Who's not having an ultrasound? And what are the pros/cons in your opinion? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 33 Old 02-14-2011, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am wondering about this more than my last pregnancy. This will be my second home birth with my awesome, very non-invasive midwife. What are the most common things that you find are comforting about this non-approach and what are they really looking for in there that is of real concern to normal previous birthers and births?

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#2 of 33 Old 02-14-2011, 06:04 PM
 
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I'm not having an ultrasound this pregnancy.  My first, I had four, second, I had two.  This is my first homebirth, though.  I've really been ok with it up until a few weeks ago when I started letting people's comments (mostly my mother) get to me.  I'm starting to feel better about it, although in some ways it would be nice to have some peace of mind that things are really and truly ok.  I know that statistically they are, but I'm still having a bit of trouble wrapping my brain around that.  For me, this is a process of letting go that I'm trying to do throughout my life. 

 

My biggest concerns:  mainly that something is wrong that could be life-threatening.  Again, statistically not high, but I can't help to go through the what-ifs.  My previous two pregnancies and children were 'normal' (although, trust me, there are days when I think my kids are anything but normal!  haha!). 


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#3 of 33 Old 02-14-2011, 06:10 PM
 
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This will be my 9th HB. I had tons w/ my tons, two w/ my third and I haven't had any w/ the rest of them, except w/ my 10th. I had very heavy bleeding at 11 weeks, dh insisted I go to ER. Anyway, never had another U/S after the ER confirmed a subchorionic hemorrhage. Anyway, ehhh I found w/ my twins that U/S can induce more anxiety than they alleviate and there feels to be this hunt to find something wrong, which usually is nothing.


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#4 of 33 Old 02-15-2011, 05:59 PM
 
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I'm not having one unless the midwife suspects something weird.  I had 2 with my first, and it was nice to know everything was ok, but I don't really think u/s is necessary in most cases.  I thought about having one just to make sure there were no observable factors that would risk me out of a homebirth, but I also feel fairly content not having one--I'm not convinced they're 100% safe, and often they indicate problems that don't end up as problems.  So, I guess I'm just "letting go" with this one.

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#5 of 33 Old 02-15-2011, 09:21 PM
 
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I didn't have any ultrasounds with my 2 previous pregnancies and I'm not having one this time.  I don't see a reason to have one when there is no history of problems to be looking out for.  If something happened and my midwife thought I should have one I would take her advice, but I'm not having one just to see whats in there.  I already know I'm pregnant!  Plus I'm not convinced they're 100% safe and don't want to expose the baby to anything uneccessarily. 


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#6 of 33 Old 02-16-2011, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies~I guess that is what I am wondering about, what things are found that can effect a home birth situation?

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#7 of 33 Old 02-16-2011, 05:29 PM
 
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The big things they might find in an ultrasound that can risk you out of a homebirth (that I can think of) are:

 

- serious fetal abnormalities (brain/heart/organ problems where the babe would require a NICU or lifesaving surgery immediately after birth)

- cord or placental problems that could put you at risk for severe bleeding (such as complete placenta previa, or a true velamentous insertion of the cord)

 

I'm at a loss in this pregnancy as to whether I want to do an ultrasound as well.  On the one hand, I think that it's great for midwives and mamas to know about things ahead of time.  But on the other hand, it seems like the above problems are frequently misdiagnosed, and mamas either spend months worrying, or end up in the hospital for no reason.  It's a really hard decision (at least for me).


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#8 of 33 Old 02-17-2011, 12:40 AM
 
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I chose not to have an US and this will be my first baby and first HB. There are still physicians out there that don't routinely do them. The big thing for me is that there is no evidence that routine US screenings equate better birth outcomes. They are great for things like twins, suspected injuries or any other problems that arise during a pregnancy. I think, in the end, they can create more false negatives and anxiety when used as a routine screen, whereas they are a great asset to checking in on something concerning. Thats my thought on that!

