What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a technology that works similarly to the way bats use echoing sound waves to fly and hunt at night.Within the context of pregnancy and birth, ultrasounds are used to get information by creating images of the baby, placenta,blood flow, or listening to the baby’s pulse.The ultrasound wand sends a beam of fast ultrasound waves at the baby which then bounces off the baby’s body and back to the beam.The sonogram machine turns that info into an image of the baby.The doppler technology turns it into audible rhythm of the baby’s pulse.Dopplers use constant of ultrasound whereas sonograms use pulsed beams of ultrasound.
Is Ultrasound technology safe?
The simple answer is that the safety of using any ultrasound technology on pregnant mamas and babies has never been clearly established. No one can say for certain that it is safe to use ultrasound.Additionally, evidence shows that routine use of ultrasound in low risk pregnancies Does Not improve outcomes for either Mommy or baby.
What are the risks?
The ultrasound beam can and does cause a temperature increase in the tissue where the beam is aimed.So in pregnancy, the beam is aimed at your baby.No studies have been done to ascertain how much of a temperature shift occurs when used on babies in the womb.There is also the concern that the high frequency sound waves may interfere with the loosely developed embryo through a cavitation process where small pockets of gas in tissues vibrate and then collapse. Again, the significance of this is not well understood.Studies on mice have shown ultrasound can interfere with the development of the nervous system.The migration of the brain cells to their correct locations can slow down the rate of cell division in the intestines.There are also the social and psychological risks of ultrasound.
What are the benefits?
There is no doubt that ultrasound can be helpful in some instances.The problem is that most ultrasounds are not done for medically indicated reasons. Again, routine serial ultrasound scanning, meaning for every pregnancy and at regular intervals, has not been shown to improve outcomes for mother and babies.Ultrasounds can be useful for many reasons though, such as the following
Diagnosing multiple gestations
Getting a more accurate date
Looking to make sure baby is implanted in uterus
Confirming a heart beat
Checking placental location
Confirming fetal position
Observing baby’s well being during post dates
Ultrasounds can also be beneficial in helping meet mental and emotional needs of some mothers.
You should know the reason you are getting an ultrasound.