Many expectant parents excitedly await the sonogram – to sneak a peek at the baby, perhaps to find out the sex of the baby, and for the peace of mind that everything is going as it should.
It is important to remember that not all ultrasounds follow the same protocol. Each pregnancy is different, and there are aspects of the sonogram to consider depending on the individual. Before the big appointment, you may want to discuss a few things with your doctor or midwife.
Sonograms are safe. Some families express concern about the risk of ultrasound to the developing baby. However, there is no scientific evidence showing that ultrasounds are harmful to the mother or the baby. The potential to reveal and treat potential problems greatly outweighs any risks of this non-invasive procedure.
Some tests may not be needed. Before you schedule, discuss with your doctor or midwife whether the pregnancy screenings you will be having are recommended for you. You may elect to skip some of the early screenings based on age and family history.
Or, you may opt for additional ultrasounds and blood tests if age or ethnicity warrants additional screening.
Just because the sonogram shows an abnormality does not mean your baby will have a defect. Many ultrasound screenings are represented in percentages. For example, your doctor may share that babies with these characteristics are “x percent” more likely to have a defect.
Follow-up ultrasounds may show that the abnormality resolved itself, and sometimes parents will be prepared to see a defect at birth that simply is not there once the baby is born. Even with the best tools and technology available, tests are not always 100% accurate.
Consider who should be present. Some parents choose to make the sonogram a family event, inviting friends or the grandparents-to-be to share in the first glimpses of the baby. However, keep in mind that the ultrasound is a diagnostic test. Before inviting others, consider how they will handle learning of problems and how private conversations will be handled.
Determine what you want to know. Also, if there are genetic defects or other concerns in your family, be sure to let the tech know so that he or she can examine those areas more carefully.
Make it clear before you begin whether or not you want to know the sex of the baby, and how you want to be told. Some families do not want to know, others want to be told right there, and some prefer that the ultrasound tech writes the gender on a piece of paper to be opened at a later time, either privately or with family and friends.
Next to birth, the sonogram is possibly the most awaited pregnancy milestone parents experience. Enjoy the moment, and don’t forget to ask your ultrasound tech for lots of pictures.