The latest in popular pregnant lady trends: sonogram parties.
Yep, according to Lela Davidson writing for the Today Show website, parents are now hiring ultrasound technicians to come to their homes where they will provide the, eh, entertainment for the hosts’ friends.
Apparently, there are companies sprouting up around the country, in places like Florida, California and Arkansas, that, for a couple hundred dollars, will provide in-home fetus viewings. The technicians say most of the gatherings are to reveal the gender, but others just like having more time to look at their baby than you get at the doctor’s office, and among friends.
This all is all despite the fact that the FDA has an “unapproved” position on the recreational use of sonograms, because the long-term effects of the machines remain unknown.
Earlier this year I wrote a piece for Jezebel called “The Lazy Birthing Manifesto” which was a call for moms to not feel guilty about keeping their pregnancies simple and discreet. I was pregnant at the time and was wrestling with guilt because I just wanted to have a baby in a hospital with a good obstetrician; no midwife, doula, water or home births, birthing classes, breastfeeding classes, or elaborate baby showers for me.
My instinct was that the whole pregnancy thing is complicated enough on its own, and that I didn’t need to make the process more time-consuming or expensive than it need be. Except I live in Brooklyn – home to many natural birthers, breastfeeding activists, attachment parents, etc. – so I was kinda made to feel bad about this instinct even though I knew I shouldn’t. Well now you can add these sonogram parties to the list of just another thing that I would never do but still feel slightly guilty about not wanting.
I can just imagine/fear that in a few years a friend or relative will ask me about when I am having my sonogram party, and then will answer with a judgy “oh” when I tell them I am not going to do one. I will then spend a day wondering if there is something wrong with me for not finding these necessary, or wanting to keep what is happening on the inside of my body to myself.
Ultimately, the issue isn’t with these birthing trends on an individual basis, but rather the fact that they have grown in number and scope over the past few years and they tend to make a pregnancy a bigger deal, in terms of time, money and emotional energy, than it was before. Pregnancy, if you let it, can be a full-time job. I guess you can call it the pregnancy industrial complex, and it seems to be unstoppable.
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.