Why You Should Stop Getting So Many Ultrasounds

ultrasoundLook, for me to tell you to stop getting so many ultrasounds ... well, you know what they say about people who live in glass houses. I'll confess: During both of my pregnancies, I really looked forward to my ultrasounds. I never considered asking my doctor to reduce their frequency (not that they were particularly frequent, as I was fortunate enough to not have complications with either baby).

Getting an ultrasound always put my mind at ease -- everything looks fine, moving right along, developing on schedule -- the experience of seeing my baby moving and growing always took away the anxiety that something could go wrong (at least temporarily).


The ironic truth of which I was unaware at the time: Ultrasounds in and of themselves can hurt unborn babies (more on that later) and, as it turns out, they're often unnecessary and even inaccurate in the diagnosis of fetal macrosomia (otherwise known as big baby syndrome). The more common this misdiagnosis becomes, the higher the cesarean section rate climbs.

One of the other ways ultrasounds pose potential risks to babies is by raising the temperature of the amniotic fluid, something that can result in fetal brain damage (that's why you're not supposed to go in a jacuzzi, and why your OB told you to call right away if you get a high fever).

Granted, the vast majority of babies suffers no ill effects from prenatal ultrasounds, but it makes sense that we'd avoid the added risk whenever possible.

The most obvious ultrasounds to cut out are the 3D and 4D pictures of your unborn baby offered by commercial services. Not only is there no medical need for these scans, they're often performed by technicians who don't have adequate training and can take up to an hour (the longer the ultrasound, the riskier it is).

There's no need to go to battle over the ultrasounds at your doctor's office -- but you might want to mention that you'd prefer to skip any non-mandatory sessions. This way you've made your feelings clear without putting your OB on the defense. In my experience, doctors don't respond well to veiled accusations or even unintentional implications that some element of their standard practice is potentially horribly damaging. (Trust me.)

Are you concerned about getting too many ultrasounds?


Image via Abigail Batchelder/Flickr

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