I’ve been really up in the air about ultrasounds and dopplers. These two things are considered par for the course in a regular pregnancy, but surprisingly enough that’s not recommended. The American Pregnancy Association only recommends ultrasounds (including dopplers) if there is a medical concern. So why do most moms have at least one ultrasound during pregnancy? When I was pregnant with Peanut, I had 3 ultrasounds (one at 6-7 weeks because I had some bleeding, one at 18-ish weeks to check the sex and all of the other regular checks, and one at around 40 weeks to check the amnionic fluid amount) and doppler used at Every. Single. Prenatal. Appointment. A healthy, young mom taking care of herself, not using drugs, and no family history of birth defects and I needed that many ultrasounds? I was the epitome of low risk and still exposed my child to these potentially harmful ultrasonic rays that many times just because I didn’t know.
The emphasis in that sentence is potentially harmful. We don’t know if ultrasounds are harmful. Most things I’ve read say that they could be. There are emotional risks too. Some studies say that babies who aren’t diagnosed with problems prenatally end up doing better once they’re born, possibly because the birth is allowed to go on normally (no induction or c-sections) and the babies get more time to cook. Not to mention the high rate of false positives (same link) when it comes to things like placenta previa. Actually, I was told I might have that when I had my second ultrasound, but luckily I didn’t stress because my doctor also told me that it would grow upward with time.
It’s always the kicker of making a decision when you don’t have hard facts that tell you to go one way or the other. If they told me that ultrasounds could give my baby a third arm, it would be easy-peasy to make this decision. If they were entirely useless, it would make the decision easy. The problem is that there is potential for the rays to heat the baby and if they do, we don’t know if it actually hurts them. There is potential for the ultrasound to diagnose life-threatening problems in time to save a life, but that’s a rare occurrence.
So here’s what I’ve decided to do: I’m not getting an ultrasound unless there proves to be a medical reason for one. The doppler is basically a higher intensity ultrasound that happens for shorter amounts of time, so the same thing goes there–with one little adjustment. I decided to hear Twig’s heartbeat at my appointment yesterday just for the reassurance. I talked with my midwife about it and she basically said that she’s there just to support my decision. She also said that pregnancy is a physical and emotional experience. She said this in the context of if I was worried about a procedure and it’s safety, I should skip it.
For me, it also applied to this situation. With a fetoscope, I wouldn’t be able to hear the baby for at least another 5 weeks, if not 9. So I decided that for piece of mind, I wanted to hear the baby once before then. Other moms might not agree with this decision, but it made me feel better to know that this tiny little thing is really growing in me. There’s something about hearing the heartbeat that makes this all more real. So I went with intuition and I’m happy about it.
I am now 11 weeks. Actually according to the midwife I’m a few days further along, but I think she was going by LMP rather than ovulation for some reason. Either way, it only changes things by a few days and Twig won’t care about a due date anyway.
Everything seems to be getting better. The nausea is still there, but getting less and less. Other than sleeping 12 hours a night, I’m getting some of my energy back. I feel like I can actually get up and do things in the day, which included a couple more Lagoon (amusement park) trips this past week. We decided to get season passes and Peanut is thrilled. Once again, if my toddler can go on a ride, I think that my pregnant self can handle it. If I get to the point where I feel like I can’t by the end of the season, then Peanut can go on the rides by herself.
I had my first prenatal appointment yesterday. We chatted about the ultrasounds and dopplers, I gave her my paperwork (basically a medical history type of thing) though we didn’t go over it, I peed on a stick to check for protein and sugar (I think?), I weighed myself (I’m not sure on my pre-pregnancy weight, but it seemed about where I’m at now, so I don’t think I’ve gained anything), and we listened to the baby. She knew I was concerned about the doppler so she made sure to figure out where the “bulk of the baby” was prior to putting the actual doppler on. Peanut was pretty scared about mama laying down on the table, but she seemed happy when she heard the heartbeat.