Monday, June 20, 2005

Boy or Girl? We can't tell you...

Like many parents, we wanted to know if our Peanut was a boy or a girl before her birth.

Since I didn't have the amniocentesis test, the method open to us was to have an ultrasound.

In Helsinki (perhaps all of Finland), a woman has two ultrasound exams during her pregnancy to monitor the development of the fetus. The first one is around week 12 and the second around week 22. The ultrasounds are usually done at the maternity hospital where the baby will be born. In our case this was the Kätilöopisto.

The first ultrasound is to check the development and identify any potential issues, such as swelling or fluid at the base of the neck (a possible sign of Down's Syndrome). It also is used to determine the estimated due date by taking a measure of the femur to estimate the baby's age. We also saw the beginnings of the stomach and brain formation. In this exam, the used both an internal and external ultrasound device.

The second is more extensive and covers the development of the internal organs and the brain. In particular they check the position of the placenta; measure the head and femer; development of brain and its chambers; heart and its chambers; kidneys and urinary tract; stomach; backbone; umbilical cord and the amount of embroyotic fluid. Its at this age that the gender of the baby could also been seen.

However, public hospitals are told specifically that they cannot tell parents the gender of the baby - even if the technician is able to see it. One reason is that these are publically funded hospitals and they don't want to waste money or time on a item that is not critical to the health of the baby. Time is certainly an issue - I was 'triple-booked' for my ultrasound slot, meaning my turn would come once the person who had the actual time slot and the person double-booked for it had their exams! Another reason is that ultrasounds are not a 100% accurate way to determine gender. They don't want the responsibility of giving parents the wrong information.

Each one cost me 22 EUR and we were given several "photo" print outs to take home. These we quickly scanned and emailed off to the anxiously awaiting grandparents and family for their first glimpses of Peanut.

How to Find Out

Well, we still wanted to know. So we had to go to a private clinic for another ultrasound.

We chose to go to Femeda, a clinic in Helsinki on the recommendation of a friend and also because they have 3D ultrasounds! I think Peanut's Dad was especially fascinated by the technology :-)

It was admittedly very cool to see a 3D image of Peanut. This was printed out and could be recorded onto a VCR tape or DVD. Both of which we forgot at home, but we re able to purchase at the clinic. During the exam we also saw more detailed images of the organs and could see that her facial features were forming normally (ie, no cleft lip). Every one of these visits is reassuring to expectant parents. Though the 3D peek was almost seemed to be a bit more than we should be seeing - somehow almost invading her privacy.

This visit was more expensive - around 150 EUR with a portion refundable by KELA.

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