Is Ultrasound Safe?
One of the many questions I get during a scan is whether or not ultrasounds are safe for the baby. I’ve actually been told to cut the scan short because they didn’t want their baby exposed to ultrasound. I’ve also had a surprising amount of people ask me if there is radiation involved with ultrasound. Fear no more! I’m about to put those worries to rest.
First, let me start out by saying…NO, ultrasound does not use radiation. We may be located in the radiology department but we don’t use radiation. That actually makes ultrasound safer than x-ray, CT, nuclear medicine and mammography. Ultrasound uses a high frequency sound wave that travels through tissue, bounces off the tissue and returns back to produce an image. Bats and submarines use the same technique to visualize their surroundings. The sound wave is so high that we can’t hear it so babies can’t hear it within the womb either. The only thing they’ll experience from an ultrasound is the sensation of someone poking and prodding at them from the mother’s stomach.
Are they safe though?
There have been many studies over the course of 40 years on the effects of ultrasound. The biggest discovery they have made is that over a very long term exposure, the tissue can heat up. Sound waves cause vibrations. You can see the big vibrations if you’ve ever seen the speakers on a car with a loud stereo system. The higher the frequency, the smaller the sound wave, which means smaller vibrations. No matter the frequency, sound waves carry vibrations. Vibrations cause friction if they’re traveling through a medium (like tissue). It would take a very long time for tissue to heat up…we’re talking days, way over your average thirty minute scan. Although it would take a while for those effects to take place, sonographers try to use the lowest setting possible for the safety of the baby. That is why it is important to always seek out a professional sonographer who has been trained to know which settings are safest for babies and for you.
Keep in mind that studies are still being done on the effects of ultrasound exposure but medical professionals have used ultrasound as their go-to modality for checking fetal well-being for decades now. The benefits greatly outweigh the risks. The FDA has stated to minimize the amount of scans done during your pregnancy as a precaution. However, there are instances where those extra scans are more important to a mother/family. There have been many times where we have had people come in for a scan and we have found accidental findings which have resulted in a better outcome for the mother and baby. Those who have previously miscarried, lost their baby or have had problems conceiving often seek us out to enjoy those special moments with their new little one growing inside of them and to be able to have that peace of mind.
Here at Sneak-A-Peek, we are trained professionals and we use the safest settings and never leave you exposed to ultrasound longer than necessary.
In ultrasound school we had to practice scanning each other. From someone who has had several ultrasounds done weekly for a year and a half I can assure you that I am as healthy as I was before and I am not a radioactive mutant…that would be pretty cool though!
“I have 3 boys already; we’d really like a girl”
“Our family has all girls and they’re hoping we give them a boy”
“Darn it! I really wanted a boy!”
Gender disappointment is not only real, but very common. I see it quite a bit (almost daily) at work while I’m scanning clients. From a tech’s perspective, this can be one of the biggest pet peeves we have. We look for healthy babies and we hear stories of the troubles some couples have to get pregnant so we automatically assume that some people tend to be really picky and not look at the greater outcome of their pregnancy…a healthy baby. But after doing a little research I’ve learned that there’s a lot more to it than just being picky.
Gender disappointment happens to a lot of women. Some voice their disappointment more than others. From an outside perspective, it can look pretty awful…as if it seems like you don’t want your baby. That’s an extreme way of looking at it, but what about the inside perspective? Nobody ever stops and thinks about why the mother (and sometimes father) gets upset about hearing the gender of their baby.
Fear and uncertainty can have a huge impact on how your feel about your baby’s gender.
“I don’t know how to raise a boy!”
“My mother really wants a granddaughter”
High expectations leading up to that reveal can either come as a huge relief or a really big letdown. That’s okay! Your baby is brand new to you. You know nothing about your baby so the only thing you can do is fantasize about the outcome. If the reality doesn’t match the fantasy it can feel like a letdown. The feelings only get worse because then you start feeling guilty that you feel that way about your baby. It’s hard to talk about your disappointment too. You’re either too afraid to voice the way your feel or others will judge you harshly for it. My advice, go ahead and voice your concerns. Seek reassurance from your friends and family. They’ll help convince you that it’s all going to be okay. If they judge you brush it off…you’re still going to rock the wonderful job of parenting either way.
Don’t give yourself a hard time though. It doesn’t last very long. Most women come to terms with the gender of their baby fairly quickly and move on.
The wonderful thing about babies is that you don’t know them until they’re born. As soon as the doctor puts that baby in your arms every doubt, fear and disappointment you felt during your pregnancy will melt away. The only thing you will feel during that moment is pure love for that baby. At the end of your pregnancy it won’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl. They will be your baby…the love of your life. And you know what they say about love
…love conquers all.
