I was 10 weeks pregnant and the nurse practitioner suggested we try to listen for a heartbeat.
After squirting some gel on my belly,she placed a mini microphone which was connected to a handheld device on my abdomen and glided it over the gel.....moments later we heard the "da-da-dum,da-da-dum" like galloping horses.
How nice it was to hear my baby was alive and well!
This was an event I looked forward to anxiously in each of my future pregnancies;I just had to hear that my baby was thriving well!
Each and every appointment from 10 weeks until birth,my obstetrician would use the fetal Doppler to hear how many beats per minute my little ones heart was beating-that equals to about 13 uses per pregnancy at about 1 minute per visit.
Then,most parents look forward to having their 20 week ultrasound-I know I did.
Of course,in many pregnancies,at least one ultrasound occurs before the 20 week US.
In my first pregnancy I had an US at 14 weeks to verify dates,followed by the 20 week and then another at 34 weeks by my new OB to verify size.
In my second pregnancy I had an ultrasound at 6 weeks to verify gestation,followed by the 20 week and then another at 38 weeks to verify positioning.
In my third pregnancy I had an ultrasound at 10 weeks to verify gestation,followed by the 20 week.
In my fourth pregnancy I had an ultrasound at 12 weeks to verify gestation,followed by one at 14 weeks for a nuchal translucency test-which measures for downs syndrome and of course the 20 week ultrasound.
All of this is generally followed by Electronic Fetal Monitoring during labor and delivery.
|Electronic Fetal Monitoring|
A lot of women find this uncomfortable to say the least because you are normally hindered in movement.
I have many things to say about how EFM affected my labors.
I experienced back labor with every single one of my births....and for my three hospital births EFM was a protocol.
If I wanted to get up I couldn't.
I was made to believe that I HAD to lay down and get a 'good strip' showing a heart rate and contraction pattern "Just give us 20 minutes on the monitor" they would say....it always turned into longer and I was in pain and unable to manage it effectively.
Like most parents who love their babies dearly,I was under the impression that 'doctor knows best' and that all of these protocols,procedures and policies were in the best interest of my child-so of course I showed up for every appointment and followed their orders.
I didn't feel I was 'qualified' to speak for myself.
Since then I have learned that parents ARE their child's best advocate:
An voice against procedures that aren't necessary,therefore carry more risks than benefits.
To make decisions which best benefit and protect their child (and themselves) parents need the information.
An informed choice doesn't merely happen by listening to a care provider.....No,the options and details must be sought out by the parents.
There are risks to any procedure or intervention done during pregnancy and birth....to best weigh out the risk and benefits,you need to KNOW them.
You can make an informed decision based on the information,along with most importantly :Your Gut Instincts.
One thing to consider is that you can check on your unborn baby using many listening devices that do NOT use ultrasound technology:
There is your normal stethoscope-the kind your doctor uses to listen to your heart-this one may make it more difficult to hear,but it is possible!
Many midwives use a fetoscope-which had a long bar extending from the listening pieces to the belly and ends in a dome looking piece.
As far as ultrasound use in pregnancy,many people will say that you NEED one...but plenty of people skip routine ultrasounds.
Most of the ultrasounds done during pregnancy are to 'date' your baby or to 'test' to see if your baby has a disability of some sort.
Ultrasound dates can be off by days or even weeks;sizes (weight of baby) can be off by POUNDS.
Really,considering the variations in accuracy of ultrasounds you may do much better with an educated guess from a skilled care provider feeling your baby through your belly!
When it comes to Electronic Fetal Monitoring as done during labor,studies show that intermittent monitoring would be as effective,as well as allow a laboring mother to work with her contractions more efficiently by being able to move about.
Ultrasound waves alter cell structure.
There are many things to consider when thinking of whether ultrasounds/dopplers/EFM are safe for babies.
Studies are possibly linking the use of ultrasounds to mental retardation,autism,hearing loss,speech impairment and higher risk of miscarriage.
The NIH has declared:
“Ultrasound examination in pregnancy should be performed for a specific medical indication.”
I encourage you to question whether ultrasounds,dopplers and EFM are safe.
You can never go wrong by doing some fact checking!
Here are some links to help you learn more:
If Ultrasound destroys sperm why is it safe for a fetus?
It is not possible to prove that ultrasound scans or dopplers are safe
Ultrasound is safe...right? (this one points out how little is known about the safety!)
Questions about Prenatal Ultrasound and the Alarming Increase in Autism
Ultrasounds not as safe as commonly thought
Continuous EFM during labor and delivery