Archive for June 2010
After childbirth, you may not feel constantly low or always happy, but it is true that having a new baby and coping with the changes this brings can give you intense highs and terrible lows as you move from feeling ecstatic about your new baby to unbelievably exhausted the next. The best advice to a new parent is to be realistic about what parenthood involves. If you approach life with your new baby aware that you are both likely to be incredibly tired, that you will have far less time to yourselves, and that the structure of your life will change enormously,, then you will be better placed to take the highs and the lows of parenthood in your stride. Accepting that you are not “perfect” parents can help you view parenthood as a constant learning curve, and to enjoy the enriching experience. You and your partner can help you view parenthood as a constant learning curve, and to enjoy the enriching experience. You and your partner can help each other deal with the demands of parenthood by being patient with each other and helping each other with the daily care of your baby. You can also make sure you allow each other some regular time off to do something for yourselves such as meeting up with friends or getting some exercise. Parenting ought to be an idyllic experience, buy may bot be once the realities of physical and emotional stress take their toll. However, many new parents do experience a sense of euphoria, which can be brief or last for awhile. All of us have unique reactions to becoming a parent, and expectations from childhood, family, and friends influence this, as does your experience with pregnancy. For families who don’t feel as positive, there are many ways to enhance the experience of parenthood, such as giving your baby a massage, taking family walks, and enjoying time together.
You are not alone if you are an expecting mother and this is one of your fears. While studying to be a midwife, or to obtain your sonography degree, lots of women may ask about this very thing and express nervousness. They do not want to pass stool while in labor and possibly in front of a spouse, partner, or family member. It may not be what you want to hear, but in fact a large number of women do defecate usually during the second, or third stage of labor. This is totally natural and happens as the baby’s head comes down the vagina and pushes against the rectum. If there is feces in there, it is likely you may poop during the labor. The feces are forced out of the anus when the baby pushes against the rectum, and it is totally beyond your control. It is unlikely that a delivering mother will be aware of what is happening in this stage of the game and the overwhelming sensations of birth will be much more powerful. More simply put, pooping will be the least of a mother’s worries while delivering. Midwives and doctors are very used to this and will simply remove it without a second thought. Sterile cloths are often times placed around delivering mothers so they will be readily available in this event. Don’t worry about pooping during labor. It will all be worth the discomfort, pain, embarrasment and risk once a mother holds her newborn baby in her arms.
While studying how to become a sonographer it may be beneficial to learn about different issues that will be affecting your patients. One common question asked of sonographers by expecting mothers concerns smoking while pregnant, or a fetus being exposed to smoke. Although expecting mothers may be tempted to just cut down, quitting smoking is the best approach to recommend. The fewer cigarettes smoked by an expecting mother, the better. The carbon monoxide, nicotine and other substances that are inhaled while smoking pass out of the lungs, into the blood stream, and cross the placenta with each cigarette smoked. Nicotine makes the baby’s heart beat faster as it struggles to get oxygen, which can affect a fetus’s growth rate. Smoking can also increase the rate of miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight. Exposure to tobacco makes a baby more likely to suffer from conditions such as asthma, and chest infections after birth. There seems to be a higher rate of SIDS if an expecting mother or her partner smokes. Which brings us to the next question….if you live with a smoker will it affect your baby? Yes. If you live with a smoker, you will be inhaling thousands of toxic carcinogenic chemicals that are released into the air around you from the burning end of the cigarette and smoke exhaled in the mother’s environment. Several studies have confirmed that passive inhalation of second hand smoke can result in health problems, and increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth. There have also been studies confirming increased risk of central nervous system problems with fetus/children who have been subjected to second hand smoke. Smoking is not safe for mothers who are expecting, their fetuses, even when it is just second hand.
If you are studying to become an ultrasound technician, you may find yourself in the position to give advice. We will be addressing some of these questions in our blog. You may also be a mother who is pregnant and looking to have some frequently asked questions answered. One question I was asked the other day was; “My husband didn’t talk about the baby before the scan. Now he is overly protective. Is this normal?”
Many fathers do find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that their partner is carrying their baby, and that the baby will eventually be born and bring all the joys, trials, and responsibilities of parenthood. This is all even harder to envisage when they are not physically experiencing the changes that pregnancy brings. They do not feel the symptoms, or the movement that a mother experiences first hand. The Ultrasound scan is often a pivotal point for partners. Suddenly they are face to face with their baby and this can be very exciting. The baby becomes more real at this point. Perhaps your partner is now realizing his responsibilities and affection for the baby, and is showing these feelings by taking care of you. If you are finding his attention to be a little “too much” you might want to discuss other ways that he can feel involved in the process such as; encourage him to attend prenatal checkups, where he can ask questions and listen to the heartbeat, attend birth preparation classes together, spend time at home reading about birth and baby care and share opinions, write a birth plan together, or share practical arrangements like decorating the nursery and choosing baby equipment. Try to embrace his involvement and enthusiasm. It is a great way to strengthen your relationship and prepare for parenthood together.
