Ultrasound Photos Are Not Something To Be Celebrated


A few months after my son's birth, I remember finding an old ultrasound photo from my pregnancy. I was only 8 weeks pregnant at the time of that ultrasound and Elan looked more like a kidney bean than a human. “Aaaw, he was so little!", I said, smiling. For some reason I thought it was the cutest thing in the world.

Two years have passed since that day. And in these two years, I’ve learned a lot. The birth that I thought was perfect — I now realize how I gave away my power. And that ultrasound photo? I no longer smile when I look at it. 

Now, I look at that picture and cringe, imagining what it might have felt like for him to be peacefully floating in my womb and then out of nowhere, pelted with jarring vibrations, heat and sound "as loud as a subway train". I think about the possible damage that ultrasound did to his developing brain and I remember the uninformed doctor who thought it was a good idea to stick a wand up my vagina so that we could get that lovely photo. He never bothered to mention that ultrasound has never been proven safe. Hell, I doubt he's ever even thought twice about it.

What I just described -- it's one of my biggest "live and learn" moments. I don't carry the weight of guilt or regret, but I'm certainly no longer naive enough to think of that photo as "cute". (What an insult "cute" would be to the babies who have to experience this!)

I see it all the time. 

Ultrasound photos in pregnancy announcements, framed, on the fridge, or posted on social media with happy emojis. 

Sometimes, the people sharing these photos are people that I know personally. I know they’ve read my ultrasound post and we’ve even had conversations about the dangers. Then, a few weeks later, I see them proudly sharing their ultrasound photo and I wonder why I even waste my breath.

“Why don’t people take me seriously when I talk about this?!”

Finally it hit me. 

Maybe people ignore my warnings about ultrasound because we’re just so used to seeing it celebrated. 

We’re used to that scene in the movie where the woman hears her baby’s heartbeat for the first time and tears stream down her face. 

Ultrasound can’t possibly be *that* bad if it makes people so happy, right?

Or maybe it’s because people with expensive degrees and white coats tell us it’s safe, and that we’re silly for even asking. They even go so far as to tell us it's necessary, as if it's impossible to have a healthy pregnancy without it. We see doctors and midwives using ultrasound without restraint and think, “If ultrasound were dangerous, they would know.”

This needs to stop.

Ultrasound photos are not something to be celebrated.

This is what I see when I look at an ultrasound photo:

  • A disempowered mother, who has been convinced that only a machine can tell her about her body and her baby. 
  • A well-intentioned doctor or midwife, who believes that a monitored pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy and that women aren't capable of growing and birthing their children alone. Numbers, measurements, drugs, tools -- "They save lives."
  • A baby -- maybe confused, scared or in pain -- who has just been physically assaulted and has no way to make sense of the experience. A baby who will spend a lifetime having to deal with the effects that ultrasound had on his/her developing body. 
  • A culture so far-removed from nature that many of us don't even know a woman who has grown and birthed a baby without ultrasound technology and other medical interventions. 
  • FEAR. Fear of birth, fear of death, fear of nature. So much fear that we're willing to *knowingly* expose our child to dangerous technology in order to temporarily ease that fear.

We need to wake up and stop looking at these pictures with hearts in our eyes. 

We need to stop letting our doctors, midwives and "health professionals" make choices for us.

The made-up narrative that "ultrasound is safe and necessary" -- we need to drop it. We need to start accepting that some things we've always thought of as "safe" are nowhere near safe.

And most importantly, we need to step up and make conscious decisions for ourselves and our families. 

There are other ways to celebrate pregnancy. Ways that don’t involve hurting our unborn babies. 

I'll leave you with a snippet of a brilliant post by Yolande Clark of Bauhauswife:

"When I see mothers sharing the macabre blurry black and white ultrasound photo and with comments about how adorable 'their baby' is, it literally makes me want to cry.

That is not "your baby". That is a brutal facsimile of the shape of your baby's body, derived via the invasive use of high frequency soundwaves. YOU are your baby. You are the most sensitive instrument on the planet. YOU are the most attuned diagnostician of your baby's well-being. YOU are a living organism, a being of sun and the water and the oceans. You are your baby. Your baby is you. Routine ultrasound is industrial capitalism using you. You deserve better."

For more on the dangers of Ultrasound: