While most doctors recommend one ultrasound per pregnancy, there are many reasons (and times) you could get one. Here are some reasons your doctor may send you for an ultrasound during your pregnancy and how you can prepare.
if you get an ultrasound during the first trimester of your pregnancy, it will probably a transvaginal scan. The technician will use a probe inside your vagina to get a better image. They may look for:
- The baby's heartbeat
- The location of the baby (to make sure it is in your uterus and not your Fallopian tubes)
- The size of the baby to determine an accurate due date
- Any abnormalities in the baby or your cervix
They may ask you to drink several cups of water an hour before the exam because a full bladder lifts your intestines away and gives a better picture of your organs.
During the second trimester, you may get an ultrasound to:
- Check for any fetal malformations
- See if you have enough amniotic fluid
- Make sure your baby is growing correctly (though they usually won't change your due date at this point)
- Examine the placenta
You can find out the gender of your baby after 14 weeks if they use an ultrasound wand and 16 weeks if they use a traditional ultrasound.
Ultrasounds are less common during the third trimester because the baby is getting too large to examine. However, they are still occasionally done to:
- Check the location of your placenta
- Look for any abnormalities
- See which way your baby is facing
- Observe your baby's movements
Getting an ultrasound is not a necessary part of pregnancy, but they are helpful. If an abnormality is discovered, it does not mean something is wrong with your baby. Further tests will be done before any diagnoses are made. You will be able to then decide how to proceed.
Preparing For Your Exam
Ultrasounds don't require much preparation. Wear loose clothes so that the technician can easily access your abdomen. If you have other children, consider having them wait outside until the technician is ready to announce the gender. If you receive bad news, you won't want them to be there. Ask beforehand if the technician will take photographs or video during the procedure. Most will, so it is good to remind them before they get started.
Your doctor and the technician will be happy to answer any other questions you have. For more information on this and other women's health topics, contact a professional like All Women's Clinic.