Some mothers have asked for ways to communicate and bond with their baby before birth, and as pregnancy progresses, there are many ways to focus on your baby and communicate with him/her and a time for mothers to relax and connect with their bodies as well.
Seven ways we have found to connect with your unborn child are as follows (enjoy);
1) Relax in a warm bath and concentrate on feeling your baby’s movements, imagining what he/she is doing inside of there.
2) Talk to your baby. Your baby can detect sound from outside the womb by 20-24 weeks and is especially likely to tune in to your voice. You can give a running commentary on your activities, or even read to your baby. This one is a good one to involve your partner with as well.
3) Rub or massage your belly. You may find that your baby responds by kicking; It’s almost like having a conversation.
4) Spend some time making plans for your baby’s arrival for example, choosing colors for the nursery or even just buying a few onesies.
5) Start Reading books of baby names and making a list that you and your partner like.
6) Some couples also enjoy taking pictures to document the growth of the mama’s belly and making a diary or journal of progress and signs.
Each baby and pregnancy is a different and unique miracle. Mothers may find that one baby might be responsive to the reading, while another is more responsive to the massaging. If you are studying to get your ultrasound or sonography degree, you may be in a position to help mothers through the birthing process, not only physically but emotionally and psychologically as well.
An ultrasound can be performed in the first trimester if menstrual dates are uncertain but in some locations it may be requested for all patients. Because the nuchal translucency scan has a small window of time in which it can be performed, 11-14 weeks in most centers, a dating ultrasound may be done prior to first trimester genetic screening. The dating ultrasound looks for the distance measured from the top of the baby’s head to its bottom (crown-rump measurement), and the diameter of the head is recorded – this distance is known as the biparietal diameter – the distance between the parietal bones on either side of the head. The nuchal translucency scan is performed through the application of ultrasound targeted at the back of the baby’s neck. The sonographer or ultrasound technician will measure the thickness of any fluid collected behind the baby’s neck. In general, a thickness of 2-3 mm or less can be considered normal. In the first trimester, there is an association between the size of fluid collection at the back of the fetal neck, and risk of down syndrome. If early testing is declined, or if prenatal care starts too late, the quad screen may be the best option, given between 15-22 weeks. The nuchal transparency scan is considered to be 80% accurate, which means there is a 20% chance of it being inaccurate (1 in 5). If you’re offered a blood test with the scan (PAPP-A) it increases the accuracy to 85-90%. When the nasal bone is also measured, the accuracy rises to 95%. Speaking of blood tests, other blood tests may be offered to screen for congenital anomalies in the baby. Along with the nuchal translucency first trimester screen, between 11-14 weeks, a blood test can be performed to measure the level of PAPP-A. this hormone test will further help determine the risk for Down Syndrome in a fetus.
I was recently looking at some health care and Q&A forums about medical imaging careers and I noticed that there are many people who want to purse a career in ultrasound, but are both confused about the terminology of job roles within the field and how the technology is used. It seems that everyone wants to go into obstetrics, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is simply because they are not aware of the many other ways the technology is used. So, I’m going to hopefully clarify a few things.
First, lets start with a vocabulary and job title lesson. The proper title for someone who performs what we call “ultrasound images” is a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. The image that is created with the technology is called a sonogram. If we simply call someone a sonographer, we could be talking about someone who uses the technology for scanning ocean depth or any other use of ultra sound wave technology.
Second, the use of medical sonograms is constantly growing. In addition to gynecological and obstetric (pregnancy) sonograms, there is: cardiac sonography (heart), vascular sonography (blood vessels), neurosonology (brain), and ophthalmology (eye). These are just to name a few and the lists keeps growing.
When you get a degree of applied science in diagnostic medical sonography, you often have a choice of taking different “track” options where you can get more in depth learning about a specific sub specialty. One of the fastest growing specializations in ultrasound is vascular & cardiovascular technology. This involves imaging and invasive procedures involving blood vessels, and the normal functioning of the flow through the heart, valve function, and much more. As the baby boomers age, the proportion of our population that is considered “elderly” grows at an unprecedented rate, which is spurring demand for these procedures and the professionals who can skillfully perform them.
If you are one of those who are hazy about the field of ultrasound or not sure if it would be a good career fit for you, begin by doing some more research, read professional profiles, job descriptions, and learn about sonography schools in your area.
