Do you know what’s more exciting than seeing those two lines in your pregnancy test? A sonogram or ultrasound image of your little bundle of joy! Soon-to-be-moms typically look forward to ultrasounds during their pregnancy more than any other prenatal appointments. After all, getting a sneak peek of the new life growing inside you is a momentous moment.
That said, if this is your first ultrasound appointment, here are some important things you need to know about prenatal ultrasounds.
- Prenatal Ultrasound: What Is It And How Does It Work?
A prenatal ultrasound or sonogram is a common procedure offered to pregnant women that provides an image of their baby. A healthcare professional can also use this to determine the baby’s form and position in the uterus with an ultrasound.
An ultrasound uses a small, handheld device known as a transducer, pressing it against the area and moving it around to capture images. The transducer emits sound waves that echo back, and are sent to the computer to create a black and white image.
- Who Performs An Ultrasound?
Performing and interpreting ultrasound scans is a highly complex and technical process that requires significant experience and training. Thus, an ultrasound is usually performed by a sonographer who’s trained and certified to do this.
However, in the case of pregnant women, your OBGYN or obstetrician can also perform the ultrasound, provided that they’ve undergone appropriate training and are certified to do so. Click here to learn and find more information about sonogram training for medical practitioners.
Note that an ultrasound performed by an unqualified or untrained person can result in poor-quality images and an incorrect diagnosis or checkup assessment of your baby.
- Why You Need An Ultrasound?
As mentioned before, an ultrasound is a common procedure for pregnant women. After taking a pregnancy test, an ultrasound can help confirm that you’re really pregnant.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, it helps when checking for a heartbeat and the general development of your baby. An ultrasound during this time also helps in diagnosing any abnormal growth in the fetus. It can also help your doctor assess whether you’re having twins or multiple pregnancies. In addition, an early ultrasound could also allow your OBGYN to estimate the age of your baby and figure out your possible due date.
Your provider may also require an ultrasound during the second and third trimester to monitor your baby’s growth and position for childbirth. This can also be the time when you can confirm the sex of your baby. And more so, an ultrasound in late pregnancy is mostly done to check for any growth abnormalities or problems with your uterus and surrounding organs.
- Different Types Of Prenatal Ultrasounds
When talking about ultrasounds, most people immediately think of a pregnant woman lying on the exam table and their OBGYN moving around a tool on her gel-covered tummy to check her baby.
However, there are other types of prenatal ultrasounds used. The kind you get will depend on what your OBGYN is checking for and your current pregnancy stage.
- Transabdominal Ultrasound
This is the type of ultrasound mentioned above; this is where your OBGYN will apply a gel to your pelvic and abdomen area and move a transducer onto your belly to capture images of the inside of your uterus.
- Transvaginal Ultrasound
As its name implies, a transvaginal ultrasound is done by inserting a wand-like transducer into your vagina to check your baby.
- Doppler Ultrasound
A doppler ultrasound provides information on your baby’s blood circulation as well as overall blood flow in the uterus and placenta. It usually takes place during the second trimester, allowing you to hear your baby’s heartbeat.
- 3D And 4D Ultrasound
Both 3D and 4D ultrasounds are not standard prenatal tests. However, you can ask your OB-GYN for this type of ultrasound if they have access to 3D or 4D ultrasounds.
3D and 4D ultrasounds can give you a photograph-like image of your baby. The only difference is that 3D is a still image while 4D offers a live video effect where you can watch your baby yawn and move around your womb.
While most parents ask for a 3D or 4D ultrasound as a keepsake, your provider can also use it to detect potential birth defects which might not show up with regular ultrasound.
- Is It Safe?
Yes. Ultrasounds have been used for monitoring pregnant women and their unborn children for decades now and specialists have not found any risks associated with the procedure.
Also, unlike other testing methods like X-ray, ultrasound only uses sound waves which has no negative impact on both the mother and unborn baby.
Ultrasound imaging has made it possible for soon-to-be moms to meet their little bean inside their tummy. But more than that, it allows your healthcare provider to check on your baby’s health and overall development, ensuring that he or she grows stronger before meeting you in the real world.