My Pregnancy Diary - Week 8

Well, my gorgeous little butter bean is now 14-20mm long and the chronicles of my pregnancy diary continue.

I couldn't do up all the buttons on one of my shirts this week. Admittedly it was already a tight shirt, but I think vanity is going to left at the wayside a lot earlier in this pregnancy. I know that's what happens the second time around, but I thought being a ballet dancer I might be immune. I'm still working on my posture and alignment though - it can make all the difference!

The other question people often ask when they find out you're pregnant, is if youre going to find if you're having a boy or a girl. At the moment my hubby and I are still at the stage where we'd like to find out. We are completely not stressed as to which we get - but we'd just like to know. I feel that it really helps to make things more real, and with a toddler on the way I feel it will just be easier to be able to say he or she, not that the toddler even understands gender yet. So we dont really have any good reason other than just because. Maybe I should find out if any studies have been done that have detected any difference between families where parents did find out and families where they didn't.

I can't just wear the elasticated skirt hitched up under my arms this time...

Even if we do have another girl, most of my clothes will be useless because our first was born in summer (Southern hemisphere!) and the second will be in winter. That goes for my maternity clothes too. I might have to actually buy or make some more this time because there will be more layers to wear. I can't just wear the elasticated skirt hitched up under my arms.

I phoned to make my 12 week appointment with the doctor who will be doing backup for my midwife, and I was told to bring a writable DVD to record the scan. I'm wondering if I'll be able to get away without doing the scan. I just want to hear the heartbeat and I'll be good. I think. We had over 4 scans last time - the first one was slightly too early so we had to go back, then we had the regular 12 week one, then I had the 20 week and the 3D scan, and the doctor did a quick scan once or twice just to check things out. I've been reading up about ultrasounds and what I've been reading hasnt been very encouraging.

In a 1993 randomised, controlled study of 2834 women, aiming to prove that ultrasound was completely harmless, they found that the group who had 5 scans (1415 women) had a higher rate of intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR) than those who had only 1 at 18 weeks (1419 women). The rate was in fact one-third more IUGR in the group that had 5 scans. (Check the reference at the bottom.)

So it seems that ultrasound scans may even cause exactly what they are said to detect. Apparently, a good physical exam by an experienced midwife can actually be more accurate at detecting IUGR than an ultrasound. Obviously there are some compelling reasons to have a number of scans, where the risk of the scan outweighs the risk of not having the scan but I think a more judicious approach on the whole would be wise. Look out for an article on this!

So I'm thinking of just having one scan - the 20 week one. My midwife requires you to at least have the 20 week one to check for anything possible contra-indications for natural delivery - like placenta praevia or something. Another reason I'd like to avoid the 12 week one is that I think it can just cause unnecessary stress. If there is something wrong, I know I'm not going to terminate, but I am going to stress about it, and stress doesn't help anybody, least of all the baby. If there is anything to be found out, I can find it out at the 20 weeks scan. It's still plenty of time to process things, with 2 months less of stress.

Also, one friend was told she might have placenta praevia, and she was really keen on a home birth, so she had to stress about it until the next scan, by which time the placenta had moved out of the way. Even the nuchal translucency test for Down Syndrome isn't completely accurate, and a positive test often leads to an amniocentesis, which increases the chance of miscarriage. Currently the chance of miscarriage after an amnio stands at 1 in 400.

It's not the size of the baby that is your enemy, it's the fear of the 'big baby' that is your enemy.

So I'm happy to have another 2 months of blissful ignorance until my 20 week scan and we can do the whole hog then... And I'm not going to go for scans close to my due date either. The closer you get to your due date, the less accurate they get in determining size, and they can be up to 500g / 1lb out either way. One thing about delivering big babies naturally is that it's not the size of the baby that is your enemy, it's the fear of the 'big baby' that is your enemy. My uncle was apparently 17lb at birth; born vaginally, third child of a midwife. His nickname given at birth means something along the lines of 'big boy' because he was so huge. Most people know him by that name today!

He took a size 14 (UK) in the navy - they didn't even have boots in his size, they had to get army boots and paint / dye them for him. I suppose the fact that one of his uncles was a 7 foot boxer had something to do with it... I could say a lot more about big babies, but this isn't the time or the place. Register for the RSS feed and you'll be notified when I put links up to some of the topics I've mentioned.

Hopefully you still find this at least mildly interesting! If you'd like to read some more of my pregnancy diary, weeks 9 and 10 particularly, you can find them here.

References:

Newnham, J. P. et al. 1993. Effects of frequent ultrasound during pregnancy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. 342(8876):887-891. Link.

Cnattingius, J. 1984. Screening for Intrauterine Growth Retardation. Doctoral dissertation, Uppsala University, Sweden.

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