By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
Science has now confirmed what parents the world over have known in their hearts—that ultrasounds of preborn babies are important for parent-child bonding, including fathers.
An article in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology reveals that a simple sonogram can increase the emotional attachment of parents to their unborn children. As the team of researchers states, “Parents value working collaboratively with sonographers to be actively involved in the experience. Sonographers can help facilitate attachment by delivering parent-centered care tailored to parents’ emotional and knowledge needs.”
The researchers–Emily Skelton, Rebecca Webb, Christina Malamateniou, Mary Rutherford & Susan Ayers–conducted database searches of English language studies published since the year 2000. The 23 studies that were reviewed described measures of attachment in parents after they had seen ultrasound images of their preborn babies.
The majority of the studies were conducted in European nations. As the article notes, “Parents regarded scans as a milestone event, which they expected, and wanted.”
It is also interesting to point out that “One of the first-time mothers even considered the ultrasound examination to be an initiation rite into pregnancy, making it obvious not only to herself but also to others that she really was expecting a baby.”
But mothers were not the only ones to see their attachment to their babies enhanced as a result of ultrasounds. Fathers, too, bonded with their babies in what might be considered an unexpected way:
A cross-cutting theme was the importance of partners at scans. Scans help fathers and non-pregnant partners to engage with the pregnancy and get to know the baby through visual cues. The baby represents a project shared between a couple and the scan is a pregnancy-related event that both parents can experience simultaneously. Knowledge about the unborn baby is acquired together, and physical movements can be witnessed in real time during the scan, providing fathers and non-pregnant partners with a glimpse into the otherwise privileged access their partner has of the pregnancy. The ‘thrill’ of being present cannot be fully felt through images shared afterwards and the scan experience may further support the intrapsychic dynamics of the expectant parents by enabling an encounter with their imagined child.
In addition, “partner behavior changed after the scan to be ‘more understanding and gentle’ towards mothers.”
It’s incredible when you think about it—a simple diagnostic tool bringing together a family in a unique and vital way.
What a wonderful gift they are in the on-going effort to rebuild a culture of life!