Ultrasounds – The Information I Wish Had Been Shared
I would like to open this post by sharing with you that I am a mother of two children, the eldest being 2 years and 7 months, and my youngest being 8 months old. I had two scans, with my eldest child and three with my youngest.
It is neither my intention to scaremonger or make people feel insecure or guilty about decisions that they have made during previous pregnancies. However, as a childbirth educator who spends a lot of time talking about the rights of pregnant women and the importance of being able to make informed choices, around pregnancy and birth; I feel compelled to share some of the information that was presented to me, surrounding the use of ultrasound during pregnancy, at a seminar held by the Hypnbirthing Association with speaker Dr Sarah Buckley, natural childbirth expert. I share, so that should you choose to have another child later on down the line, this blog sets you on your own path to search out more information to enable you to make an informed choice about what is right for you and your baby.
From the moment that I found out I was pregnant, I made calculated choices, about the things that were important to me and that felt right for my baby. Although, I made sure that I gave up smoking in totality and avoided smokey environments, I also did lots of things that many people would say that I shouldn’t have. I still continued to drink moderately during my first pregnancy, I tried during my second, my daughter wasn’t having any of it, a meagre sniff of red wine had me running for the hills, she didn’t like. I ate soft boiled eggs, almost every day and I enjoyed the times I went out for sushi. I mention these things not because I am looking for your judgement, but to merely point out that the choices that I made for myself and my family, are certainly not the choices that everyone will make for their families.
I exercised my right to choose based on the information that was made available and accessible to me. I weighed up the risks and went with what felt OK for me. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the same informed decision when it came to choosing whether routine ultrasound was right my family and I because of a complete lack of discussion and lack of acknowledgement about what we do and do not know about the safety of this procedure.
I feel that the fact that scans are positioned as part of the routine package of bloods, blood pressure and urine samples, it gave me a quiet reassurance, that all I was doing is making sure my baby was OK. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing, on the surface of things, however, if someone had suggested to me that a small percentage of women choose not to have their babies scanned, you can find some literature on it at XYZ. I don’t think I’d be writing this post, because I would have seen the question marks raised and been able to come to my own conclusions.
In a recent study, William Tyler, scientist and Co-Founder of Neurotek a company looking to commercialise the use of Ultrasound for non evasive brain stimulation – for the laymen this is all good stuff! Tyler conducted an experiment with 31 adults in which they were exposed to 15 second waves of ultrasound and then had subsequent brain activity monitored. The results for the experiment, into whether we can alter the perception of pain look promising, however, the study is currently halted. This is due to safety concerns around the potential of ultrasound to damage the physiology of the brain and until these safety concerns are met the research hangs in limbo. My point in mentioning this, is when I hear the concerns raised about adult brains being exposed to ultrasound waves for in excess of 15 seconds and I think about my immature baby’s brain and how long you sit waiting whilst your 3D or 4D scans are prepared, it doesn’t sit comfortably at all.
If someone had shared with me the weird statistical fact that there is a higher correlation of children born, that go onto to develop left handedness, which directly relates to the amount of time that they had been exposed to ultrasound in the womb, at first I would have thought….And??? But that And….Soon reverts itself to why? Why does that happen? What is it about the exposure to ultrasound that affects the biological make-up of our children to create this anomaly and the answer would have been and still is…We don’t know. And that’s the concern. If somebody had also said to me, there’s evidence that ultrasound can produce actual sound in the womb – I would have wanted to know more. A microphone was once placed in an amniotic sac during a routine scan which left a sound recording of 84 decibels – a bit like being next to a really loud alarm clock. If I’d have known that would I have wanted my baby to experience that for 20, 30, 60 or 90 minutes depending on where I went or who I was seeing for a routine scan?
For some people, having the opportunity to find out if there if there are any anomalies with their children prior to giving birth, will always outweigh the unknown risks about scans and their safety. And I get that. Having said that, I also believe that there is much more that could be explored around how the system that we are a part of, only promotes the survival of the fittest through a non-natural means of selection pre-birth, but I think that’s another debate.
So, to conclude, the only aim of this post, is to present you with information that is often not shared and not discussed. I do believe in the non-medicalization of birth, but for women who do have a pregnancy in which their babies are born into special circumstances, scans can and are of huge benefit. However, the more I look into the use of routine prenatal ultrasound, the more I begin to question whether that part of the process will be a route that I choose to go down in the future.
For more information on the safety of ultrasounds please visit www.sarahbuckley.com