Midwife expert slams "foetus parties" where mothers-to-be celebrate pregnancy

Britain's top midwife criticises 'foetus parties' where mothers-to-be show ultrasound scans as 'entertainment'Royal College of Midwives head lashes out at 'commercialisation of pregnancy'Companies now provide champagne celebration scans
Trend raises 'serious ethical issues'

The country's leading midwife has expressed concerns about the 'commercialisation' of pregnancy, and the growing trend for expectant mothers to hold 'foetus parties'.

Professor Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said the parties – where mothers-to-be show off 3D and 4D scan images that have been paid for privately – turn what should be a screening tool into entertainment.

The trend raises serious ethical questions, both for the mother, and for those who cannot afford the scans, she said.

For the privileged few: Modern scans, like this still from a 4D video, ones are posing an ethical dilemma

For the privileged few: Modern scans, like this still from a 4D video, are posing an ethical dilemma

Concerns: Professor Cathy Warwick fears that the commercialisation of pregnancy will lead to raised expectations

Concerns: Professor Cathy Warwick fears that the commercialisation of pregnancy will lead to raised expectations

She said: 'There
is a worry that supposed diagnostic scans are now being used for
entertainment. Across the country services for “foetus parties” are
popping up.

'There
are companies across the country that provide gifts for parties
featuring images of the foetus, from a fridge magnet for 3 to a teddy
with 3D scan image for 15.

'Some
companies provide a champagne celebration scan package for 165 and a
VIP scan package for 185. This is a far cry from the original purpose
of ultrasound.'

One company, Cocoon, which offers 4D baby scans even has a 270 'Platinum package'.

The 270 deal includes a mobile phone video so you can: 'Show off your impending new arrival on your video iPod, iPod Nano 3G or iPhone.'

The deal also includes a surround sound DVD of the video and a 'Stylish brushed steel Baby's Scan frame to display a 4D scan print.'

Prof Warwick also said that mothers now give birth later
in life and bring with them greater expectations and aspirations about
childbirth – but also more complications.

She said: 'This ageing of mothers means greater demands on maternity services as pregnancies to older women are more likely to involve complications, which demand more of midwives and others in the maternity team.

'However, I think the worrying trend towards the commercialisation of pregnancy and trend in “foetus parties” can add to the burden and can increase the expectation for mothers which midwives then have to deal with.'

Show off to your friends: Cocoon's 270 Platinum package offers a video you can watch on your iPod or phone and a brushed steel frame

Show off to your friends: Cocoon's 270 Platinum package offers a video you can watch on your iPod or phone and a brushed steel frame

Show off to your friends: Cocoon's 270 Platinum package offers a video you can watch on your iPod or phone and a brushed steel frame

Writing in a Scrubbing Up column for the BBC News website, Prof Warwick said ultrasound is a screening tool to help detect babies with serious problems and ensure pregnancy management is tailored appropriately.

'For example, if a baby is found to be growing slowly a decision may be taken to deliver early,' Prof Warwick said.

'However,
the trend towards using ultrasound and technology via “foetus parties”
as a “consumer tool” raises various ethical questions.

Professor Cathy Warwick from the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'There is a worry that supposed diagnostic scans are now being used for entertainment'

Professor Cathy Warwick from the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'There is a worry that supposed diagnostic scans are now being used for entertainment'

'If a woman is celebrating much more overtly than she might normally do regarding a pregnancy at an early stage during the pregnancy and then, at a later stage, a serious problem emerges, a mother may need increased counselling after raising everyone's expectations of her pregnancy at a “foetus party”, only to learn of complications later on.'

Prof Warwick also questioned whether it may escalate the thinking among some people that a foetus should have a life of its own before birth and, therefore, rights of its own.

'At the moment, UK law allows for the mother to make decisions on behalf of her baby until the baby is born,' she said.

The problem: If a woman is celebrating more overtly normal at an early stage of pregnancy and a serious problem emerges later, she may need increased counselling

Part of the problem: If a woman is celebrating more overtly than normal at an early
stage of pregnancy and a serious problem emerges later, she may need
increased counselling

'Using technology in this way seems to have the potential to upset this position and raises the (issue) of women being accused of doing wrong to their foetus, as happens in the USA.

'Another issue that worries me is that there is the whole issue of the consumer society and who is able to access this new facility of having a 4D scan

'Does everyone have equal access to this celebratory technology or is it only something available to the better off and the rich and famous leading to more class envy, alienation and a sense of inequity

'And last but not least, what about the foetus Is this “yummy mummy” or Wag parenting taken to its absolute zenith and what does it do to the child being “branded” in this way'