 

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#9 of 33 Old 02-17-2011, 11:23 AM
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There was a HUGE thread on this subject this summer.  We didn't have any with our son, and I never questioned the benefits.  i did question the benefits this time, and I thought of getting a quick scan just to look at the heart.  The heart is the one thing I was concerned with b/c the stats are much higher than I though - 1 in 150 or so.  However, I am delivering in a hospital very close to the children's hospital, and I also read that not all heart defects are found with ultrasound.  So we decided to still not get any.  If I were having a homebirth, I would.

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#10 of 33 Old 02-17-2011, 10:36 PM
 
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I think it's important to weigh the risks and benefits and make the decision based on how you are feeling about it. TRUST YOUR INTUITION. With my last pregnancy, I wasn't planning on having any ultrasounds, but I just had this feeling that I NEEDED to know that everything was ok before we went ahead with a homebirth.  Basically, I was doing fear-release work as I approached my third trimester and realized that the fear of something being wrong with the baby would hold me back in labor, and I would probably end up needing to transfer because of it. I kept telling myself the fears were unfounded, and trying to brush aside that feeling that I needed to know for sure everything was ok, praying and having faith/trusting the process; I wasn't at risk for anything, all outward signs showed it was a perfect, textbook pregnancy. Finally I followed my intuition and had an ultrasound at 28 weeks, and we found out our daughter's intestines were on the outside. While this wouldn't necessarily have been a fatal problem if it had gone undetected and she'd been born at home, there are multiple other complications that can go along with it, which she did experience, that would have been extremely life-threatening.

That said, I'm about 20 weeks pregnant now with our first baby after the extremely traumatic experience last time, and while I will probably have an ultrasound "just in case", I don't feel that intense NEED to have one that I did last time. I think my desire to have one this time is more related to the PTSD of having had the experience we did last time. Seriously, follow your instincts. Trust your gut. If you feel like you need one, even for the peace of mind to know that your baby is most likely normal and healthy, then you should get one. I know it's anecdotal, but I ended up having 30+ (medically necessary) ultrasounds in the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter, and she is perfectly fine and healthy now with no signs of "damage" from the ultrasound exposure.


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#11 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 03:13 PM
 
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Jumping from the main board...

 

I always choose to have a ultrasound based on the experiences of two friends who chose not to have ultrasounds with 4th pregnancies after three normal pregnancies and delivers. The first one did not she was carrying a child with unique, special needs. Having some foreknowledge would have saved them much grief and heartache, a terribly scary homebirth and subsequent transfer and then helicopter transport, might have saved her breastfeeding relationship and saved her from EP'ing for two solid years, and given them a chance to find better care, resources, and doctors. If they had known, anything, that would have welcomed the baby into loving open arms with more of the resources they needed, and most sadly, avoided some of the brain damage that occured directly after birth. Very sad situation.

 

My other friend a partial previa that was unknown and almost bled out during labor. She delivers with an OB at a hospital but faced a difficult recovery.

 

I don't like ultrasounds, there is very little research about them and I like research and science, I would personally avoid anything routine, but if there is something seriously wrong an ultrasound can be a clue.

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#12 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 03:19 PM
 
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We did not have any with the first and plan on having none with this one as well.  I trust in my own intuition and my midwifes experience to let us know if something is up and worth getting concerned about.  I think they do more harm than good.  If the child has any defects I would rather not know, I think it would only add stress and harm the baby even further.  I understand why people get them, just not for me!

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#13 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 03:20 PM
 
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I had three with my first, two with my second and one with my third...anyone see a pattern here? Mostly, I was having them to alleviate the stress of other people. With the third, though, I ended up having an emergency c-section and they had to scan me during my 24 hour labour to see where the placenta was. I'm still not convinced they're all useful.

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#14 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So if one chose to have one-peace-of-mind-quick scan. What is the best time to have it done? The 20-25 week period? I have heard that sometimes the placenta previa shows up and usually changes in time for birth~thus creating more stress than worth and more scans. Or, any midwives out there... would a velamentous insertion of the cord be seen or felt during labor (at home through an exam) and would allow time for a transfer?

