Arie Luyendyk and wife Lauren, who married in January after meeting on season 22 of The Bachelor, are expecting their first child sometime in June.
During the party, Lauren laid down on a bed in the middle of her living room so a technician could show partygoers the baby in real-time.
After Lauren was finished, two of her pregnant guests were also given impromptu ultrasound screenings.
The exams were provided by an obstetrics clinic in Arizona (where the Luyendyks live), but it’s not the only place that offers mobile ultrasounds. Clinics across the United States now offer in-home ultrasound services, with the cost starting around $150.
Dr. George Arnold believes an “ultrasound party” could be a great way to connect with your unborn baby.
He works as the chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Markham Stouffville Hospital.
Arnold also advocates for the use of 3D and 4D ultrasounds to produce even more detailed pictures and videos of your baby.
“There is something special about not only feeling your baby move but being able to see what your baby’s like.”
There aren’t any known medical risks
There is no known risk to having an ultrasound while pregnant, nor is there any evidence of cumulative risk which increases with each ultrasound performed.
“This makes sense because ultrasound is basically using sound wave technology,” said Arnold.
“We’re exposed to sounds every day of our life, bouncing off our bodies one way or another. From a safety point of view, there is no concern.”
For Arnold, the only real risk you run by having an ultrasound party is that the technician might see something of concern with your child.
His concern is that you might need to have what’s typically a private moment between parents while surrounded by your friends and family.
“God forbid you haven’t felt the baby move for a few days and an ultrasound shows that your baby’s no longer alive… There’s always the chance that something could be seen or misinterpreted,” said Arnold, though the likelihood of this happening is very slim.
Alternately, Dr. Ori Nevo, who works as a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Sunnybrook Hospital, warns that there may be risks not yet discovered by the medical community.
“That’s true for many other interventions, interactions, medications — pretty much anything because studies are always limited to some degree.”
Nevo doesn’t believe there to be any risks, but he admits that doctors don’t know everything. He recommends you err on the side of caution and only have the recommended number of ultrasounds to be safe.
The typical ultrasound schedule
The average low-risk pregnancy will see three to four ultrasounds, though doctors haven’t reached a consensus on the exact number and schedule that’s best for tracking the baby’s development.
In Arnold’s practice, he recommends most women have the “dating ultrasound” somewhere around the seven- or eight-week mark.
“That’s the most accurate way of determining your due date,” said Arnold.
The next ultrasound is usually around week 12, as part of genetic testing. The third ultrasound is typically done around the 19-week mark.
“That’s the one that will tell you the gender, if you’re interested,” Arnold said.
After that, it’s not clear if another ultrasound is necessary — especially in low-risk pregnancies.
WATCH BELOW: Baby appears to flash ‘rock on’ sign in ultrasound photo
Nevo’s practice differs slightly. He recommends the mother have her first ultrasound between 11 to 14 weeks.
“Some people do a dating scan early on, although it’s not completely necessary if you’re doing the 11 to 14 weeks ultrasound,” Nevo said.
During this checkup, Nevo assesses the basic fetal condition and he screens for Down syndrome. The second scan comes between 18 to 22 weeks.
“It’s a long scan in which we check all the different organs. We check the placenta location… we’re pretty much seeing if there are any fetal disorders,” said Nevo, who calls this “the big scan.”
He usually performs a third scan on or around the due date, to make sure the baby is ready for birth.
According to Nevo, this schedule will look very different if you’re pregnant with twins or if it’s a complicated pregnancy.
A way to bond
In Arnold’s view, if there’s no risk to mom or baby imposed by having an ultrasound, why not have one or two?
“I think patients benefit from seeing their baby move before he or she is born,” he said.
It’s been Arnold’s experience that patients love every chance to see their growing baby, and he’s happy to provide that opportunity.
Nevo is less supportive of the trend.
“When we don’t know something, we think it’s better not to expose the patients for unnecessary testing,” he said.
Arnold doesn’t know of any Canadian clinics that provide in-home ultrasounds yet, but he’s sure the service will travel north soon enough.