Trisomy 13 & 18
Recently, we were contacted by a local Little Rock news channel who wanted to interview us regarding our free service to expecting families given the diagnosis of trisomy 13 and trisomy 18 (by the way, we offer free scans to those diagnosed with trisomy 13 or 18). They wanted to interview us and a client of ours about their journey with trisomy 13 and what we do for those families who want those special moments with their little ones and memories they can keep forever. Their story was so heartwarming and it reached out to other families who were suffering as well. Just a couple of days after the story aired we received a call from another family who had been given the trisomy 18 diagnosis. These families have made an impact on us in a big way too and I thought I’d share some of experience with you today.
So, what is trisomy 13 and 18?
Trisomy 13 and 18 are chromosome disorders. Much like trisomy 21, Down ’s syndrome, trisomy 13 and 18 involve an extra chromosome. When we are conceived each sperm and egg contains 23 chromosomes. When they come together we have a total of 46 chromosomes that make up our genetic blueprint. Sometimes there can be a genetic error in the sperm or egg that results in an extra chromosome #13 or #18. Depending on which chromosome has an extra copy, determines the diagnosis of trisomy 13 or 18.
Trisomy 18 is also known as Edward’s syndrome. Babies who are diagnosed with Edward’s syndrome appear smaller in size and usually have a multitude of health issues that affect most of the body in some way. A common issue with these babies is that they have trouble feeding and most have heart defects.
Trisomy 13 is also known as Patau syndrome. Most babies with Patau syndrome tend to have major brain structure issues. This can result in facial defects such as cleft lip/palate and the eyes may form closer together. They may also have extra fingers and toes. These babies will most likely suffer from other health issues like heart defects and abdominal organs herniating out around the umbilical cord.
Babies who have been diagnosed with trisomy 13 and 18 usually don’t live past their first year of life. More commonly, most don’t live past their first couple of weeks due to the extent of their health problems. Most doctors will describe both disorders as “incompatible with life” meaning that they won’t be able to survive outside of the mother’s womb. There is no prevention and no cause for these disorders. These disorders are very rare. In fact, most miscarriages happen because of genetic issues during conception and it is rare if an embryo forms at all. Most end up being blighted ovums resulting in miscarriage.
I had the pleasure of scanning both babies who came to Sneak A Peek with these disorders. I could see their personalities and it made me so happy to see those families interact with their baby. I would catch them sucking their thumb and hiding from me when I was trying to take a picture. They were just like any other baby that I scan, happy and cozy in their own little world. I was able to witness the strength of those people and I truly admire their courage. I remember talking with one of the families and the mother told me the doctors were surprised he had made it that far along. She told me she was certain that he was a fighter and oh boy could I tell! He was a stubborn little one who didn’t like me taking his picture! At the end of their scan I received hugs from both mom and dad and shared an emotional moment with them. It’s those moments that really remind me how meaningful this job really is.
If you or someone you know is expecting a baby with trisomy 13 or 18 please reach out to us. We offer free 3D/4D scans for those who have been given the diagnosis. We know how precious every moment is with them and we would love to send you home with photos and a video that captures their unique personalities. Every baby is a blessing and whether their time here is short or long they will change the world. It may be your world or the whole world but the littlest feet make the biggest footprint on our hearts.
Hi! I’m Jessica, an ultrasound tech here at Sneak A Peek Ultrasound.
You may have seen me before at both Jonesboro and Conway locations.
If you have met me, hello again!
If you haven’t, welcome to our page!
I’ve been with Sneak A Peek for a year now and I have learned so much about babies and pregnancy that I thought I’d share a tech’s perspective with you about all sorts of topics.
Before I get started I’d like for you to get to know me. I graduated from Arkansas State University in 2012 with a Bachelors of Radiological Sciences in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (that’s fancy talk for ultrasound). If you’re a big Red Wolves fan you may have met me before! I was Howl for a big part of my college career. I kicked off my ultrasound career doing mobile ultrasounds and then landed a job at Forrest City Medical Center where I worked for a year. Currently, I’m engaged to another ultrasound tech, Jonathan, and in the process of moving to Paragould, AR.
I really look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences with you! I hope that you enjoy reading these blogs and hope that you find some of my blogs useful. Feel free to tell me what you think of my blog entries and if you have a topic you want discussed let me know!
Welcome to the Sneak A Peek Blog! We are looking forward to sharing lots of useful information with you! Our blog author is Jessica Mitchell. She’s one of our ultrasound techs who happens to be a great writer. We know you will find her posts informative and entertaining. We want to hear from you as well and would love to see your input on the topics you would like to have Jessica cover. She’s got a list going of some really interesting stuff. Stay tuned… the first post from Jessica is coming soon.