Since my first child was in 2006 and my second 2008 I didn't think a lot would change in childbirth during that time.. but I certainly don't remember all of this testing at 5-6 weeks on my previous birth boards. Very early ultrasounds, serial BETA HCG tests...
When did this become so common place? I can see it with women that might require supplemental progesterone (or similar medical indications).. but it seems that nearly every woman with an OB is getting these tests, and some even have a midwife.
And the worry it causes! My heart aches for the women that have an u/s at 5 weeks and they don't see a heartbeat.. or they're stressed over their HCG levels not being perfectly doubled in 48 hours.
I can't imagine being so medically scrutinized right from the beginning. I have to wonder what benefit can be derived from this with most women? It's not as if a m/c can really be prevented at this stage. It seems to cause more concern than it's worth? What are your 2 cents?
It kills me too. To the point if I were offered a free ultrasound at 6 weeks, I'd turn it down. I've seen it go wrong far more than I've seen it go right- to the extent that one poor mother was told by her doc that there was no fetus in the sac, and to take a pill to help the miscarriage along... only to find in the aftermath of the miscarriage a perfectly formed fetus, just as far along as she should have been. Talk about heartbreaking.
Like you said, a miscarriage isn't preventable at that point, and the stress of an ultrasound with less-than-perfect results (which is super common that early) is not going to help anyone!
I can understand betas and "dating" ultrasounds for certain cases, but that would be an exception, not a rule.
Yes, it's definitely overkill, and I honestly think the majority of those tests are to pad pockets. I don't think we'd see them being ordered so much if we had universal healthcare; I belong to an HMO and they won't do those kinds of tests for just anyone. Because of my age, I wanted to have a CVS test, which is done between 10 & 12 weeks, so I also had to have a dating ultrasound between 7 & 8 weeks, to ensure that the CVS test would be within the proper timeframe. That made sense with Tiven when the pregnancy was unexpected, but with Weston I'd been TTC for 2+ years so I *knew* when I conceived, but they still made me get the ultrasound.
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My perspective on this is a little skewed because I've dealt with recurrent losses. I do think that in most cases all that testing is more trouble than it's worth. Unless there is a reason to suspect a problem I think serial betas and early ultrasounds are unnecessary and probably do cause too much stress.
That said, because of my losses, I'll stress no matter what. With my last pregnancy I had 3 repeat betas done once a week (I have had low progestrone in the past) and then weekly ultrasounds from 7 to 15 weeks. For me it reduced my stress tremendously. I know it can't change the outcome, but all of my losses were "missed" so I worried all the time that something was wrong. Even in my case, my doctor won't do an ultrasound before 7 weeks. I personally think it's crazy to do it any earlier.
With my first two pregnancies when we didn't have a reason to suspect anything was wrong, I only had one beta to confirm pregnancy and one ultrasound around 8 weeks to confirm a heartbeat. I think that's a lot more reasonable and probably still more than is really necessary.
I was surprised at all the early tests and u/s on my birth board. I was used to waiting, similar to with my DS's pregnancy in 2007, heard the heartbeat with the doppler at 14 weeks, got the anatomical scan around 20 weeks. This time around I heard the heartbeat earlier, b/c my MW was willing to try even though it was still a little early...but yeah, does seem like overkill. I understand the use of these tests in cases of a history of losses, fertility problems, significant bleeding, etc. but otherwise it does seem odd.
I do think it is a bit much as well, but I am also in the same mind set as Shannon. Because I've had a couple losses and my last pg with DS my progesterone plummeted, I was put on supplements and who knows if that's what helped me sustain the pregnancy or not, but I wanted it checked this time too. Now, the HCG was not as important to me, although it was nice to see as the progesterone.
And I am a bit surprised that my birth center is actually doing an early u/s (at 8 weeks). I was just assuming that they would do the 20 week one and that be it.
I am very surprised at the number of women who are having all of the testing done so early with it being their first baby. And the number of women who have early u/s and show no heartbeat and are super upset are upsetting to me.
I had a friend last year who had her OB try with the doppler to find the heart beat at 8 weeks and surprise, surprise, nothing. So she was worried (because the dr made her feel that way) until a few days later when she went in for an u/s. I am furious at that doctor who would try a doppler even though she was going to get an u/s already in a few days. ugh.
I agree that in most cases it does creat more concern than it is worth. I totally understand it for those that have had a history, sounds like it give a better peace of mind. But for most without a history I think it is an overkill. I saw the same thing on my BB this time with all the stress some went through with numbers, levels, and testing. I don't think I could deal with that personally.
In 2005 they did the 1st scan at 12 weeks and last at 20. Didn't listen to HB till maybe 16 weeks. And no early testing was pushed. I had a feeling things had changed and are pushed more so I didn't bother seeing an OB this time because of that. Been with my HB MW since 8 weeks, with no testing other than HB and 1 scan at later dates, and what a great frame of mind it has kept me in. Its sad that the norm in care has become so over done with testing and extra stress to the mom.
~Joy~ DS1-8/5/05, DS2-10/18/10 (VBAC#1), DS3- 4/11/12 (VBAC#2!)
Looking at this from the outside (TTC, but no kids yet) I'll bet a lot of this does have to do with insurance...but not just mom's insurance. In the past 3-5 years the cost of malpractice insurance for OB/GYNs has multiplied dramatically. Many doctors are probably using every test at their disposal in order to try to prevent lawsuits later on. And, the pressure from moms-to-be probably makes doctors think that if they don't do a requested test or u/s, the family will come back at them if there is a loss.
As pp have said, they can't do much to prevent early on. I worry at what impact all of these early u/s may have on development. So many things are unsafe in the first trimester. Ya gotta wonder.
2011/2012 - 1 M/C, 5 CPs
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i did an early u/s because i wasn't sure of my dates and wanted to know for sure. other wise i didn't do any early testing or at least they didn't tell me about it if they did it.
Jade, momma to Ariana 5/23/06 and Trystan 9/28/10
I think that for most women, these early tests are not at all necessary. It causes way too much stress. I had lots of betas and an early U/S at 7 weeks, but that was because I was seeing an RE, had low progesterone and needed supplements, a chemical pregnancy and had done IUI with meds. I don't think that it should be standard for every woman to get all of that done.