Now that you learned that you are pregnant, your doctor may ask you to undergo several ultrasounds during your pregnancy.? A prenatal ultrasound, also called a sonogram, is a prenatal care procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to determine the condition of your baby.? Through this procedure, your health care provider will be able to determine several important things such as your baby?s size, heartbeat, how the fetal organs are growing, and your expected date of delivery.? These sound waves also help provide an image of your baby inside your womb. Undergoing an ultrasound during pregnancy also helps determine the placenta?s location, fetal growth, and the position of the umbilical cord.? In short, ultrasounds allow you to have a close-up of your baby while he or she is inside your tummy.
An ultrasound in early pregnancy (during the first trimester) is conducted to determine the gestational age of the fetus and the date of delivery.? In fact, some practitioners conduct an ultrasound test as early as 6 to 10 weeks. An ultrasound in early pregnancy is also performed to check if the baby is developing within the womb rather than in the fallopian tubes (tubular or ectopic pregnancy). There are some centers that perform ultrasounds during the 9th to 13th week of pregnancy to check the existence of developmental problems such as Down syndrome.? This test is conducted together with a blood test to further validate the accuracy of their findings.
You may also have your ultrasound some time during your mid-pregnancy between 16th to 20th weeks.? During this time, the doctor will be able to determine your baby?s gender, if you can?t wait until delivery. But experts suggest that the best time to conduct an ultrasound during pregnancy is between your 18th to 22nd weeks of pregnancy.? This is considered as the mid-pregnancy period where a level 2 Ultrasound can be performed.? It is a more detailed anatomy scan which is administered by a trained sonographer in a specialized clinic or in a hospital.
Ultrasounds conducted during mid-pregnancy provide much information about the different aspects of your pregnancy to ensure the birth of a healthy baby. Your doctor will check your baby?s heartbeat, your baby?s size, see if you are carrying twins or multiple babies, check your placenta?s location, assess the amniotic fluid in your uterus, check if your baby has physical abnormalities, and to determine your baby?s sex. Ultrasounds are also very helpful in determining if you have a risk in having a preterm labor and to check your cervix length.
How is an ultrasound conducted? Often, ultrasounds are conducted on your abdomen though they can also be done through the vagina. Before your abdomen is scanned, a gel is rubbed over your tummy to help the conduction of sound waves. The transducer, a small device, is then slid back and forth over your abdomen while transmitting high frequency sound waves. These sound waves bounce off your baby and reflect back to the transducer which results the creation of pictures of your baby on the screen. The technician or doctor conducting the procedure will also proceed to take the necessary measurements such as the crown-rump length (CRL), the biparietal diameter (BPD, and the femur length (FL). The procedure usually lasts for 20 to 30 minutes. After the measurements and pictures are taken, the gel is wiped off and the doctor will discuss the results of the test.
Ultrasounds are one of the most important non-invasive procedures that you will have to undergo during your pregnancy due to the valuable information that it provides. And if you are worried about possible complications or risks to your pregnancy and baby, don?t be. There are no side effects and risks, the procedure is painless, and the worst thing that can happen is that you may feel the need to pee while undergoing the procedure simply because you?re pregnant.