Limiting Ultrasounds? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So with my first, I was (what I now consider) fairly clueless, although I did read a ton & attempt to educate myself the best I could- some things I never even considered. Like the safety of ultrasounds. I had about 6 with my first, which I regret. I'd like to limit ultrasounds to one, or better yet, even none- but I don't believe I could go the whole pregnancy without "checking in" once to make sure everything was seemingly okay.

 

Will you limit ultrasounds? Why or why not? I know with a HBMW you probably wouldn't have an US unless there was a good strong reason. We will be going with a wonderful, close-as-you-can-get-to-a-HBMW-in-a-CNM, and I'm not sure what her protocol is, but I'm guessing she's not big on unneccessary u/s either.

 

Thoughts?


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#2 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 11:21 AM
 
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A lot of HBMW can refer you to get an u/s if you'd like one.  If you're at a birth center with a CNM you can definitely get one if you'd like.  I believe in limiting u/s for sure and I decline the doppler as well.  There is some evidence that the continuous energy stream from the doppler is actually worse than the intermittent stream from an u/s.  However, the doppler is usually used for a much shorter period of time than an u/s.  You can start using a fetascope around 19 weeks.  It's pretty neat to hear your baby's actual heart beat instead of an electronic representation of it! 

 

I think moderation is key.  If you're feeling anxious, then get one!  I also think they are useful for a few things.  If you don't know your date then getting a dating u/s can be key to avoid worse interventions later on in your pregnancy (like inaccurate growth sonos or induction).  With my first pregnancy I read lots of stuff, but like you I realize now that I still didn't question everything that I should have.  I was just excited for the 20 week sono and finding out the gender.  It was the highlight of my entire pregnancy, which was marred by continuous nausea.  With my second I knew more and we debated, but we were going to have a fight over circumcision if we were having a boy so we decided to get the sono.  Sure enough, it was a boy and it was nice to have several months to sort out our feelings about circumcision and make a good decision without feeling rushed. 

 

With this pregnancy, I think we might not have any and be surprised with the gender!  Lots to think about!


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#3 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 11:53 AM
 
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I do plan on limiting. Not because I think they are unsafe, but because I had a terrible experience with my daughter. At our 20 week scan, tehy found a bunch of clinically insignificant soft markers for two major conditions, and basically diagnosed her without any founded reason to do so. They tried pushing invasive testing which I declined and she was born totally healthy and normal.

 

For that reason, I am declining any and all routine fetal testing. Too many false positives and it;s not worth the heartache for me.

 

I do have a dating scan on Friday to check to see if my dates or off and to make sure it's a singleton, because I am considering freebirth, and I have to know that. I won't be doing an anatomy scan this time around.


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#4 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsVyky View Post
For that reason, I am declining any and all routine fetal testing. Too many false positives and it;s not worth the heartache for me.

 

I agree about the false positives of prenatal testing!  I decline all other tests as well (12 week nuchal fold, quad screen, amnio, CVS, etc.).  I often have to explain myself to others and I always go with the "what would you do with the information?" tactic. 


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#5 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 03:15 PM
 
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We have always gotten ultrasounds without thinking twice. This time I am not going in for a viability scan (pretty commonplace after early losses around here), and may not seek prenatal care for the 20 week scan either.


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#6 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 04:02 PM
 
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I only had one ultrasound with our daughter and at the end of the day I really didn't enjoy the experience.  After being with our midwives, the ultrasound just seemed so "medical" and the technician was very cold and formal.  I am going to discuss the pros and cons of any ultrasounds at all with the midwives this time and unless there is a very good reason to have one at 20 weeks will likely opt out.  Of course, if there is a good reason at the end of the pregnancy, I will have one but I think that the point of "what will be done with this information" is a good one.  If the answer is "wait and see" (for example with low fluid levels or concerns about the baby's size) then I will likely question the need for an ultrasound at that point.    

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#7 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 05:09 PM
 
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I decline all routine prenatal testing. I had the 20 wk scan with my first, but no ultrasounds at all with my second. My HBMW is totally cool with this, but will refer me at any point if I want one or we feel one is indicated. I'm not sure when I'm due, but my MW is ok with monitoring other signs very closely to determine dates instead of an u/s, so that's probably the route we will go. I'm also seriously considering refusing the Doppler this time, too, except for maybe the first time, just to hear that heartbeat and be reassured. After that, I'll probably have her use the fetoscope.


