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007. Behind The Screen: Decoding The Truth About Pregnancy Ultrasounds

Today, we're diving into the world of ultrasounds, those magical (or maybe not so magical?) scans that give us a glimpse into our growing babies.


Buckle up because we're about to spill the tea on why those ultrasound results might not be as crystal clear as you've been led to believe. Are you ready?


A photo of a pregnancy ultrasound with the blog title written across it that says, Behind the Screen: Decoding the Truth About Pregnancy Ultrasounds by Jessica Smith, WildPreciousBirth.com

So, here's the thing: ultrasounds aren't perfect. While they can be a valuable tool, they also have their limitations.


That's because ultrasound technology is all about estimating, and as I'm sure you know, your body doesn't always play by the rules or follow the exact estimations. While ultrasounds are great for capturing those adorable baby kicks, they're not flawless rulers for accurately measuring your little one's size.


What Can Ultrasounds Do?


Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of your little miracle inside the womb. Those images can then be measured and those measurements rely on various factors, from the way you're built to the skill level of the person behind the ultrasound wand. It's like baking cookies – the recipe matters, and so does the chef!


An ultrasound tech holding an ultrasound wand over a woman's pregnant belly

They come in various forms, each serving a specific purpose:

  • Dating scans: These early scans help estimate your due date. ️

  • Detailed scans: These take a closer look at your baby's development and check for potential abnormalities.

  • Monitoring growth: These scans track your baby's size and weight.


Here's the good news: ultrasounds have played a crucial role in detecting early pregnancy, identifying twins, and even diagnosing certain medical conditions like ectopic pregnancies. Early diagnosis can make a world of difference in these circumstances!


The Ultrasound: Not Always the Crystal Ball You Think


A healthcare provider pointing to an ultrasound on a screen

Now, let's talk about the flip side:

  • Measurements are subjective: Those numbers on the screen? They're interpretations, not gospel truth. Different technicians can have slight variations in their measurements, and babies grow at their own pace anyway!

  • Not a guarantee of health: Even a "perfect" ultrasound can't guarantee a completely healthy baby. Life is full of surprises, and sometimes things develop differently than expected.

  • Fueling unnecessary anxiety: Focusing solely on numbers can lead to stress and worry, which isn't exactly the recipe for a blissful pregnancy journey. Ultrasounds have also been known to detect "anomalies" that later remedied themselves further on in the pregnancy (remember, babies don't all grow at the exact same pace!). This often causes tons of unneeded stress and worry to a pregnant mama and can unfairly steal some of the joy of pregnancy away with unfounded concerns.


So how often should we be checking in on our little one? Sure, those ultrasound moments are heartwarming, but too much of a "good" thing? Possibly.


A strip of black and white ultrasounds photos and a set of 3D Color ultrasound photos lying next to each other on a gray and white baby blanket

Frequent exposure to ultrasound waves raises questions about safety and the long-term effects on both the baby and the mama-to-be.


And here's the thing: without a comprehensive understanding of the potential risks, making truly informed choices becomes challenging. That's why, as an empowered parent, it's essential to engage in open conversations with your healthcare team. Discuss the frequency and necessity of each scan, weigh the benefits against the potential downsides, and ultimately, make decisions that feel right for you and your baby!


After all, your journey is unique, and decisions about your prenatal care should be as well-informed and personalized as possible. You can opt out of any ultrasound you don't want or feel you need.


It's prudent to tap into your confidence, curiosity, and a sprinkle of skepticism when it comes to those frequent ultrasound waves.


Breaking Down Big Baby Myths


A woman holding an ultrasound photo over her bare pregnant belly

Let's take a sec to address the big baby fears. Have you ever been told your baby is "too big to birth naturally"? Let's squash that myth right now!


Contrary to popular belief, most babies, big or small, can navigate the exit door just fine. Babies are experts at squeezing through tight spots, trust me!


The truth is, making decisions about interventions like induction or C-section based solely on baby's size might not be your only option, even if that's what your doctor is telling you. Size alone doesn't determine the success of a natural birth.


If your doctor is pressuring you to schedule an unwanted induction or C-section only because of a large size guesstimate, you have the right to a second opinion. If your doctor has never seen a 10-pound baby born vaginally, it makes sense why they might not think that's possible. But I'm willing to bet that if you ask a home birth midwife (or doula) the same question, you'll get a different answer!


Beyond the Screen: Trusting Your Amazing Body


a pregnant woman standing in a field and holding her belly

Let's be honest, mamas, our bodies are incredible! They're designed to grow and nurture these little humans, and they have an amazing built-in intuition.


Instead of getting caught up in the ultrasound frenzy, here's what I want you to remember:

  • Trust your body: Pay attention to your instincts and intuition. They're powerful tools!

  • Focus on the big picture: Your baby is growing and developing in its unique way. Embrace the wonder and mystery of pregnancy!

  • Bonding over numbers: Instead of fixating on measurements, focus on connecting with your baby through activities like talking, singing, or meditation. ‍


So, Mama, What Now?


Bottom line: Ultrasounds can be a helpful tool, but they shouldn't be the only source of information or the sole driver of your decisions. 


  • Ask questions: ‍ Don't hesitate to ask your healthcare provider everything you're curious about. Here are some questions you can start with:

    • Are ultrasounds safe for me and my baby during pregnancy?

    • How do ultrasounds help in monitoring the development of the baby during pregnancy?

    • Are there alternative methods to monitor the baby's well-being without using ultrasounds?

    • How often should I get an ultrasound during my pregnancy?

    • What should I do if the ultrasound results show something concerning?

    • Can the measurements from ultrasounds be inaccurate or misleading?

    • How can I balance the use of ultrasounds with trusting my body's natural process during pregnancy?

  • Seek additional support: Consider connecting with a doula or joining a pregnancy support group.

  • Do your own research: Find reliable sources (evidencebasedbirth.com is one of my favorites) for evidence-based information.

a pregnant woman sitting on a yoga mat holding her pregnant belly

As I wrap this up, here's my hope for you:


That you embrace your journey with confidence and autonomy. That you make decisions that resonate with you, not decisions based on societal norms or size-centric myths.


You're the hero of your story, and your journey is as unique as you are.


By understanding the limitations of ultrasounds and embracing your own intuition, you can navigate your pregnancy journey with confidence, informed choices, and a whole lot of joy!


And if you want some more pregnancy real talk, I know you're gonna love my free Before the Bump Pregnancy Guide. It's got 12 more tips that I think are essential for every parent to know before your baby gets here.


XOXO, Jess 💜

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