 

This is already causing my decision to be harder! :/ I guess I was just more confident and trusted everything was going to be alright with my last  no scan pregnancy and home birth. which it was. I am wondering if this is my intuition talking or just too much time on the possiblity threads :)

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#15 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 05:31 PM
 
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I chose not to have one with this my 2nd pregnancy and 1st HB. However, I had some bleeding (now long since resolved) and my midwife suggested I get one to rule out placenta previa. As it turns out, that is all that was ruled out besides my child having a normal brain and bladder. They were unable to image both sides of the heart, the kidneys, the palate, the full spinal column etc... I am now having to decide whether or not to have a 2nd ultrasound. My little one was so curled up and comfy in his or her position the tech was unable to read very much. That's what I hate about these types of procedures... one tends to lead to another. 

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#16 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 05:38 PM
 
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I think I will always get a late ultrasound since I found out what happened to my landlord's baby.  We moved in after they lost their baby last spring.  I was due last October and when he found out we were planning to birth at the birthing center he tried to talk us out of it.  They lost their baby because the cord was wrapped six times and was too short to allow the baby to come out.  He said a routine US would have caught that and a C-section would have brought their baby into the world rather than the opposite.  Naturally I was terrified and almost decided to birth at the hospital.  I'm glad I didn't and we had a great natural birth at the center.  However, we did have an US done toward the end just to make sure everything looked good.  I don't know how useful really early ultrasounds are.  I suppose they catch other problems but for me that last one put my mind at ease.  I agree with other comments...just trust your intuition.  It's possible that in the future ultrasounds will be one of those things we wish we hadn't used gratuitously... I feel this way.  But they are also a useful tool.  Just because you're birthing naturally at home doesn't mean you can't use the technology available to make sure everything looks good.        


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#17 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 06:06 PM
 
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Quote: Originally Posted by JudiAU
I don't like ultrasounds, there is very little research about them and I like research and science,

 

Wha?  There's a ton of research out there on this topic.  I just put 'prenatal ultrasound safety' into PubMed and got 5 pages of results. ??


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#18 of 33 Old 02-18-2011, 06:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mkmoro311 View Post

We did not have any with the first and plan on having none with this one as well.  I trust in my own intuition and my midwifes experience to let us know if something is up and worth getting concerned about.  I think they do more harm than good.  If the child has any defects I would rather not know, I think it would only add stress and harm the baby even further.  I understand why people get them, just not for me!



The thing about this is, if your baby had a defect and could be saved in the hospital, but would die at home, wouldn't you want to know that and make the decision to give birth where your baby could live? The birth defect my daughter was born with has a 90% survival rate, but like I said above, if I'd had her at home, she would have died. I don't think I could have lived with that...


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#19 of 33 Old 02-19-2011, 07:34 AM
 
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I'm pregnant with my first, 33 weeks along, 41 years old, and had a terrible u/s experience at 14 weeks.  The tech tried for 45 minutes to get a nuchal fold measurement, but our baby would not present transversely.  He flipped from full frontal to full back view, but never stopped for a sideways view.  Finally, she settled for a still frame as he flipped, and even then he was in a fetal position with his chin on his chest and neck bent.  The result?  A 5.9mm reading and all hell breaking loose.  The staff at the perinatal clinic actually said "we are so sorry" in hushed voices when we left, as if our baby was already dead.  Thankfully, I did my own research online and spoke to Down's Syndrome moms and testing advocates, and discovered that I should have been sent home to return another day for a better reading, or not measured at all because 14 weeks is too far along.  Yes, 5.9mm is large, and had he presented properly I wouldn't have measured 5.9mm but probably larger than normal. And yes, at 41 years old my risk of Ds is elevated.

 

However - our second 'level 2" u/s at 21 weeks revealed no physical markers for chromosomal abnormalities whatsoever (all organs are perfect, baby has a nasal bone, and feet, fingers, ears, arms and legs are all 'normal', and the nuchal measurement was normal), and all blood tests have been negative.  I went to a different clinic for the 2nd u/s and had a totally different experience.  Still, I'm told I'm "extremely high risk" due to the measurement and have been pressured into all sorts of invasive testing and extra ultrasounds.  I've declined them all, because after the 2nd u/s, the only risk is Ds and I'd rather deal with that when/if it happens other than fret and be pressured into abortion.  And man oh man, do they ever pressure you into abortion here in California - the genetic counselor spoke to me like I was an idiot for even considering 'risking' giving birth to a special needs child, as if they don't deserve to live.  My mom was a special ed teacher and I was raised to appreciate people with special needs. If that is our path in life, so be it.  By 21 weeks, I could already feel him kicking and was so in love with him already, there was no way I could abort regardless of a positive Ds amnio result.  And we dealt with the risks due to my age when I first discovered I was pregnant.  Most of my friends had their kids after age 35, so it's not unchartered territory for my support system.

