The extra time required to film the images could interfere in providing ultrasounds for other women. As well, an ultrasound might be requested for recreational or entertainment purposes rather than for medical reasons.
Tremendous advances in ultrasound have given us the ability to see clear pictures of a fetus (unborn baby) in the womb. Early ultrasound images were quite fuzzy and could be difficult to interpret. Today’s 3-D images can show distinct features of the baby. Another new ultrasound, 4-D, shows the baby in motion almost like a movie.
Most radiology clinics provide excellent service for both patients and their doctors and midwives who order the ultrasound. Trained ultrasound technicians and radiology doctors know what to look for in a pregnancy ultrasound and can provide a standardized report of their findings. Some care providers prefer certain clinics. They may find the reports of one clinic are easier to read or are received sooner.
Perhaps the radiologists are easier to communicate with in regard to a particular concern, or the women using the clinics have offered positive comments about the service. If you are offered a choice of where to receive your ultrasound, you may wish to ask about your care provider’s preference and the reasons for it.
Across the country, women experience varying degrees of difficulty in getting a necessary ultrasound. In rural areas, it can be due to a lack of local service. In urban areas, clinics may be fully booked with no available appointments. If clinic technicians spend extra time taking and producing photos for each pregnant woman’s family album, someone with an equal or greater need for an ultrasound may not be able to get one.
Often people want ultrasounds for personal reasons. Perhaps they would like to find out the baby’s gender, want the grandmother-to-be to see the unborn baby, or are simply seeking reassurance that all is well. Expectant parents often pressure doctors or midwives to order unnecessary ultrasounds. Such ultrasounds cost the health care system money and may take appointments away from those who really need them.
Recently ‘recreational’ or ‘entertainment’ ultrasounds have been developed to serve these types of requests. These ultrasound services offer pregnancy ultrasounds purely for the joy and satisfaction of the family involved. This can help parents bond with an unborn child and may be a very positive experience. The baby’s first photos or video can become keepsakes. Such services allow medical care providers to resist pressure to order unnecessary ultrasounds. Although ultrasound is safe for mother and baby, some concerns are associated with accessing this service outside the healthcare system.
Parents may receive a false sense of security from having a recreational ultrasound. Since the ultrasound is not intended as a medical service, it may not conform to medical standards. The person doing the ultrasound may not be skilled enough to recognize abnormalities in the baby or placenta. If a doctor or midwife believes there is a medical reason for an ultrasound, might the need be seen as less urgent following a recreational ultrasound? Could a woman decide not to have a medically required ultrasound because she just had a recreational version? If so, something important might be missed.
Too many ultrasounds can create an information overload for parents. With unnecessary tests of any kind, additional information may be of no importance but can still create anxiety. What if something unusual is seen on the recreational ultrasound? Will the person doing the recreational ultrasound make sure the information gets to the caregiver?
Since it is not a medical service, the ultrasound would then need to be checked by a certified radiologist. If the finding is insignificant, the health care system will have incurred unnecessary cost. The family will also have endured a period of anxiety while answers were sought.If the unusual finding is significant, a recreational ultrasound might lead to additional care benefitting both mother and baby. If nothing can be done, then once again, it might lead to increased anxiety for the family.
Most families want to catch a glimpse of their expected baby whenever possible. This desire can be a bit like wanting to know what you’re getting as a gift before your birthday arrives. Some like the idea and others find it takes away from the excitement of the big day. If you are considering a recreational ultrasound in pregnancy, consider discussing it with your doctor or midwife first.