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#8 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 05:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsVyky View Post
I do have a dating scan on Friday to check to see if my dates or off and to make sure it's a singleton, because I am considering freebirth, and I have to know that. I won't be doing an anatomy scan this time around.


I am considering a scan for the same reason and plan to talk to my mw about it when I see her in two weeks.  I'd like to see if I am close to the EDD I've calculated and I would like to make sure there's just one baby.  If there's 2, we'd have time to prep.  :)

 

I don't plan to do most other tests unless my mw feels there's a strong need.  She likes moms to have informed consent on tests and procedures.

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#9 of 24 Old 04-07-2011, 06:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by meesh933 View Post

I'm also seriously considering refusing the Doppler this time, too, except for maybe the first time, just to hear that heartbeat and be reassured. After that, I'll probably have her use the fetoscope.

 

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#10 of 24 Old 04-12-2011, 09:47 AM
 
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With my first, I had 3.  8 weeks, 20 weeks, and at 40 weeks.

 

With my second and third I just had 1 at 20 weeks, my dh is really uncomfortable with the idea of having none.  He likes to know the heart and brain are developing the way they should be since we have them at home.  I am thinking that is what I will do again, unless there is a good reason for another...


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#11 of 24 Old 04-12-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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I get a dating scan because I'm totally clueless since my periods were whacky with my breastfeeding cycles. I'll also be getting a gender scan even though I really wanted it to be a surprise this time. John will be in Afghanistan and when he leaves I won't even be really showing yet. He asked if we could find out the sex because he wants his own ways of associating with the pregnancy and I'm not going to tell him no. So I'll have three total, my first to make sure it wasn't a tubal which has been done, my dating next week, and then the later one.. If I go too far over I'll also get one because with Jack I had serious fluid issues and placenta issues which ended up with him having to 0's for breathing and color when he was born. I'm trying to trust my body again but I have some pretty serious trauma issues after his birth.. It's a process for sure.

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#12 of 24 Old 04-14-2011, 12:27 PM
 
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I'm not going to get an ultrasound this time unless I have a medical reason. 

 

With my first I had a few at 13 weeks because I had a ruptured appendix and and emergency appendectomy and they wanted to check on the baby.  Then I had another at 20 weeks.  With my second I had my ultrasound at 20 weeks and then they gave me a 4D ultrasound and when I saw how my baby was acting and felt him flipping around in my belly I decided in the ultrasound chair to never have one again unless I have to.

 

I've been reading about if ultrasounds are even necessary and they are supposedly only recommended when there is a medical risk or during an amnio etc.  I was also reading an article in Midwifery today that says routine and repeated ultrasounds MAY be the cause of the huge increase in autism.  And since just about half the nephews in my family are on the spectrum, I consider my kids to be "high risk" at getting autism and take extra steps to hopefully avoid helping them get autism.

 

 

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasoundrodgers.asp

 

I'm also going to have my midwife use the fetoscope when I'm far enough along.  I will have a listen to the heartbeat at 10 weeks and then at 14 weeks; after that I will wait until about 20 weeks for the fetoscope.


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#13 of 24 Old 04-14-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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I will be an ultrasound frequent flier.  I have a history of a long hospitalization and a preterm birth from incompetent cervix, so I have to get my cervix checked by ultrasound very very often.  They cant do manual exams, as to not irritate the cervix and cause it to open.  I actually see a specialist in a clinic that has an ultrasound machine in the check-up room, and they also check the heartbeat this way (since they are already there).  Its hardly routine, but those cervical lengths sure are comforting!  At least this way I know that if my cervix starts to open or shorter I will be treated for it right away, without having a long hospital visit.


 
 
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#14 of 24 Old 04-14-2011, 06:55 PM
 
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I definitely believe in limiting u/s in a pregnancy that has no worrisome signs. It seems like there are far too many false scares that have parents freaked out for nothing. And who really knows how many u/s are safe? I feel comfortable with a mid-pregnancy scan and if everything is ok, then no more. I'm also ok with no u/s. I've had pregnancies where I have had many more u/s than I would prefer (it seems like there is always a reason for a follow up!!) and with one pregnancy I decided to do no u/s. All of my kids have come out fine. I probably worried a lot less with the pregnancy that I had no u/s with. There just didn't seem to be a reason to have one. My first two, yes there were valid reasons. Baby #4 I couldn't stop worrying about the location of my placenta--I was concerned that it was lying over my c/s scar. It was just a gnawing feeling that would not go away. But the placenta was in the back and the u/s laid those fears to rest. To me, that was enough of a valid reason to do a mid-pregnancy scan. Not sure what we will do this time around yet though.