 

I'm planning a home birth, and initially agreed to the testing to ensure I was a good candidate.  Like many who have posted, I wanted to know if a hospital birth was required.  For our baby, even if he has Ds, he appears to be perfectly healthy otherwise, so I'm not worried.  I have two care providers, a regular clinic and fantastic home birth midwife - being a journalist, I'm a strong believer in having more than one source!  =)  I may have one final u/s to make sure the cord isn't wrapped around baby's neck too many times (he's like a little circus acrobat in my uterus) or there are any other issues, but I'm still undecided.  This is only my first, but I'm positive my baby HATES ultrasound and doppler.  Both ultrasounds and all doppler heartbeat checks require constantly chasing him around, as if he's dodging the sound waves.  So, I feel guilty whenever I subject him to it.

 

Overall, I guess I'm anti-ultrasound due to my experience.  Thankfully, my pregnancy has been super easy other than the nuchal scare.  Every other test result has been perfect, and I haven't experienced any of the discomforts or awful symptoms other women often do.  If I have another, I may go completely low tech and take my chances because the genetic counseling philosophies are such a turnoff.  Like my Mom said, in many ways the 'good old days' were better because you didn't worry during pregnancy, and after birth, you lived with the hand you were dealt without judgement.

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#20 of 33 Old 02-19-2011, 08:12 AM
 
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I was also thinking of this issue more for this second planned homebirth.  Part of that was I wanted to know the sex this time around and I also think a little part of me feels more responsible for the decision because my MW this time is more hands off when it comes to interventions.  As a result, I did a lot of reading about it.  I read a couple of the big studies from top to bottom.  I've read lots of articles from Midwifery Today as well as quite a bit of more conventional articles that lean toward using ultrasounds.   Along the way I have also read and considered lots of people's anecdotes (including my own and those of close friends).

 

My feelings are this: I have a difficult time believing that there is a significant risk of having a child who, without an ultrasound, would have died.   I realize that there are A LOT of people online who have had this experience but, from what I've read, the larger studies about this issue do not back this up from a statistical perspective.  I feel that the risk and side effects of false worry are very real. I am not one who would be comforted by an "all clear" ultrasound.  I would not terminate.  If I got a worrysome ultrasound I would not be want lots of further testing.  I live very close to many, many reputable hospitals.  I feel that babies who may have some issues that need treatment deserve a peaceful, timely, healthy birth and I think that allowing for that may be why ultrasound diagnosis does not tend to improve outcomes.  Those are all the reasons I don't want one.  

 

I would LOVE to know the position of the baby for sure but that's the only downside I can come up with for now (we decided in the end that we really didn't want to know the sex afterall).  


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#21 of 33 Old 02-19-2011, 11:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mambera View Post

Wha?  There's a ton of research out there on this topic.  I just put 'prenatal ultrasound safety' into PubMed and got 5 pages of results. ??


Yeah this. Ultrasound has like fifty years of safety data. Ultrasound might not be 100% safe, but in the same way that nothing in life is. That said, on the population level it doesn't show a lot of benefit either, so I think it is really a matter of individual preference. I opted for one because I like to have information, and in small part because I'm planning a home birth. 


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#22 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 05:31 AM
 
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Initially, I had an ultrasound to find out the sex but discovered I have placenta previa. Maybe my midwife would have detected it, maybe not but I am really glad I know now. I think I'll always get at least one ultrasound for this reason alone. 

