Ultrasound in pregnancy has become such a routine procedure that you may not even have thought to question this medical intervention. After all, it’s an exciting part of early pregnancy, almost a right of passage and the first way that many couples now announce their pregnancy – with that little black and white photo on Facebook.
I’m not going to talk about the potential physical side effects of ultrasound. That’s up to you to do your research but if you’re interested in knowing more, a good starting point is Dr Sarah Buckley.
What I’m going to talk about is why I would love you to rethink that early ultrasound. You might not have thought about this before…
Many of my clients are super keen for that early ultrasound because they need confirmation that everything is ok. At 8-12 weeks it can be too early for most women to show any physical signs of pregnancy. Sure, you might feel nauseous and like you have a permanent hangover, but except for that and tender breasts or having to pee more often, its not like you can tell you’re pregnant. There isn’t any discernible bump to prove that there’s a baby on board.
The first trimester can be a psychologically challenging time. There’s an unspoken rule that most women seem to wait until 12 weeks before announcing the pregnancy, a pact that reflects the fear of miscarriage in the first trimester. For many women, especially those who might have previously experienced miscarriage, an early ultrasound provides reassurance – they can see the tiny sign of a heart beating.
Unfortunately, a heart beating at 8 weeks doesn’t guarantee that the pregnancy will be ok.
There really is no reason to have an ultrasound at this early stage because it can’t make a difference to whether the pregnancy will continue or not. If the ultrasound detects no heart beat, your body will miscarry naturally in a couple of weeks. If the ultrasound detects a heart beat, you might still miscarry. Unfortunately it happens.
On the other hand, ultrasound is an intervention and not without risk. Despite the increasingly common and routine use of ultrasound in early pregnancy, the truth is we don’t know the effect of ultrasound on foetal development but we do know that guidelines advise against the use of ultrasound before 12 weeks unless absolutely necessary.
The reason I would love you to rethink early ultrasound has nothing to do with any of this. And nor does it have to do with the implications a dating scan will have on establishing an EDD and the associated pressure to be induced for every day that goes beyond that EDD.
What I would like you to consider is how a seemingly harmless early ultrasound has the potential to set in motion a chain of events that can effect your entire pregnancy, your birth and even mothering.
Every time you choose an external source to reassure you that everything is ok, you strengthen the neural pathways that teach you that the way to know what is best for you and your baby is to be found from an external authority.
At the same time, when you choose to depend upon an external authority for reassurance you weaken the neural pathways that connect you to the inner knowing that all women possess – your intuitive body wisdom.
It’s simply a matter of brain development.
As a modern woman, you’ve probably been taught that when you first think you’re pregnant, you do a pregnancy test. Now, generally at this stage you know you’re pregnant. The pregnancy test confirms what you already know. You don’t really need to pee on a strip, and you certainly don’t really need to have a blood test. You know.
This inner knowing that comes from inside and can’t always be explained is called your intuitive body wisdom.
Some women know the moment they conceive. I did.
Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of technological advancement as it applies to pregnancy and birth is that it teaches us to over ride this intuitive body wisdom in preference of physical measurements and tests.
So even though you know you’re pregnant, you don’t trust it unless a physical test or measurement confirms it.
Another way of looking at this is over riding the feminine, right brain abilities of intuitive knowing in favour of the masculine, left brain pursuit of analytical understanding.
Like all skills and abilities the more you use it, the more it develops. Use it or loose it.
Now, on its own an ultrasound in early pregnancy might seem a fairly harmless thing.
But, as the beginning of a journey that informs how you choose to approach your pregnancy either from a place of inner awareness and connection or from a point of seeking external authority, that has huge implications.
The more you learn to develop your intuitive body wisdom, the greater you develop connection to the parts of your brain that know how to birth and know what your baby needs, its instinctual.
These skills don’t happen overnight. In order to make it in the career world, modern women have learnt to become highly left brain, masculine dominant. These are the analytical, rational, logical neural pathways that you’ve practiced again and again since primary school when the focus was on maths and english rather then art.
Learning to develop your inner world, the right brain world of feminine intuition is not something our culture actively encourages. That’s because the feminine is the great mystery. She is the unknowable – the expansive reaches of infinite possibility – the creative conscious. It is this unknowable quality that fills the masculine, critical consciousness with dread. Rather then being able to surrender to the Unknowable, the critical consciousness in us all wants to be able to control, wants to keep us ‘safe’ by trying to manage the unknowable: to compartmentalise, analysis and rationalise. It is based in fear.
It is scary to be in the face of the Unknowable. Every woman who has stood at the threshold of birth and embodied the word surrender is a testimony to the word courage.
Natural childbirth is the ultimate surrender to the feminine pathways of instinct and intuition. Preparing for natural childbirth is learning to get comfortable with the unknown. It’s learning to relinquish the parts of your brain that seek to control and to expand your capacity to trust your inner guidance and act on it.
This is a choice that you must practice every day.
And these are choices that begin long before your day of birth. It’s the small but consistent actions that you take that shape your destiny.
Saying yes to a dating ultrasound scan might seem like no big deal, but before you make this choice I would invite you to rethink:
Do I really need this intervention?
What benefit does it offer to me and my baby?
What are the potential risks?
Why am I making this decision?
Is my decision based on fear or trust?
What does my intuition say?
THE BAO MAI MERIDIAN
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a special meridian, known as Bao Mai, that connects the Heart to the Womb. It is this Bao Mai connection that allows the inner communication between mother and child.
To strengthen your Bao Mai connection, place one hand over your heart space in the centre of your chest and the other hand over your lower abdomen, just below your belly button. You’ll find even just holding your hands in this position is centering and creates a sense of connection.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathing deeply, notice how your hands rise in unison with each inhalation as your belly and chest expand, and then how both hands move in unison with each exhalation falling back toward your spine.
Using your imagination or your visualisation, notice if you can sense a connection between your Heart and Womb.
Repeat this exercise daily and learn to listen to the voice within.