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The Risks of Ultrasound Exposure

A critical look at a normalized technology.




First, lets explore what ultrasound is. Ultrasound waves are HIGH FREQUENCY sound waves that produce an image on a screen from the echo of these waves on tissues (a developing baby in the womb). For reference, audible sound waves travel at 20-20,000 cycles per second; whereas ultra-sound waves travel at 1-20 million waves per second. These waves emit heat, sound, as well as burst air pockets [gas], potentially causing deleterious effects to developing lungs, intestines and brains.


(I’ve attached additional links to studies, podcasts, articles in the footnotes).


Ultrasounds are used widely, at multiple points during a woman’s pregnancy in the allopathic system (this very much includes the medicalized midwifery model). The frequency of their use in almost all medically managed pregnancies is employed despite very limited safety testing. Some mothers and babies have upwards of 4 sonograms during pregnancy, some have many, many more.


The *routine* use of ultrasounds to date a pregnancy (6 weeks), nuchal translucency scan (12 weeks), the anatomy scan (18-20 weeks), to determine the position of the baby or the placenta, or size of the baby is problematic in its objective to pathologize [and sabotage] a sacred pregnancy and natural birth.


An estimated 40% of abnormalities are missed, and the use of ultrasound testing DOES NOT improve outcomes. Read that again.


What else does this test and the inherent management around it, take from the mother? To her ability to intuitively connect to her baby? To her sense of sovereignty in the sacredness of this journey? To her ability to connect to her innate mammalian instincts? Why are the risks to her baby not understood by the mothers who consent (or submit) to the routine tests required by their regulated health care provider?


Many medical providers will pressure women to receive additional scans as frequently as every couple days in late pregnancy, threatening interventions including induction, or risking them out of home birth if they do not comply, but at the same time they also risk being pathologized at every scan when they do submit. This pressure stems from the liability structure within medical and midwifery practices (the use of this technology provides security for the medical authority ordering the test).


The accuracy of dating scans is shoddy at best, and creates additional pressure for a labour to begin spontaneously within a narrow window (that may not even be accurate). The astronomical rate of labour induction and caesareans within the allopathic system unequivocally tell us that the structure within the system does not serve women or babies.


How many times have we heard the story that the baby played ‘hide and seek’ with the ultrasound technician, and how "cute" it was? While the ultrasound may be inaudible to the mother, to the technician and to others in the room--inside a water-filled womb, the sound waves have been likened to a helicopter taking off next to your head, or as loud as a subway coming in to a station. These high frequency sound waves do also produce heat, which may contribute to cellular damage, and are potentially linked to miscarriage. (I’ve personally experienced a miscarriage following an ultrasound).


For women who receive a diagnosis of Placenta Previa during their routine anatomy scan (18-20 weeks), the placenta will move up during the remainder of the pregnancy for 80 to 100% percent of these women. Additionally, the early detection of this “condition” has not been found to improve safety when compared to detection in labour. Many women will be “risked out” of their birth plans over this.


When we look at detecting amniotic fluid levels, again—we are employing a technology with inherent risks. Arguably, a midwife worth her weight in salt can assess the levels via palpation, observation and conversation with the mother, and provide nutrition and hydration recommendations, if indicated.


Mothers tend to feel disconnected from their child when they are told that there is some “concern” with the health of their baby. Many mothers will continue with a pregnancy after being told that there is a concern with their babies, only to find that their baby wasn't afflicted by any condition at all; however they will experience significant distress during their pregnancy. Though it's ignored by the medical community, a baby’s brain development is impacted by how safe their mother felt during pregnancy.


From a metaphysical standpoint—and one certainly worth noting, these procedures are life-depleting.


From a religious perspective, the drive to diagnose any conditions which might encourage parents to consider terminating the pregnancy and killing their unborn child is problematic {to put it mildly].


In any case, women on the conscious path will ask themselves “why do I/my care provider want this information?” as well as “what will I do with this information?”, when deciding what [if any] testing is in the best interest of both them and their unborn babies.



More information on ultrasounds in pregnancy:


:: BOOKS ::


‘Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering’ by Sarah J. Buckley, MD


‘Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities’ by Henci Goer


‘Sacred Birthing’ by Sunni Karll


‘The Dark Side of Prenatal Ultrasound’ by Jeanice Barcelo



:: PODCASTS ::


‘Ending Trauma: Dangers of Hospital Birth, Ultrasound & Circumcision’ Episode no. 308 on The Life Stylist Podcast, October 6, 2020


‘Unpacking Ultrasound With Yolande Clark – Free Birth Society Podcast, April 12, 2018


'Ultrasound, Unsound' The Midwitch Podcast, April 18, 2019



:: ARTICLES ::




Sarah Buckley, Ultrasound Scans - Cause For Concern, Sarah Buckley.com, 2005.


Jennifer Margulis, Are Ultrasounds Causing Autism in Unborn Babies?, The Daily Beast, April 29, 2013.


Sima Ash, Can Ultrasounds During Pregnancy Cause Autism, Natural Health 365, June 12, 2013.


John E. Robinson, More Thoughts on Ultrasound, Questions About Risk, and Autism, jerobison.blogspot.com, May 28, 2012. http://jerobinson.blogspot.com/2012/05/more-thoughts-on-ultrasound-questions.html







:: SCIENTIFIC STUDIES ::











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