Congratulations, you are pregnant. With a simple test your entire life changes. If you are a first time mother, you have probably spent time searching the internet, buying books and talking to friends so you feel ready and prepared for the pregnancy and upcoming birth of your child. One question you may run into is whether or not sonograms are safe for yourself and your child. There has been some heated debate, in recent years, about the efficacy of repeated ultrasounds, but there is no scientific evidence that suggests these scans are unsafe for your child.
How Many Ultrasounds Will I Have During My Pregnancy?
The National Health Service suggest that every pregnant women have at least two ultrasounds, although three is not uncommon, and have more than three can also be a regular occurrence. You can also request a 3D or 4D ultrasound close to your due date to get a sense of what your baby looks like. Most 3D ultrasounds are performed during the 3rd trimester, many close to the 32 week mark. The first ultrasound, generally done around the 8th to 10th week is used to establish an estimated due date for your baby. This ultrasound allows the doctor to measure the baby. Together with your last menstrual cycle, the doctor will establish the due date for your little one. A second ultrasound done around the 20th week of pregnancy is often used to check on the development of the fetus and can be used as an anatomy scan if you’d like to know the sex of your child. Remember, anatomy scans are not always 100% accurate, and it may be difficult for your doctor to tell the sex of the baby during the ultrasound because of the baby’s placement. While two to three ultrasounds are the norm, the number of ultrasounds you have during your pregnancy can vary for a multitude of different reasons. The reasons you may have more ultrasounds include;
- An inability to determine the sex of the baby during the anatomy scan
- A slow or fast developing baby
- Potential abnormalities seen in early ultrasounds
- Your health history (high-risk pregnancies traditionally have more ultrasounds)
- A propensity for birth defects due to genetic conditions
- If you had a complicated prior pregnancy
- Gestational Diabetes
Are Sonograms Harmful To the Baby?
In recent years some people have become worried that multiple sonograms may be harmful to the baby, however, there is no scientific data that suggests the procedure is unsafe for the unborn child. Sonograms use energy, much like talking would use energy. When the wand is placed on your stomach, sound is used to detect the baby and will develop a picture of the baby on a screen for you, based on the energy detected. Because of this, a sonogram is no less safe than your partner talking to your stomach. The concern about sonograms likely developed because some people liken them to X-rays. There is scientific data that multiple x-rays may be harmful to the body, however, sonograms and X-rays are two entirely different things. X-rays are harmful in high dosages because they use radiation to see through the skin to the bones of the body. Sonograms do not utilize any radiation to develop a picture of your child.
- A few opponents of ultrasound have attempted to make a link between sonograms and;
- Low birth weights
- Premature birth
- Poor health at birth
- Prenatal death
The truth is there are absolutely no links between sonogram use and these complications. In fact, sonograms have helped many children in crisis in the womb get the help and medical care they need. They are also used to alert both the parents and the doctor of problems early on, many of which can be managed with proper medical care. There is absolutely no link between sonogram use and autism. There is also no link between the use of sonograms and premature birth, poor health at birth, or prenatal death. Scientific evidence and studies have completely discounted these alleged risks.
Can Ultrasounds be Harmful to the Mother?
Some people also wonder whether or not these scans can be harmful to the intended mother. Well, the simple answer is, no, there are no reports of harmful effects of sonograms on an intended mother. In fact, the scans have actually helped many expectant mothers, and can be thought of as technology that makes childbirth far safer. Scans can detect fetal abnormalities. Some of the abnormalities can be corrected, while others cannot. Sonograms allow intended parents to understand the health and wellness of their child prior to birth. This can be extremely helpful emotionally, if there is a problem detected. Aside from uncovering fetal abnormalities, Ultrasound scans can help to detect abnormalities in the womb that would make it more difficult, or extremely dangerous to birth a child naturally. Sonograms can detect;
- Breeched babies (a condition were the child has not flipped into birthing position)
- A child who is too large to be delivered naturally
- Placenta Previa (a condition where the placenta is sitting too close or on top of the cervix. Placenta Previa can be extremely dangerous to the mother and child and can lead to hemorrhaging and severe blood loss)
- Uterine abnormalities that can lead to a difficult birth
- Because there are no scientific risks associated with ultrasound scans at this time, it can be argued that sonogram scans have actually made childbirth significantly safer for the intended mother, not the reverse.
Are 3D or 4D Ultrasounds Harmful?
3D and 4D ultrasounds have become incredibly popular in recent years. The technology to see a baby, inside the womb, in great detail. Through these scans you’ll be able to recognize all of the facial features of your child as they develop. Many people, however, wonder if this technology is safe. The simple answer is that, yes, the technology is perfectly safe and has no ill effects on the child or the mother. 3D ultrasounds utilize the same frequency to get the sonogram picture you see on the screen. The only difference is the equipment used to get the image. 3D sonogram pictures are not created through the use of higher ultrasound waves, they are no louder to the child inside the womb than the sound of a 2D ultrasound machine. In fact, they are so similar that there is really no difference other than the sonogram pictures that are captured during the procedure. 3D ultrasounds can actually be incredibly beneficial to both the doctors and the parents. 3D and 4D ultrasound scans allow;
- Doctors to confirm or deny fetal abnormalities, specifically facial abnormalities such as cleft palette
- Doctors can further check on the development of a fetus who is suspected of being small
- Parents can create a deeper emotional bond
- Anatomy scans using 3D or 4D technology are more accurate.
While this technology is fairly new, there have been scientific studies on its safety. Doctors would not utilize this technology on a regular basis if it was thought to carry risks to the unborn child. There is no scientific data that suggests poor birth outcomes, or poor health in a fetus is linked to 3D ultrasounds, in fact, there is evidence to the contrary, because doctors can gain a better idea of what is going on in-utero through the scans.