heart beat during my prenatal appts with my midwives, but i haven't called and asked them if they know how to use a fetoscope. i hope that if they haven't they will be fine with me not wanting to use doppler.
post #15 of 15
I have declined both u/s and doppler during this pg. My mw is fine with that, and uses a fetoscope. We will try to use the fetoscope during labor, but if it is difficult (e.g., I can't hold still long enough, etc.), I would be okay with using doppler very briefly.

My primary reasons are that while pg with my dd, she always "ran away" from the doppler. In hindsight, it makes sense to me that she didn't like it. Maybe it was painful or uncomfortable, or whatever. So in addition to the studies that show it might be harmful, I made this choice more because I think babies have shown they don't like it (I hear about lots of babies who run away from doppler).

I feel the same about u/s. During my first u/s with dd, I could feel it on my skin and it was extremely unpleasant. It didn't dawn on me then to consider her experience, but I think about it now.

What I find out from u/s and doppler is not worth it for me to expose my baby to that. I want my womb to be a safe, comfortable and protected space.
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