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Sonographers can help enhance parents’ emotional connection to the unborn baby during pregnancy

A scientific evaluation of twenty-three research means that, during pregnancy, expectant dad and mom’ emotions in the direction of their unborn baby (fetus) can be positively enhanced by sonographers (specialist healthcare professionals who’re educated to carry out pregnancy ultrasound scans) making imaging examinations a very parent-centered expertise.

Such an expertise can allay emotions of tension and stress in the dad and mom, serving to them to really feel extra knowledgeable about the well being and well-being of their unborn baby, and reassured of their emotional funding in the ongoing pregnancy.

Conducted by the Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research at City, University of London, the evaluation gives a holistic interpretation of the present proof on the impact of antenatal (earlier than beginning) imaging on expectant dad and mom’ emotions in the direction of their unborn baby.

To date, while the provision of ultrasound scans during pregnancy has been typically considered a constructive expertise for folks, and will predict the high quality of the parent-child relationship after beginning, there may be proof to counsel that the expertise can also lead to elevated anxiousness and stress in dad and mom, notably those that are unable to interpret the scan photographs.

Seventeen of the research analyzed in the evaluation associated to the mom’s expertise solely, 5 included each dad and mom and one examine recruited fathers solely. Six central themes have been developed from evaluation of the included research:

  • the scan expertise begins earlier than the scan appointment; together with dad and mom trying ahead to the scan, however being concurrently apprehensive of the potential to obtain surprising information about their baby
  • the scan as a pregnancy ritual; dad and mom regarded scans as a milestone occasion, which they anticipated, and wished
  • feeling actively concerned in the scan; with the presence of fathers at scans vital, not just for maternal help, but additionally as attending fathers felt nearer to their unborn baby than those that weren’t
  • dad and mom’ priorities for information and understanding of the scan change during pregnancy; at earlier phases of pregnancy, dad and mom prioritized realizing that their pregnancy was viable, at later phases it was vital for folks to learn about the presence of fetal anomalies
  • the significance of the father or mother–sonographer partnership during scanning; dad and mom’ confidence of their sonographer was linked with narration of the scan, and limiting the use of non-medical terminology humanized the fetus, and implied to dad and mom that the sonographer acknowledged their unborn baby as a person reasonably than a medical entity
  • scans help to create a social identification for the unborn baby; many dad and mom centered their information about pregnancies round a scan, with some ready till their first scan to inform family and friends about their pregnancies, and sharing their scan photos or movies in order that their help circle had a way of realizing the baby even earlier than beginning

The evaluation additionally recognized an absence of revealed analysis research exploring the influence of fetal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) on expectant dad and mom’ emotional connection to their unborn baby. Fetal MRI is turning into extra generally used to complement ultrasound imaging when a fetal anomaly is suspected. Hence, the authors stress that extra analysis wants to be undertaken on this space to help perceive the acceptability of this sort of scan to dad and mom and its potential impact on their emotions in the direction of their unborn baby.

Lead writer, Emily Skelton, is a sonographer, lecturer and College of Radiographers Doctoral Fellow inside the Department of Radiography and Midwifery at City, University of London.

We know the way vital scans during pregnancy are to present medical details about fetal progress and growth, however there are extra advantages for expectant dad and mom, who, of their transition to parenthood, could really feel nearer to their unborn infants after “seeing” them on scan. This evaluation highlights the integral position of the sonographer in facilitating the creating connection between expectant dad and mom and their unborn infants, via an informative, supportive and inclusive parent-centred method to care that folks really feel actively concerned in.”

Emily Skelton, Lead Author

The evaluation is revealed on-line in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.


Journal reference:

Skelton, E., et al. (2022) The influence of antenatal imaging on father or mother expertise and prenatal attachment: a scientific evaluation. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.

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