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#15 of 24 Old 04-15-2011, 02:23 PM
 
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We'll probably get one this time around, for a couple of reasons. I find that one at about 18 weeks (we've done this w/ 2 of our 3), really helps me to see baby and helps the kids to connect with the fact that there really is a babe in there. 

 

Also, purely pragmatically, we want to buy everything at the thrift store this time around (I got rid of everything after number 3), and if I can know ahead of time for gender, this is way easier. :)

 

No other screens though for us. Too many false positives, and we wouldn't do anything differently were there a positive. Also, I'm of the mindset that positive could really color mama's mental health during pregnancy, stress levels, etc, and I do believe that stuff has a real effect on baby's well being as well. :)

 

 

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#16 of 24 Old 04-18-2011, 11:54 AM
 
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#17 of 24 Old 05-04-2011, 10:26 AM
 
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We had 3 with our first child, 10 weeks (dating), 20 weeks (scan) and 41 weeks to make sure she had enough fluid to stay in there (she ended up coming 10 days "late").  This time we were concerned there may have been multiples (which runs on my maternal side) so we had a dating U/S to see if I was just measuring large, if my dates were off, or if there was more than one.  Just one was found, right on target.  But, I will be getting the 20 week scan, not only to discover gender, but I like the idea of making sure the organs are there.  My friend had to terminate a 2nd trimester baby last year because the major organs did not develop.  The chances are VERY unlikely, but I'd rather know we're in the clear!  I believe in limiting them, just because it can be so unnecessary, and we would have waited until the 20 week scan if my midwives didn't seem so concerned about my measuring 5 weeks ahead.

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#18 of 24 Old 05-05-2011, 05:04 AM
 
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sexysisam, thanks for the article link. I found that article's information about connections between international use of ultrasound and corresponding rates of autism very troubling. I'm also somewhat concerned that the article mentioned no benefit, and possible fetal harm, from use of doppler for heartbeat. I interviewed four homebirth midwives in the Bay Area before realizing I would be moving, and each of them said they used a hand-held doppler to periodically monitor fetal heartrate, yet if I am understanding this article, that may not be safe either. I wish there were more research looking into the correlations!

 


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#19 of 24 Old 05-05-2011, 06:49 AM
 
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There is some evidence that the continuous energy stream from the doppler is actually worse than the intermittent stream from an u/s.  However, the doppler is usually used for a much shorter period of time than an u/s.  You can start using a fetoscope around 19 weeks.  It's pretty neat to hear your baby's actual heart beat instead of an electronic representation of it! 


 

nmouse: above is what I found when I looked into these things.  So I decline the doppler as much as I can, opting for the fetoscope.  My last mw was fine with this even through labor.  She managed to find the hb with the fetoscope between contractions when she first arrived.  I know that it can be difficult to use the fetoscope during labor b/c of the thickened uterine wall and the fact that you have to lie there, still, a little longer than with a doppler.  But since we are moving soon to another state, I will be using a different mw and all of the ones I've interviewed so far require FHT checks every 30 minutes during active labor and every 15 during transition.  UGH!  I hate that for me and for the baby, but I doubt a fetoscope would work well for that amount of monitoring for either of us.  So I guess I'll just have to suck it up!


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#20 of 24 Old 05-05-2011, 10:34 PM
 
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I had never heard of fetoscopes before this thread. Funnily enough, my partner just bought a stethoscope and then eagerly plied my belly with it, trying to hear a heartbeat. All he got was some gas gurgling. I told him about the fetoscope though and I bet he gets one before the month is out. I guess I will add "can we skip some or all of the doppler monitoring & ultrasounds" to my list for when I interview Sacramento midwives. 


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#21 of 24 Old 05-06-2011, 05:48 AM
 
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I had two ultrasounds with my last one and I'll probably end up with two this time, too, since I already had one for dating.  My cycles were all messed up from BFing so I didn't know my due date for sure.  They tried to just go by my LMP but I had a feeling that wasn't right.  I ended up being two weeks earlier than I thought so I'm glad I got it because I don't want to be pressured for an induction two weeks early.  

