Posted on April 11th, 2017 by wombwithaviewblog.com

OOPS! Not a Girl! – The Case of Mistaken Fetal Sex

Yep, it happens…the mistaken fetal sex guess. It can happen to anyone and sometimes does! We all have heard the story somewhere. A friend. Family member. Someone’s friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law… The truth is that the right conditions can make anyone susceptible to an incorrect guess. Consequently, the discovery of the opposite sex inevitably leads to a roller coaster of emotions! This is precisely why I have always been careful and cautious when throwing out a guess to any interested parent-to-be.

In the Eye of the Beholder

I have certainly been on the giving end of that conversation. Most of the time, it’s not pretty. The result usually accompanies shock and wonder at how this could have happened, especially with today’s technology. This is the typical feeling. However, still get the feeling that the general public thinks it’s the machine doing the guessing and not the observer. This would be an incorrect assumption. It always has been and always will be the observer who guesses. The machine does nothing without the operator making it happen. Other healthcare professionals are more experienced and better than others at scanning.

Some docs, nurse midwives, or other healthcare professionals are better than their counterparts at scanning. But I believe all of them in the field would agree that none of them have the skill of a seasoned sonographer. Unfortunately (and unbeknownst to you), some holding that probe are not formally trained in ultrasound at all! Some in the 3D business who are taking a crack at your baby’s sex don’t even come from the medical field. Scary, right?

Factors That Interfere With Fetal Sex Guesses

That said, a whole world of other issues can interfere with the guess of someone who is more than qualified to make it. Factors like fetal position and patient size can both make visualization limited. The laws of Ultrasound Physics dictate how well we will or won’t see a particular object. The more tissue the sound waves have to penetrate, the more limited the image will be once they make their long trek back to the monitor. That said, I could see very well in a few of my heavier patients over the years and definitely struggled in some thinner ones. This is also because air and gas are not our friends in ultrasound. If your intestines are full, it can get in the way of what we need to see…even in the thinnest of people! Yep, poop is a problem.

A Case of Mistaken Fetal Sex

Readers from all over the world email me with their images for a second opinion on fetal sex. This can be very difficult when the image isn’t a great one to start. I always like to play it cautious with my patients and readers. Especially when I’m examining one frozen image, the ability to see from all angles is taken out of the equation and a real disadvantage. The image has to be technically great, or it is simply a wild card.You’ll find one reader’s story below who wanted my opinion, but I was clueless. This baby didn’t look like a boy or girl!

You’ll find one reader’s story below who wanted my opinion, but I was a bit hesitant with this one. She wrote initially expressing her confusion. She was 20 Weeks but couldn’t make out typical girl or boy parts. This was the image below. Same for me, confused mama! The image below is not “textbook” for either sex, though I think most any sonographer would guess “girl” based on this one image alone. Hmm…

fetal sex, mistaken fetal sex

I wrote her back saying this:

Hi, this is not a very clear image but does seem to be a good angle. I don’t see anything sticking out, so I would have to guess girl based on that alone. Maybe a future ultrasound may be more clear? I’m sorry I couldn’t help more!

Best,
wwavblogger, RDMS

She wrote me back a couple of weeks later with a correction:

Everyone said it’s a girl again. I was a little disappointed, but now he is here. Blessed with a baby boy. The family is complete now. Wanted to share this happiness with you. Thank you.

I have to say I was a bit shocked that this was a boy, however, I was so happy for her that she got what she wanted. My reply to her:

Oh, congratulations!! This is precisely why I don’t like to try to confirm sex with other sonographer’s images! Sometimes they just aren’t very good and depend on angle and experience. A lack of something in one shot is not a definite girl! Many blessings to you!

Now, obviously, we all look different from one another and abnormally developing parts can cause confusion on sonography. I surely can’t say her baby didn’t have normal genitalia, but it just goes to show that angle and skill are everything!

I certainly and regrettably have had my share of patients get angry with me for not making a guess, but I’d rather play it safe any day. And this case is exactly why!

Have a great day, Moms, and feel free to email me at wombviewerblog@gmail.com!

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