The History of Ultrasound & Window to the Womb

The History of Ultrasound & Window to the Womb

Where did Window to the Womb begin?

Window to the Womb were the first private ultrasound scan clinic to open in the UK and opened their doors to expectant families in Nottingham in 2003.

Started by the Bowbanks family, who still proudly operate their Nottingham clinic, the Window to the Womb brand has had its own babies!

We are now able to offer our range of specialist ultrasound baby scans to families from our baby scan clinic which are increasingly located all over the UK.

The original aim of the Bowbanks family was to specialise in providing baby bonding scans from large and comfortable studios and we are proud to say that Window to the Womb is still the only provider in the UK that focuses entirely on baby scanning. We are passionate…even obsessed, about honouring the original dream of the family which was to be known as the very best, most comfortable, safest and best value provider of Gender scans and 4D ultrasound baby scans in the UK.

The history of ultrasound and baby scanning

For most women today, it’s hard to imagine going through a pregnancy without having an ultrasound scan. But these iconic images and movies of a developing fetus, generated by the reflection of high frequency sound waves, have only been around since the mid-1950s.

Ultrasound was first used for clinical purposes in 1956 in Glasgow. Obstetrician Ian Donald and engineer Tom Brown developed the first prototype systems based on an instrument used to detect industrial flaws in ships of all things!

They perfected its clinical use and by the end of the 1950s and ultrasound was then routinely used in Glasgow hospitals but it didn’t really take off in British hospitals until the 1970s.

By the end of the 20th century, ultrasound imaging had become routine in maternity clinics throughout the developed world. The technology has undergone extensive development over the past 20 years.

How does it work?

Ultrasound imaging involves bouncing “ultrasonic” sound waves which are above the audible range of human hearing at the fetus and detecting the echoes that bounce back. It’s used to confirm a pregnancy, to identify the sex and number of fetuses and to detect fetal abnormalities.

During a scan, ultrasound waves are aimed at a pregnant women’s abdomen. Based on the angle of the beam and the time it takes for echoes to return, an image of body structures inside the fetus can be generated.

Early in the use of fetal ultrasound, clinicians could only detect the baby’s head but gradually, with developing expertise, they could discern fine structures in the fetus

Is ultrasound safe?

At present there is very little scientific information available with which to assess the impact of exposure to ultrasound, particularly on the unborn child. However, antenatal ultrasound scans have been used for many years without apparent ill-effect.

Subtle effects have been reported in studies of brain development in small animals, and some studies in humans indicate changes in neurological functions following in utero exposures.

While these data are not considered to provide clear evidence of a specific hazard, the possibility of subtle long-term effects cannot be ruled out. As well as this, the evidence on the effects of fetal ultrasound in humans mainly date from some time ago, and used different techniques and lower exposures than are used today. There is little direct evidence on the safety of modern techniques, but no ill effects have been reported.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) advises that people should not hesitate to continue using ultrasound for diagnostic and other medical purposes, including in pregnancy. Such use has an established track record of safety and is regulated.

Window to the Womb conform to the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (A.L.A.R.A) principles set out by The British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) to ensure that all of our ultrasound scans are within the specified guidelines

The HPA have issued a report on Ultrasound back in 2010. You can see the full report here:

Health Effects of Exposure to Ultrasound and Infrasound by an Advisory Group to the Health Protection Agency

What’s the emotional impact?

Ultrasound has enjoyed an enthusiastic reception by pregnant women. In addition to revealing the baby’s health, the images themselves provide a keepsake. “Overwhelmingly, pregnant women expect to be scanned and are moved and excited by seeing the fetus,” Nicolson said — especially if the baby moves. In fact, Nicolson said, some women report not feeling pregnant until they’ve seen the ultrasound image.