There are so many reasons why the ultrasound during pregnancy is a routine procedure that is repeated several times during the nine months and which mothers not only willingly submit to, but also look forward to.
It is true that ultrasounds are a valuable diagnostic tool that helps to identify possible birth defects and also give valuable information about multiples, the baby’s position, proper fetal development, amniotic fluid and so on. It is also true that parents seem to enjoy and value that first sight of their baby; feel reassured by hearing the heartbeat and also treasure the ultrasound photos and videos. It can also be a useful tool for parents who want to know the sex of their baby in advance (particularly if there is a nursery to decorate or baby clothes to be bought).
However experts suggest that an ultrasound is not all fun and games and is not meant for the amusement of parents to be or to provide them and future grandparents, mementos of the baby.
Here are some things to keep in mind about ultrasound procedures during pregnancy:
It is not foolproof
While ultrasounds can be a valuable diagnostic tool, there are several things it can miss, and there is a lot that may be misidentified. Even sex determination involves some amount of guessing on part of the ultrasound technician though in a lot of cases the gender of the baby may be quite clear to detect.
There is also the fact that if some abnormality is detected during the pregnancy this may indicate that there is in increased risk of fetal abnormality rather than the confirmation of the existence of an abnormality. For instance it can be detected whether the child is likely to be born with Down’s syndrome but the technician may not be able to say with certainty that the baby will have Downs’. So here, the ethical considerations that a parent will face are very considerable.
In the event that an abnormality is in fact detected, the parents then also have to take some difficult decisions about, possibly terminating the pregnancy or continuing with it with or without medical interventions.
Are there any negative side effects of ultrasounds?
As of now there is nothing to indicate that ultrasounds could cause any harm to mother or fetus. However experts do advise against unnecessary ultrasounds particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy. Women who have a temperature should, in particular avoid ultrasounds because ultrasounds can raise the body temperature and this can be potentially harmful to the baby.