Public Education

Psychological effects of ultrasound examinations: changes of body perception and child image in pregnancy

Langer M, Ringler M & Reinold E. Psychological effects of ultrasound examinations: Changes on body perception and child image in pregnancy. J. Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol, 1988; 199-208.

Ultrasound scanning is known to have psychological effects due to its vivid imagery. In a prospective study on 60 healthy gravidae in midtrimester pregnancy the impact of a single scan upon child image and body perception was evaluated. Seven-point numerical scales were filled in by the women before and after ultrasound and high feedback of the screen image was given during the scan. Medical and socio-economic information was collected in an interview.

Child image changed considerably towards a brisker, more active and more familiar view; for body image, an increase in reassurance could be observed. Parity and partner status had an influence on the experience of the scan. Primiparae without partners and women with pregnancy complaints could benefit by the scan in certain aspects of their body perception.

Implications of these finding for early mother-infant bonding, abortion and daily clinical practice are discussed.

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