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Health & Pregnancy

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Detailed Fetal Ultrasound Aids Bonding

A Few Minutes More During Ultrasound Results in Stronger Mom-Baby Bond

Just 3 Minutes More continued...

"The feelings of attachment in the consultation group increased by about 20% [compared with the routine care group]," he says. "Anxiety scores went down by about 30% (again compared with the routine care group)."

Boukydis is hopeful the more detailed consultation will also inspire women to pay closer attention to their prenatal habits, such as eating healthfully and not drinking alcohol. He plans to study that soon.

While he only questioned the mothers, Boukydis says the consultation experience is likely to help fathers feel closer to their unborn child as well. "About 15% of both study groups had the fathers present," he points out.

Another Expert's Perspective

"The results definitely make sense," says Khalil Tabsh, MD, medical director of The Perinatal Center at Santa Monica -- UCLA Medical Center in California, and chief of the division of obstetrics at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. "It's been shown that both mother and father bond with a baby just by observing movement on ultrasound."

While other studies have examined the ultrasound-bonding link, the new study looks at it in a more scientific way, Tabsh says. "They used psychological scores to document and prove it."

Time constraints in medical practices might be an issue in extending the exam time, Tabsh says. But he says most doctors and sonographers already spend some time pointing out physical features of the unborn baby.

Time can be maximized by zeroing in on what Tabsh finds is important to most parents. "Most parents want to see the face, the hands, the legs; and they want to see the baby moving. Most of the time they want to find out the sex of the baby," he says.

What Parents-to-Be Can Do

Ultrasound exam practices vary across the country, Boukydis says. "There are still places where the woman is not invited to look at the monitor."

Before having a fetal ultrasound, he says, a woman can say: "I would like to look at the monitor while you are doing this." She can also ask, "Can you tell me not only what the baby looks like, but can we take a minute to look at what my baby does?"

Also, women can request pictures or tapes to take home, a common practice.

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