'Ultrasound Parties': Are Pregnant Moms Oversharing or Simply Overjoyed?
You may soon be getting an invite to a new kind of event
Social media have allowed active Internet users to perfect, and maybe even abuse, the art of oversharing. So it seems inevitable that, with this new trend, offering "TMI" has headed offline straight into our homes.
Just as the recently married can exercise the right to show "morning-after" photos to their (likely frightened) wedding parties, pregnant couples can now invite family and friends to see their baby in utero at an "Ultrasound Party."
With the assistance of companies that provide the ultrasound machine and a licensed technician, expectant parents and their guests can learn the gender of the baby-to-be from the comfort of a living room.
If it sounds intrusive, Teena Gold and Christy Foster assure it's better than being impersonal. The founders of Baby Face and More offer the viewing of an in-home 30-minute scan session for $300. “It’s more of an experience and less of an in-and-out procedure," they told TODAY. "This way gets you out of that clinic setting." (Indeed, we've learned OB/GYN exams can be a hurried five to 15 minutes).
The duo may be on to something. From November 2011 to April 2012, nearly 2,000 videos of gender reveal parties were posted to YouTube, according to the New Yorker.
Still, Deena Blumenfeld, a lamaze-certified childbirth educator and prenatal yoga instructor, says an ultrasound can harm the baby.
"When used properly, an ultrasound will give you a biophysical profile of baby and can diagnose visible defects," she said. "Although it may seem to be a benign peek into the womb, it has some risks."
Blumenfeld pointed out that ultrasounds produce heat and vibration, which raise concerns about its overuse on a baby's brain and the potential impact on the development of other organs. Because the long-term side effects are unknown, she said their use should be limited.
She backs up her argument with a statement from the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (that was later endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Both organizations strongly "discouraged the non-medical use of ultrasound for psychosocial or entertainment purposes," such as creating keepsake photographs or videos.
(Sure enough, in addition to the viewing, Baby Face and More offers a DVD and USB flash drive of the entire scanning session with 15 black and white memento pictures, in addition to a recorded heartbeat keepsake.)
The AIUM and ACOG also maintain that "the use of either two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound to only view the fetus, obtain a picture of the fetus or determine the fetal gender without a medical indication is inappropriate" and that "nonmedical ultrasonography may falsely reassure women."
With the miscarriage rate for first-time pregnancies at 15 to 20 percent, some fear ultrasound parties will only heighten the heartbreak that can come with an unforeseen failed pregnancy.
“What if the ultrasonographer started the ultrasound and there was no heartbeat?" asked Dr. Amber Sills, an OB/GYN from Bentonville, Ark.
But some parents say the celebration helped them recover from such a situation.
Chad Berry and his wife, Camie, of Fort Meyers, Fla., lost five children—two to ectopic pregnancies and three in miscarriages—before giving birth to their now 14-year-old daughter Madisyn. They are now running Miracles Imaging, which offers sonogram parties.
So while Blumenfeld may state, "Ultrasounds are diagnostic tools, not party tricks," Babble writer Aelahmass says that even "less than 20 days after the horror and heartbreak of losing my own twins at 17-weeks pregnant"—that "pregnancy is freaking incredible [and] it should be shared with whomever wants to listen."