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#23 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 06:16 AM
 
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I've decided not to have ultrasounds in my pregnancies, unless a strong indication for one presents itself. I've seen them cause so much worry and undue stress. It is all too often the beginning of the cascade of interventions. Alternately they can cause a false sense of security, and frankly I can do either of those in my own head - I don't need any help! lol. 


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#24 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 10:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mambera View Post
Quote:
Wha? There's a ton of research out there on this topic. I just put 'prenatal ultrasound safety' into PubMed and got 5 pages of results. ??


Yeah this. Ultrasound has like fifty years of safety data. Ultrasound might not be 100% safe, but in the same way that nothing in life is. That said, on the population level it doesn't show a lot of benefit either, so I think it is really a matter of individual preference. I opted for one because I like to have information, and in small part because I'm planning a home birth.

There is also data showing that the increase in the use of US over the last 20 years corresponds with the increase of autism. Do US cause autism? No clue. But the possibility that they do makes me not want more than absolutely necessary.

I am getting an US this week. I didn't have one during my first pregnancy until I went into early labor at 32 weeks. The outcome of my pregnancy would not have been different if I had known what was going on, so why do I want one this time? Peace of mind. The trauma of finding out about my daughter's partially formed twin just before giving birth to him makes me need to know what is going on in there. I know it won't provide all the answers, and may cause me more stress, but I have to know this time.

I have 100% chance of being stressed due to my previous experience. It's possible that an US will ease that stress considerably for me.


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#25 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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I don't log on very often, but did this afternoon, and saw your post to the ultrasound question.  We had a daughter last year in November.  At my 18 week ultrasound, they found a nuchal fold of 4.5, and sent me to a specialist, who read it as 5.1 mm.  I was very upset, because they didn't even tell me it was the nuchal fold they were reading, only something that wasn't right.  Anyway, the doctor told me I didn't have much time to waste, because to "redirect the pregnancy"  couldn't occur past 21 weeks in Texas.

 

Needless to say, I was nauseated, and left, never to return.  I did go to a specialist my MW really likes and he looked the baby over very carefully, didn't see anything!

 

However, my daughter had a pulminary stinosis (sp??).  What the experts don't tell you, is that the nuchal fold doesn't measure anything about Downs. It measures the fluid in the back of the neck, and if there is too much, there is a great chance that a baby can have something wrong in the heart.  Swelling around the heart actually reaches the neck area too. 

 

Half of DS children have heart defects.  That's why they say it's a marker for Downs.  Children without DS, but with heart defects have the marker too, but not all the time!  And many heart defects can be corrected surgically.  It's not all bad to know, if your baby's going to need a specialist.  Just the attitude SOME people have about any defect is so negative.

 

So my question is, Why are we looking at the baby?  If you would not use the information at all, it's not worth the headache.  That would be the first two trimesters, for my DH and me.  Taking a look if there is something causing concern, to save the baby, is a real reason to go for it.  Then you could have the right medical professionals at your birth, which is what happened to me!

 

I ended up having Pre-E, and the baby was delivered early, with the use of ultrasound.  She is little, but strong, and we are grateful to have her with us.

 

Bobbie, mom to Isabella

 

 

 

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#26 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 04:47 PM
 
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It was very easy for my Midwife to tell which position the baby was in, she would just wedge her hand into my pelvis to feel for the nead and then the side for the babies back.  Most of the time it was uncomfortable, but worth it to not have the ultrasound.

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I would LOVE to know the position of the baby for sure but that's the only downside I can come up with for now (we decided in the end that we really didn't want to know the sex afterall).  



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#27 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 05:08 PM
 
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Yea, I know that most MW can tell.  I may have an odd belly or just odd MW but I didn't get a "for sure" from either of my MW (lots of experience for both).  


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#28 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 05:21 PM
 
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I had two with my first who was born in a hospital and none with my next three who were homebirths.  This time around I was leaning towards having one because everything was so different and I felt something was wrong. The day before I was going to have one I ended up in the ER and then surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.  I now only have one functioning tube left and should I get pregnant again I will have an U/S at 6 weeks to find out wether it is ectopic or not so that I can use methotrexate to desolve the egg and avoid another ruptured tube. 


