03/13/2013 12:02 EDT | Updated 05/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Why Ultrasound Parties Are a Bad Idea

Written by Leslie Kennedy for

Back in the days when my mom was pregnant with my brother, and then me, 30ish (emphasis on the 'ish') years ago, ultrasounds were only given to women in high-risk pregnancies or for a medical related concern. Then came IPS testing and anatomy ultrasounds, used to determine the health of baby in utero.

Then, along came 3D ultrasounds, which, if you're into it, allows you to see 3D images of your growing baby. Personally, I'm not a fan of these. I prefer to wait to see my baby's face until my baby is born. Lots of my friends have jumped at the chance to see their little ones in 3D though, and have framed pictures and CDs capturing the images and movements of their baby in utero.

Many parents take advantage of the fact that, at the point the anatomy ultrasound is performed, usually around 19 weeks, the baby is large enough to determine gender. Many people use this opportunity to find out the baby's gender and then have gender reveal parties, with cakes covered in icing that hides pink or blue beneath. And while more and more hospitals are refusing to divulge gender, (supposedly to reduce the risk of parents-to-be aborting fetuses due to gender, or to mitigate risk of getting it wrong), parents who really want to know are able to go to clinics like UC Baby where, for a fee, you can find out the gender of your baby.

The latest craze takes finding out and spreading the news to a whole new level.

Related: The do's and don'ts of sex when you're pregnant

For a fee, a company with a sonogram machine will come to your house and do an ultrasound in the comfort of your living room and tell you, and whoever else you choose to invite, the gender of the baby.

I understand why people get excited about finding out sharing their news but this just seems like a bad idea.

Imagine this scene:

You gather your closest friends and family. There's a cheese platter, a veggie plate and bowls of chips people are snacking on surrounded by pink and blue balloons and a massive banner that says "It's a...?"

In comes the sonographer and you lie down on the table, and as everyone holds their breath, the sonographer's face drops. Turns out your precious baby is missing a limb. Or, worse, has no heartbeat.

Ultrasounds, at their core, are meant for medical purposes, to determine the health of a baby.

They are not toys, and definitely not meant for parties.

It's why I'm not the biggest fan of 3D ultrasounds either, though at least those are private.

If you are able to tell the gender of the baby in the course of a medically necessitated ultrasound, super. But these ultrasound parties seem not just extravagant and entitled, but also scary and risky.

There is currently so much debate surrounding the medicalization of birth, that hospitals are intrusive and unnecessary in low-risk pregnancies. While I personally am a fan of hospital births, the reality is that the argument against them can't exist without an antithesis, and these ultrasounds are the epitome of a misuse of medical technology. Using medical equipment as if it's due no more respect than an Easy Bake oven is a misuse of these machines and the medical purpose they are meant to provide.

Somewhere between "the baby's kidneys seem to be functioning well, and it appears you're having a boy"! and "it's a boy, can I have the cheesies now please?" there is a happy medium.

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