When choosing your prenatal care, you may want to think about what kind of birth you would like. The care you receive during your pregnancy may affect the birth itself more than you would think. Prenatal tests are an important (perhaps in most cases the most important) part of prenatal care. It is helpful to have a caregiver that is willing to inform you about each test and its purpose without making assumptions that you will choose to have them. In many cases, a good deal of the tests and screenings that are done routinely are unnecessary, some may have potential side effects either on the baby or on the mother, and may raise stress levels for no reason.

It’s worth finding a doctor, or perhaps even better, a midwife that will be ready and willing to inform you and support you in your choices, as you weigh each option that is put before you.

Industrialized childbirth also implies a certain style of prenatal care, constantly focusing on potential problems. Countless tests are routinely offered to all pregnant women, at different stages of their pregnancy. Simple physiological reactions are presented as diseases (…). It is obvious that repeated prenatal consultations often have spectacular negative effects on the emotional state of pregnant women, planting seeds of doubt.

Michel Odent, MD [1]

New research has raised doubts over the safety of ultrasound scans used to view fetuses in the womb. A study by scientists at University College Dublin found that scans create changes in the cells. Patrick Brennan, lead researcher, said, “It has been assumed for a long time that ultrasound has no effect on cells. We now have grounds to question that assumption.” It would certainly seem prudent to avoid all routine, but absolutely unnecessary, ultrasound scans for fetal observation. [2]

Peggy O’Mara [3]

It is important to realize that ultrasound technology is very new and relatively untested, in terms of safety, and its main purpose is to test for abnormalities, most of which cannot be treated before birth except by termination of the pregnancy.

[…] Although a prenatal scan may sometimes be useful when specific problems are suspected, my conclusion is that it is at best ineffective, and at worst dangerous, when used as a screening tool for every pregnant woman and her baby.

[…] I would urge all pregnant women to think deeply before they choose to have a routine ultrasound. It is not compulsory, despite what some may say, and each mother must consider the risks, benefits, and implications of scanning for herself and her baby, according to their specific situation.

Sarah J Buckley MD [4]

People, in fact, seem to ascribe almost magical qualities to these tests, believing they will solve all sorts of possible problems. Certainly an ultrasound examination can provide a great deal of information to satisfy parents and doctors alike. Ultimately, however, it only rarely tells us more than the diagnosis of a skilled doctor. Even when such an examination does tell us something we could not have discovered by other methods, we have found it seldom leads us to a procedural change.

[…] Aside from the principle of keeping intervention to a minimum, there are other good reasons for limiting the use of ultrasound. It is important to remember that we have no way of knowing at this time how ultrasound exposure, even for very short times, might affect the mother – or the fetus.

[…] We can only wait and wonder about what we will see forty years from now, when one or two generations will have been literally rocked in utero by sonic waves.

Michel Odent, MD [5]

Continued research is needed to evaluate the potential adverse effects of ultrasound exposure during pregnancy. […]Until long-term effects can be evaluated across generations, caution should be exercised when using this modality during pregnancy. [6]

The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine noted in 2000: …the responsibility of an informed decision concerning possible adverse effects of ultrasound in comparison to desired information will probably become more important over the next few years. [7]


Preparing for Birth


GROUP B STREPTOCOCCUS, advice for Group B carriers - Goer, Henci- link

For articles about different tests see


[1]Odent, Michel MD. The Farmer and the Obstetrician, Free Association Books, London 2002 Pages 62, 63

[2] Brennan, Patrick et al, New Scientist, Issue 1476, Jun 10, 1999

[3] O’Mara, Peggy Natural Family Living Pocket Books, New York, NY 2000, Page 15

[4] Buckley, Sarah J. MD. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. Celestial Arts, New York 2009 Pages 78, 93

[5] Odent, Michel MD. Birth Reborn. Pantheon Books, New York 1984, Pages 32, 33, 34

[6] Quoted from Buckley: Marinac-Dabic D, Krulewitch CJ, Moore RM Jr. The safety of prenatal ultrasound exposure in human studies. Epidemology. May 2002; 13(3Suppl):S19-22,p S22.

[7] Quoted from Buckley: Fowlkes JB, Holland CK. Mechanical bioeffects from diagnostic ultrasound: AIUM consensus statements. American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. J Ultrasound Med. Feb 2000;19(2):69-72,p 70

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