Thursday, 3 January 2013

There's a party in utero

ultrasound party scan

I’ve been reading about ultrasound parties. I wish I could tell you they involve early 90s reggae sound systems, or something, but they don’t. No, they involve inviting a crowd over for drinks, snacks and the scanning of a foetus in utero.

Is that not a weird thing? Isn’t an ultrasound scan something you turn up for with slightly sweaty palms and a stomach knot tied from frayed cords of anxiety, excitement and morning sickness? Or maybe I just felt like that because I wasn’t at a party?

Well anyway, everyone’s doing it, apparently;* hosting events where the special guest is a foetus, and an ultrasonographer is master of ceremonies. It’s great. You lie down in front of your guests and have K-Y Jelly smeared over your belly. A probe glides across your skin, searching for a heartbeat while the ultrasonographer – presumably with a mouthful of pretzels, or something – hunts around for signs of congenital abnormality.

Because isn’t that what ultrasound scans are for? Sorry to be a downer but, isn’t it?

There are so many reasons to be a little freaked out by this ‘trend’. Yes, our increasingly voracious appetite for attention-as-validation and extreme over-sharing is distasteful. (And throwing a party to scrutinise with friends the insides of our own bodies is surely extreme.) But it is the growing commercialisation of childbirth that is really troubling.

I happily paid for a printed image from each of my scans. And I treasure those blurred grey mementos of a special time. If I had been offered other kinds of souvenir I might have bought those too.

Perhaps I would have drawn the line at a nine-centimetre 3D resin model of my dear foetus for £800 (or half price for just her face)**. But I might not have. My brain was addled by baby love and a powerful urge to hold on to every stage of pregnancy. (Apart from the swelling, the nausea, the neurosis, the acid reflux... Oh, who am I kidding?)

You see, that’s what concerns me. If you had packaged up all the good bits of pregnancy, all the exciting, amazing and transient bits, and offered them to me in a tangible form that I could hold on to forever, you really could have cleaned up. I would probably have bought the lot.

The emotions and expectations involved in pregnancy and childbirth mean there is opportunity for easy money to be made. And just because you can make money, doesn’t mean you should. Damn, if I were less reticent and more of a party girl maybe I would have had a bloody ultrasound bash too. (I wouldn’t.)

*By everyone, I mean a few.
** Yes, this is an actual thing.


  1. Oh my word. What the actual etc? A whole new area of competitive anxiety. The state I was in at my 2nd child's scan is not something I would care to share with anyone, let alone with accompanying party poppers and non-alcoholic cocktails. The very idea.

    1. I know! Can you imagine it?! Plus it would be a very dry party!

  2. A party with ultrasound is probably a house music dj's dream. But a party with an ultrasound scan... er, no! My idea of a nightmare. I would have to decline if I had such an invite. Jeez though... what's wrong with the world?! Despite my misgivings on the subject matter I enjoyed reading the article. So thanks for an insight into the weird and not so wonderful behemoth that is pre-birth commercialism.

  3. Woh, that is weird! It was bad enough having ds there for my 20 week scan 2nd time rouind, really wouldn't fancy a crowd of onlookers. What if you got bad news? And what if - like my first scans both times - you were less far gone than expected (by LMP dates)and they used the magic words "we're going in...."?

    1. Ha ha - Oh God, I hadn't even THOUGHT of that scenario!