Ultrasound

To Have Or Not To Have The 12-Week Scan?

As you’re approaching the end of the first trimester, you’re probably feeling better and already looking forward to meeting the new member of your family. The opportunity to see your baby for the first time usually comes at 11-13 weeks in the form of an ultrasound screening test called nuchal translucency (NT), which is used to assess your baby’s risk of Down syndrome and some other genetic abnormalities. You’d also have a blood test at the same time and the chance of your baby having Down syndrome is calculated based on these two tests and your age.

The test outcome is not a conclusive diagnosis. It can’t tell you for sure if your baby will have a Down syndrome or not, it can only give you the probability of it happening. If you want to have a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, you’ll have to have further testing which comes with a risk of miscarriage (although a non-invasive testing has recently become available at extra cost).

Before you decide to have the test, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re doing it and how you’d react to various possible results. Will you proceed with all the necessary tests and then terminate the pregnancy if your baby is found to have Down syndrome? Would you take the risk of miscarrying a perfectly healthy baby just to find out for sure? Or will you keep your baby no matter what? And would possible high probability score make you stress for the rest of the pregnancy?

All these questions were weighing heavy on my mind the first time I was about to have the scan. By the end of the first trimester I felt already madly in love with my baby and I couldn’t even contemplate an abortion, regardless of what test results said. Besides, even if the results came back , for example, as 1 in 4 probability, which is extremely high, I was still 3 times more likely to have a healthy baby than not and further tests were going to put that baby at risk (non-invasive testing wasn’t available back then). That’s why I was hesitant to have the NT scan in the first place. Of course, it would be nice to end up in the low risk category and gain peace of mind. But what if I didn’t?

Statistics show that only 5% of the women who take the test fall into the high risk group. And of those with high risk, 96% will have healthy babies. Yet the doubt will be there nagging at me. What if? There was also the possibility of family pressure to consider. I wasn’t sure how my family and friends would react in the event of a high probability and I had a suspicion that they might not be as supportive as I’d like (maybe, I was wrong).

I ended up pulling out at the last moment, even though I had the scan already booked. I declined it with my next two babies, too. By that time I’d done all the thinking already and it was a no-brainer. I just went on with my job of growing healthy human beings.

Whether you choose to have the scan or not, don’t do it just because it’s there and everyone else is doing it. Talk to your doctor, weigh up your pros and cons carefully, and get counselling if you need it.

Image by PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

August 19, 2014

Will You Find Out The Sex Of Your Unborn Baby?

When some friends recently announced they were expecting another child, the age old debate reared its head once again – are you going to find out the sex of your baby?  They were quick to say no, deciding to wait until the baby is born before finding out if they have been blessed with a boy or a girl.  My husband and I on the other hand, looked at each other and wondered how some couples can wait so long to find out.  How do they know what colour to paint the nursery?  How will they know what clothes to buy?

So I decided to compile a list of pros and cons to help new parents make the decision about whether or not to find out the sex of their unborn baby:

PROS:

  • Most parents choose to find out the sex of their child because they want to be organised.  It means that you can choose the colour for the nursery accordingly and you can buy baby clothes and accessories in the ‘right’ colour.  Although that’s not to say that a boy can’t wear yellow and a girl can’t wear blue, some people just want to have specific colours – they don’t like to be restricted to buying neutral whites and greys.
  • The baby name list can be slashed in half.  As if choosing a name for your baby isn’t hard enough, but having two lists – one for the girls and one for the boys just seems so difficult!  Having only one set of names to ponder over can be far easier.
  • At twenty weeks pregnant some women feel extremely despondent that there is still another twenty weeks or so until their bundle of treasure arrives.  Finding out the sex of the baby gives them a boost – it’s a welcome surprise amongst what can be some extremely hard months for women.  Some find that it helps them to form a stronger bond with their unborn child, making the rest of their pregnancy easier.

CONS:

  • There is no surprise when your baby is finally born.  You already know if it’s going to be a boy or a girl, so the only surprise you get is seeing if your little one has daddy’s nose or mummy’s eyes.
  • There is a chance that the ultrasound was interpreted incorrectly.  Occasionally, certain body parts can be mistaken for the baby’s genitals which unfortunately means that the sex of the baby is the opposite of what you’ve been told.  All those months of planning for a baby boy or girl could have been a complete waste of time when you discover the true sex of your baby.
  • You miss out on all of the fun while everyone around you tries to guess the sex of your baby.  There are endless lists of old wives tales which claim to predict the sex of your baby.  Part of the fun of not knowing is testing these theories out.  Am I having a boy because I’m carrying so low? Or is the ring swinging back and forth rather than in a circle because I’m having a girl?

Whether you choose to find out the sex of your baby or not should be you and your partner’s decision alone.  Don’t try to be swayed by family and friends who are eager to find out the sex so they can buy appropriate gifts.  Finding out so early is a luxury these days – years ago women didn’t have that option, so if they had to wait, why can’t we?

Image via todaysparent.com/pregnancy/how-far-would-you-go-to-choose-your-babys-gender/

By Karyn Miller

June 2, 2014

Three Trimesters of Pregnancy – What To Expect From Each

A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, and the pregnancy timeline is divided into three trimesters, each of which has its own joys and challenges, from the moment you find out you’re expecting to the moment you give birth. Here’s a look at what you can expect from each part of the three trimesters of pregnancy.

First trimester

The most exciting time in the first trimester is when you find out for sure that you’re pregnant! This period, which lasts through the 13th week of your pregnancy, is the most crucial time for the development of your baby, and also, sadly, the time when things are most likely to go wrong. The baby’s body and organs are growing and developing, and most miscarriages happen during the first trimester.

Your body is telling you that you’re pregnant in many ways, including breast tenderness, nausea, frequent urination and fatigue. Toward the end of the first trimester, you may see the beginnings of a baby bump.

This is the period when you get your first ultrasound and see your baby for the first time. Also, you should be having tests for possible genetic issues.

Second trimester

During the second trimester, you may find some of the maladies of the first three months disappearing, only to be replaced by a new set. Between weeks 14 and 26, you may experience abdominal pain, leg cramps, back pain, heartburn and constipation. The most exciting moment of this period is likely to be when you feel your baby move for the first time.

At this point, you’re definitely going to need maternity clothes!

The third trimester

By now, you’re getting excited about finally giving birth and can’t wait to meet your new baby! The last of the pregnancy stages lasts from 27 weeks to birth, and your uterus has now expanded from 60g before conception to just over 1kg. You have a whole new set of symptoms to deal with, like varicose veins, hemorrhoids, shortness of breath and difficulties sleeping.

Make sure you take the time to plan for your trip to the hospital and have everything ready for the day you bring baby home. By now you should have a due date and may already know your baby’s sex.

Meanwhile, your baby is very busy getting ready to be born. He or she is adding layers of fat to stay warm after birth and is finishing development of the lungs. Preterm labour is still a risk, but the baby’s chances of a healthy birth increase with every week in the womb.

Now is the time to get plenty of relaxation!

August 9, 2013