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#29 of 33 Old 02-20-2011, 08:17 PM
 
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I wish I could be one of the moms who said "I didn't have an ultrasound for my first baby and everything went well," but I'm not. My husband and I planned on a home birth and went through the pregnancy classes, but 6 weeks before our due date I started having contractions and ended up in the hospital for preterm labor.  This is when we had our first sonogram.  It turns out our sweet little peanut had gastroschisis.  Basically, her intestines were outside her abdominal wall.  Thankfully, all has turned out well and after 8 weeks in the NICU we have a healthy, chunky 6 month old baby without so much as reflux to complain about. 

So here is my dilemma.  Should we have gotten the 20 week ultrasound to find out about the defect in her abdominal wall? My husband says yes.  It would have been better to be prepared and have done our research instead of being plunged into making some very serious decisions in a few hours' time.  Or was it better to have a great, stress free pregnancy for 34 weeks? 

We had no family history to necessitate an ultrasound and thought we were doing the best possible "trust your body" approach to having our baby.  I now know we will have ultrasounds for future pregnancies.  As for advice to other parents, I'm still on the fence.  I would hate to have another family experience what we went through, but also understand not wanting to expose your baby to anything that isn't necessary.  As for us, we'll just play it safe for now.

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#30 of 33 Old 02-21-2011, 03:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andreavstevens View Post

I wish I could be one of the moms who said "I didn't have an ultrasound for my first baby and everything went well," but I'm not. My husband and I planned on a home birth and went through the pregnancy classes, but 6 weeks before our due date I started having contractions and ended up in the hospital for preterm labor.  This is when we had our first sonogram.  It turns out our sweet little peanut had gastroschisis.  Basically, her intestines were outside her abdominal wall.  Thankfully, all has turned out well and after 8 weeks in the NICU we have a healthy, chunky 6 month old baby without so much as reflux to complain about. 

So here is my dilemma.  Should we have gotten the 20 week ultrasound to find out about the defect in her abdominal wall? My husband says yes.  It would have been better to be prepared and have done our research instead of being plunged into making some very serious decisions in a few hours' time.  Or was it better to have a great, stress free pregnancy for 34 weeks? 

We had no family history to necessitate an ultrasound and thought we were doing the best possible "trust your body" approach to having our baby.  I now know we will have ultrasounds for future pregnancies.  As for advice to other parents, I'm still on the fence.  I would hate to have another family experience what we went through, but also understand not wanting to expose your baby to anything that isn't necessary.  As for us, we'll just play it safe for now.



That is so interesting that we had almost the same experience! We found out at 28 weeks though. I personally am very glad that I waited until 28 weeks to have the ultrasound, because I had the pregnancy I wanted for the first 2 trimesters... And, at least with gastroschisis, it's not like they can do anything before that anyway, even if you know... it's just extra time to be stressed, IMO. I'm 20 weeks now with our first baby after our gastroschisis experience, and not planning to have an ultrasound for at least a couple more weeks.

One thing that I think is important to note is that NEITHER of us had family history or any reason to think there was anything wrong. And that is the case with gastroschisis MOST of the time. AND, even though it is rare, it is getting increasingly more common for no known reason. I volunteer for an organization that provides support to parents having babies with this birth defect, and the most common thing moms have been posting lately is how there are 3 or 4 other babies in the NICUs where their gastroschisis babies are, who have the same thing. When DD was born in 2008, the rate was one in 5000. Now it's one in 2229. As far as birth defects in general, it is one in 33. That's a 3% chance, which is low, but still there (and like I said, it's rising).

Honestly, I think if you're birthing in the hospital, an ultrasound doesn't seem as necessary. But if you're birthing at home, it just feels like a big risk to take, IMO. But that's probably my experience talking...


doula, wife to Dave ribbonyellow.gif, mom to Noah (5/14/06) superhero.gifand Faith (11/13/08) ribbonlime.gif (Gastroschisis Awareness) 127 days in the NICU, and 6 weeks thousands of miles from home, because of gastroschisis.  Expecting #3 2ndtri.gif July 2011! computergeek2.gif www.frugallynatural.org
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