Saturday, January 24, 2015

Making sense of early pregnancy scans

For most women, pregnancy is a very exciting time ! However it can also be extremely nerve-wracking. For instance when you go for your scheduled ultrasound scans, there is a lot of trepidation in your mind because the results could be either positive or negative and in most cases, you are not too sure about what they exactly mean.

Is my baby fine? How many babies are there? Is the baby in the right position? Is the growth of my baby good? Is the heart beat strong? Is the pregnancy progressing well? These and a myriad other questions flood your mind especially when you have certain symptoms- and even when you don’t! Most women have morning sickness in their first trimester and if you don’t, the first thing you are going to be concerned about is whether anything is amiss.

Routine Tests

Since approximately 10% of all pregnancies fail, your doctor routinely conducts ultrasound scans for you. It’s the one way of reassuring you that all is well. If you have conceived after IVF, this becomes all the more necessary. Though an ultrasound has now become a routine test during early pregnancy, interpreting these scans is not a straightforward task.

The pregnancy grows and develops rapidly which means there can be dramatic changes in the scan findings over a few days. What was “normal” at 6 weeks may not be so at 8 weeks. In most cases, a sonographer or technician only does the scan and they do not discuss the scan results with the patient. When the technician directs you to speak with the doctor about the scan, you start scanning the situation with your “worry radar”.

Too Many Doubts

The suspense can be killing- you are able to see a sac on the scan but can’t really see a baby. This can be very aggravating and you wonder whether it means the baby has perished or whether it’s just too small to be clearly visible on the scan at this stage. The suspense becomes even more unbearable when the doctor can see the baby but not the heartbeat. At this point if your IVF doctor says – “We will have to do another scan next week to be able to figure out if all is well”, this pushes you deeper into the vortex of doubt.

Once again you are not sure about exactly what the condition of the baby is. At times the fault lies with the ultrasound machine which is unable to pick up the baby’s heartbeat. In some cases it could be just too early for your baby to have a heartbeat. There are just too many variables and the snowball of doubt and worry just gets bigger and bigger.

The Biological Variability Factor

In this frenzy of worry, you begin Googling extensively. You exchange notes with other women in online pregnancy forums to compare notes, and this sometimes fuels the already raging fire further. It’s important to understand that during pregnancy, the spectrum of biological variability can be very broad. While some babies will have a distinct heartbeat at 6-weeks, in other babies, it will be imperceptible till they are 7-weeks old.

But before you go overboard with all the worry and give yourself a few greys, simply visit and enter your scan findings. We will be able to tell you if your pregnancy is progressing normally or not. This is a free service, and we hope it will help reassure many women that their pregnancy is fine, so that they can enjoy it wholeheartedly, rather than worry needlessly!

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