Ultrasounds Are a Family Affair, But This Hospital Is Planning To Take That Experience Away

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the U.K. has made a bold move. As of September 1, 2017 no one under the age of 12 can be present at a pregnancy ultrasound. That’s right, kids are banned from this family milestone and if you ask me, the hospital’s reasoning is preposterous.

When I first saw this article’s title, I assumed there was new research that revealed a concern for small children and their exposure to ultrasounds. Hence, the hospital thought they should revise their policy on who could attend pregnancy scans. That would make sense. We all want to protect and care for our children as much as possible. But upon further reading I discovered that the new policy has nothing to do with the under age 12 crowd. It has everything to do with the hospital staff.

NNUH Ultrasound Policy

A representative from NNUH said, “In order to carry out all appropriate tests and measurements, our sonographers need the right environment to concentrate and focus on performing these checks. Restricting the potential distractions and number of visitors, including children, in the room during the examination enables our teams to perform the scan effectively and there are multiple hospitals who restrict this to only one guest.”

That just sounds selfish to me, especially when we’re discussing a non-emergent appointment that introduces a new family member to an expectant mother and those she wishes to have present.

Let’s be real. The medical field is inherently a busy place full of distractions. Take the emergency room, for example, should we no longer allow noise and interruptions there? I mean, those doctors need to carry out tests and concentrate too! Probably more so than a sonographer. And it’s not like they’re trying to read, review, or diagnose the ultrasound results with children present. That usually takes places outside of the actual scanning room. At least it did with all my ultrasounds. Then the radiologist followed up with a “You’re good to go!” or with potential concerns. I’ve experienced both scenarios and the presence of my children didn’t fuel one answer over the other. When there was a concern, we just scheduled a second ultrasound to take a deeper look at the initial findings.

The NNUH spokesperson defended the hospital’s position, trying to cite a woman’s privacy as part of the reason for this new policy. But honestly, a woman’s other children are hardly cause for privacy issues. He then cycled back adding, “Although we can appreciate this is disappointing, it is important that we maintain an appropriate environment for our staff to work in, conducive to performing scans to the best of their ability.”

How about you better train your staff to do their job with a little background noise? Then, families can unite in the joy of hearing baby’s heartbeat, finding out the sex, and growing a bond through visually seeing their new child/sibling. Oh, and parents don’t have to add the cost of “ultrasound babysitter” to their already mounting pregnancy expenses.


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Gretchen hails from the beautiful Pacific Northwest along with her husband and two young children. Before transitioning to life as a stay at home mom, Gretchen worked in sales and marketing while earning her Masters in Management and Organizational Leadership. Now her days are focused on managing meal plans and nap times while organizing her sewing stash and children's toy bins. My oh my, how life changes in the blink of an eye! Gretchen writes frequently about natural parenting, becoming more environmentally conscience, her affinity for thrifted treasures, and hopes of making it out of yoga pants each day on her blog That Mama Gretchen (www.thatmamagretchen.com).

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121 Comments on "Ultrasounds Are a Family Affair, But This Hospital Is Planning To Take That Experience Away"

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This article will explain in more detail my previous comments that went unpublished. please read this and you will understand the profession better.


I commented before, you must have not let it go through. Please, at the very least, read this article


Think before you speak
Think before you speak

Educate yourself before putting down the community that helps ensure that you and your childlike it through your pregnancy please.

Gretchen, maybe you should write about things you understand. You have no clue what it’s like on the sonographer. We’re examining tiny heart structures, observing blood flow and vessels, measuring tiny brain structures, and evaluating everything on that baby from head to toe. Not to mention the times when something is terribly wrong. It’s really stressful, and you don’t want 5 people standing over your shoulder asking questions and a crying kid in the room. Yes, the medical field is inherently chaotic, but in the ultrasound room, where these exams take place, it’s sonographer and patient, and dark and quiet.… Read more »

Sigh…I guess your not interested in differing points of view. That’s quite ok, we’ve reposted this ridiculous rant if yours so that others can share in its fallacy.

S Burns
What an ignorant article. It is a very important examination. Your 20-week scan, (you might consider is a gender scan, which it is not) is an anaomly scan. They are very complex and intricate, they look for cleft lip, brain abnormalities such as ancepholy, spinal abnormalities like spina bifida, heart defects, that urine flow is correct and whether the baby has the correct number of kidneys, to check that organs are covered and not growing outside of the abdominal cavity and to check all limbs are there and growing correctly. All of this and then some, on a moving target,… Read more »
Sandra Morrissey
Your comments in response to the decision by a UK hospital to restrict children under 12 to be present during the scans display a lack of understanding of the role of Advanced Practitioner Sonographers working in NHS Hospitals. In the UK the Sonographers do indeed ‘read, review, or diagnose the ultrasound results with children present’. The Sonographer is entirely responsible for not only undertaking the scans but also making the diagnosis and communicating the results to the patient. So the Sonographer needs to concentrate to avoid missing a fetal abnormality. The scan is not primarily an ‘experience’ it is a… Read more »

Are you a sonographer?! I’m guessing not ….I’m also guessing you have no idea how much pressure a sonographer is under to not miss and diagnosis on someone else’s child! I think you need to do your research and maybe shadow a sonographer then you might change your mind!

Gretchen, the woman who saves women and baby lives, writing her blog with a handful of yelling, grumpy children and other people asking her a million questions, letting those children rip her office apart. Ohhhh wait. My bad. You write your little insignificant stories while children and people in general are nowhere around or at least not screaming and crying and whining, no pressure. You’ve clearly NEVER had to try to diagnose life and death conditions, distracted as hell. Not to mention those days you’ve got a headache or don’t feel so well but you’ve got to get that job… Read more »

How do you think the radiologist gets the appropriate images to read and diagnose? The sonographer has to be able to get the images. The sonographer must be able to concentrate and focus on their patient(s). This is a medical test to check the health of the baby (and mother), it’s not a party.


You have a career waiting for you at the onion. This is some of the best satire I have read inns while!

Lauren Fazzolari
Just so you know, ultrasound isn’t for showing mom and dad a heart beat and the gender. The purpose is to check for potential life threatening abnormalities. Knowing that, would you want us to be scanning your baby with a distraction? Also, is it a family affair when we can’t show you a heart beat because there isn’t one? Is it a family affair when we discover an abnormality? It’s true that we aren’t reading the exam, but think about this. If we don’t take the necessary images, the radiologist will never be able to see an image of the… Read more »
I have never read such an ill informed bunch of tripe in my life. The total disrespect and ignorance of the immense and incredible amount of training sonographers have to undertake to perform and diagnose these examinations is staggering. The concentration required to complete what is essentially an important medical examination is incredibly demanding. The sheer attention to detail is staggering and can be the difference to ensuring the baby grows healthily if requiring further intervention. To allude to the fact that this is a simple exam and therefore not ensuring that the sonographer is given total respect and the… Read more »