There are many questions about ultrasounds that an expectant mother may ask her sonographer. It is prudent to be well versed in what might come up while you are performing an ultrasound. While obtaining your sonography degree, your education may or may not have time to address bedside manner: We will attempt to do some of that in this blog….consider it continuing education.
Question: I’m very nervous about my first scan. What happens during the scan and what does it feel like?
Answer: Although not painful, early scans can cause discomfort since you need a full bladder to perform it. Ultrasound scans it is important to have a full bladder to make it possible to view the baby. This is because until 12 weeks, the uterus stays in the pelvis, and the bowel obscures the view; a full bladder raises the uterus and pushes the bowel out of the way. You may need a full bladder for nuchal scan, between 11 and 14 weeks. Some practices do transvaginal scans which are a small ultrasound probe placed inside the vagina in the first trimester. This method is generally used if the image from the abdominal scan is poor. In this case, you won’t need a full bladder and research indicates that transvaginal scans are more comfortable in early pregnancy then abdominal scans. You don’t need a full bladder for the 18-20 week scan, since the position of the uterus has changed. This may make the beginning ultrasound scans a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. There are also 3D and 4D scans that many companies now offer to reveal a baby in three dimensions or moving on film or video. These 26-32 week scans can be expensive and are usually done out of curiosity of the couple, rather then for medical knowledge or gain. The quality of these images are amazing and parents sometimes are even able to spot genetic similarities between themselves and their baby. However, these 3D and 4D scans are often lengthy, which means the baby is exposed to ultrasound for longer then is normal. Also, if the baby is in the wrong position, it can be difficult to get a clear picture. The position of the placenta, the amount of amniotic fluid, and the size of the mother can also affect the quality of the picture obtained.
The advent of sonography has made obstetrics a much more precise science and pregnancy a much less worrisome experience for many expectant parents. Using sound waves so high they can’t be heard by a human ear, sonography allows visualization and examination of the fetus without X rays. Though sonography tends to be fairly accurate for most uses, in diagnosing birth defects, the test can yield some false negatives (it seems as though everything is fine but its not) and some false positives (it looks as though there is a problem but there isn’t. A level 1 ultrasound is usually done to date a pregnancy and is performed before 12 weeks. A more detailed, or level 2 ultrasound, is used for sophisticated diagnostic purposes and is usually performed between 18-22 weeks. Besides dating a pregnancy and looking for abnormalities, ultrasounds may be used for:
1) Determining the cause of bleeding in early or mid late pregnancy
2) Locate and IUD that was in place at the time of conception
3) Locate the fetus prior to CVS or amniocentesis
4) Determine the condition of the fetus if no heart beat has been detected by the 14th week with a Doppler device, or if there has been no fetal movement by the 22nd week.
5) Determine if the mother is carrying more than one fetus
6) Measure the amount of amniotic fluid
7) Check for fibroids if uterine growth is abnormal
Measure the size of the fetus when preterm delivery is being contemplated or when the baby is believed to be late
9) Detect cervical changes that might predict preterm labor
10) Identify the location, size, maturity, or possible abnormalities of the placenta
11) Evaluate the condition of the fetus through observation of fetal activity, breathing movements, and amniotic fluid volume.
If you are interested in earning a sonography degree, this is an excellent source to learn more about becoming an ultrasound technician.
Sonography, also known as ultrasound, refers to the technology which uses high frequency sound waves to capture images of the inside of the human body. The professional who performs these tasks is properly known in the health care arena as a diagnostic medical sonographer or is sometimes simply referred to as a “sonographer”. What many are unaware of is that becoming a sonographer starts with as little as an associates degree to get an entry level position. An associates degree is typically a two year commitment that can sometimes be completed on nights and weekends.
Most sonography programs are broken into three main phases. In the first phase you will learn foundational knowledge from which you can build upon such as medical terminology, basic anatomy and physiology, patient care, medical ethics, and medical records management.
The second phase of your sonography program is the core of your studies and will introduce you specifically to the art and science of ultrasound technology. During this phase you will learn about the science behind the technology, procedures, case studies, and applied learning with practice equipment.
Many schools allow you to choose a particular specialization such as OB/GYN which is short for obstetrics (pregnancy) and gynecology. In this track, you will learn all about the female reproductive organs and learn how to scan all areas of the pelvic region. Many are familiar with this aspect of the technology and have seen the images of a fetus inside of the womb. Other specializations include cardiovascular technology, echocardiography, abdominal, neurosonology, and breast sonography. These are the most common track options available from sonography schools. However, there are many more uses of the technology not mentioned here and the technology continues to expand into other areas of use.