Do I Need an Ultrasound When I’m Pregnant?

pregnant woman What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to produce diagnostic images of tissues of the body. It can be used for a wide range of situations. It is useful because, unlike an x-ray, it creates clear pictures of soft tissue. It is also known as a sonogram.

What is a Pregnancy Ultrasound?

A pregnancy ultrasound is a test used to monitor the health of a developing baby by producing imagery of the fetus and the surrounding area. It should be used several times in the course of a pregnancy to ensure development is proceeding as expected.

In addition to the conventional ultrasound, there are several sophisticated variants that are used in special situations. For example, there are 3D and even 4D ultrasounds. Echocardiography is an advanced form of pregnancy ultrasound that diagnoses issues with the fetal heart.

Why Might You Get a Pregnancy Ultrasound?

Most pregnant women will have at least one or two pregnancy ultrasounds performed at the request of their doctor. If you are at risk of pregnancy complications, then you may receive a full set of pregnancy ultrasounds at specific points throughout the pregnancy.

Some risk factors physicians look out for include:

  • Advanced age
  • Maternal obesity
  • Lifestyle factors like alcohol or tobacco use
  • A family history of pregnancy complications

Just because a doctor requests a pregnancy ultrasound, it does not mean there will be a problem. On the contrary, having an ultrasound performed promptly can help alert you to developmental concerns so appropriate changes can be made in prenatal treatment.

This maximizes health and safety for the mother and child.

When to Get a Pregnancy Ultrasound

Your obstetrician will advise you with regards to the best time for a pregnancy ultrasound. A healthy expectant mother should expect at least two, and sometimes several more. You should also contact your obstetrician right away if you encounter symptoms of illness not in keeping with a typical pregnancy experience. Such cases might prompt an additional ultrasound.

An ultrasound is typically performed for the following reasons:

  • During the First Trimester
    • Confirm the pregnancy
    • Check the fetal heartbeat
    • Estimate the due date
    • Check for multiple pregnancies
    • Look for abnormal growthEnsure the health of the mother’s reproductive organs
  • During the Second & Third Trimester
    • Monitor the growth of the fetus and its position
    • Determine the sex of the fetus
    • Check for issues with the placenta
    • Check for characteristics associated with birth defects
    • Monitor blood flow, amniotic fluid, and oxygen levels
    • Diagnose issues with the uterus or the ovaries
    • Determine whether other tests may be needed

Preparing for an Ultrasound

Early in pregnancy, it is usually necessary to have a full bladder at the start of the procedure in order to get clear images of the fetus. Two or three 8-ounce glasses of water are sufficient. As soon as the procedure is complete, you can use the restroom.

What Happens During an Ultrasound?

During the procedure, you will lie on an examination table or bed. A trained ultrasound specialist will apply a water-based gel to the abdomen and pelvic region to help the sound waves travel more efficiently. A small wand is then moved across the area to capture the images.

It may take several minutes to capture all the needed images. They are black and white, and may need to be manually measured by the ultrasound technician. At different points, you might be asked to hold your breath so that a specific image can be taken correctly.

At Huey & Weprin, pregnancy ultrasounds are part of a complete prenatal care regime.

To learn more, contact us today.

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