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Let the Monitoring Begin

Well, I was wrong. I don't get to escape the fetal non-stress tests (NST) after all. There have been no indicators up to this point that my single umbilical artery (a.k.a. SUA, a.k.a. two-vessel cord) has failed to feed the baby, and no evidence of related SUA defects such as kidney issues or heart problems exist. However, my doctor feels the combination of my advanced age, 38, and my SUA warrant these twice-weekly monitoring sessions.

Interestingly, or perhaps annoyingly, it's still up to me. She recommended it yesterday, knowing that I am not a fan of sonograms and such. The NST involves 30 minutes of fetal heart monitoring by doppler, followed by an ultrasound to check amniotic fluid levels.

She said we could wait another week if I wanted. She is willing to consider once-weekly instead of twice-weekly NSTs, because of my concerns/resistance.

I left the office thinking, "Who is driving this bus?"

She's the one with the MD. Do I really get to decide?

Why am I so against this? Aside from my general distrust of the medical establishment, I specifically am concerned about the technology used in fetal monitoring because of what I've read in birth-preparation books by esteemed authorities, including parenting.com expert, Dr. Sears.These writers note the risks involved with ultrasounds, and warn against overuse.

I saw a documentary on the womb that compared the noise created by ultrasound effects on amniotic fluid to a subway train. The baby's ears are fully functioning by now. I don't want to do that to him!

A recent article I read in a natural-mothering type magazine linking ultrasound to brain damage in rats served to only increase my unease.

So I wondered and worried all day, and then came home to the Internet to try to find some more answers.

What I saw were midwife bulletin boards that said SUA is a red herring, and the occasional post on various blogs where women mentioned that their doctors wanted to monitor them but that no problem was ever found, or that the problem their baby ended up having wasn't caught by the monitoring.

Although I have no medical training whatsoever to warrant my drawing this connection, I'm concerned that the increase in the use of ultrasound in recent years parallels the increase in autism, and not by accident. Apparently I'm not the only person wondering about this.

I know people in real life for whom NST led to induction or emergency cesarean birth because there was in fact a major problem: The placenta "pooped out" or amniotic fluid was low. This is more common, as far as I know, in pregnancies that go past term, but one acquaintance was another SUA mom — and pre-term.

I got scared. Maybe I'm resisting one risk at the risk of causing a greater harm. I called my doctor. I told her I would stop fighting, but I also asked her to please provide me with the statistics that support our following this somewhat aggressive protocol. She said she'd get me the articles.

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