 

OP, I'm not sure what I would do in your situation.  Six ultrasounds seems like a lot but it really depends on WHY you got them.  I don't know if I missed it but I don't think you mentioned your reasons. Maybe in your case, it was worth it to get all of them.  

 

I have family members who had autism and have done quite a bit of research into it.  I really don't believe that ultrasounds cause autism, but I guess I can't guarantee anything for you so you do what makes you comfortable.  I can tell you that as a teacher, I see many kids who are diagnosed on the spectrum, who as early as 15 years ago, would not have been diagnosed with Autism.  I know it might not explain the entire dramatic increase but I really think it explains a lot of it.  I have two cousins who were never diagnosed with anything but were always regarded as "different" from the other kids.  One of them has since been diagnosed with Autism as an adult and the other one just continues to live his life and has quite a bit of social difficulty.  

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#22 of 24 Old 05-06-2011, 05:51 AM
 
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So far we are planning for just one at 18 weeks to discover the gender.


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#23 of 24 Old 05-07-2011, 07:07 PM
 
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I didn't have any ultrasounds with DS, who has autism, btw.  I think it's a pretty big stretch to attribute a rise in autism to ultrasounds.  But it seems to me that people are really grasping at straws to find a cause for autism so they can stamp it out.  I think our time and effort would be better spent finding better ways to help autistic people function more easily in this world, and educating people about what it's like to have autism so that autistic people are accepted and accommodated more in our society and they are treated as people (often highly gifted people) whose brains just happen to work differently from ours.  Anyway, back to ultrasounds... 

 

When I was a surrogate I had a ton, because that's pretty much how things go with assisted reproduction.  Wasn't my call, I was just along for the ride. :)

 

I wasn't planning on ultrasounds with this one, either (or maybe just the 20-week scan, at most), but unfortunately I ended up in the ER at 5.5 weeks with excruciating lower abdominal pain and, of course, I had an ultrasound.  Turns out I have a giant cyst on my right ovary.  I had a second ultrasound at 8.5 weeks, as the cyst seemed to be getting bigger (it was).  

 

I'm going to get the 12 and 20 week scans.  That's what the perinatologist I saw at 8.5 weeks recommended.  I'm relieved she didn't recommend more.  At this point, keeping an eye on the cyst is a much bigger priority to me than avoiding ultrasound exposure.  I'm doing acupuncture now, so I'm hoping that my 12 week scan (I'm 10 weeks) shows some shrinkage.  If it keeps getting bigger it has an increased risk of twisting, which probably means emergency surgery. :(

 

Honestly, I would avoid them if I could, but I'm really not too worried about adverse effects.  I don't think that the 95+% of babies being born in this country (and many parts of the world) are being irreparably harmed by ultrasound exposure.

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#24 of 24 Old 05-08-2011, 07:46 AM
 
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I'm almost 11.5 weeks and I've had 3 official U/S.  One at 5.5 weeks (twins were diagnosed) and a second at 7.5 weeks for the early dating scan.  My OB also checked during my first prenatal visit and said that she will likely use an U/S to check for the FHR each time I go.  If it's between an U/S under less than 5 minutes vs. 10 or more minutes of a doppler rooting around for 2 heartbeats, I think the U/S is less invasive and less disruptive to my womb IMHO.

 

I've had losses and I work as an L&D nurse so when I'm feeling anxious, I've had some colleagues quickly check to make sure everything's okay.  I envision my anxiety will subside dramatically once I have my 12 week Nuchal Translucency test.  I wish I didn't have so many U/S, but there is no clear cut evidence stating it's harmful so I will likely get plenty of them being that I'm pregnant with twins.

 

I do think there is a value to having at least one U/S around 20 weeks.  If there are significant problems with your baby - wouldn't you want to be close to a hospital/NICU that could potentially provide lifesaving care?  To grow a baby (or two) for nine months and live with the uncertainty that a major anomaly couldnt be diagnosed and treated promptly only because I didn't get an U/S is more responsibility than I'd like to bear.  Granted, there are several "insignificant" false positives that could lead to other interventions, but if my baby had a major heart defect or gastroschisis, I'd certainly want to know.


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