Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. But it can also be overwhelming, especially the first ultrasound.
The first ultrasound is a big moment for any expectant parent. It’s when you’ll get to see your little one for the first time and hear a heartbeat.
To help get you more excited about your upcoming ultrasound, here are some things you can expect:
1. What Is A Pregnancy Ultrasound?
A pregnancy ultrasound is a safe and painless procedure that uses sound waves to get an image of your baby. Ultrasounds are commonly used during pregnancy to monitor fetal development and health.
Ultrasounds can help confirm how many babies you’re expecting, check your baby’s position in the uterus, and determine whether there are any congenital disabilities or other conditions. They also help doctors assess how much amniotic fluid surrounds your baby, indicating how well your body supplies nutrients to your developing child.
An ultrasound may be performed by a technician, doctor, or midwife trained to perform the procedure. Ultrasounds are usually scheduled for specific reasons, but if you have questions about when to do one, talk with your doctor or midwife. You can learn more here about the gynecological and pregnancy diagnostic ultrasound services available.
2. How Does An Ultrasound Work?
Ultrasound waves are used in an ultrasound scan to produce images of internal organs and structures within the body. An image is formed by bouncing high-frequency sound waves off tissues within the body, which then reflect the probe placed onto the skin surface area examined during the exam.
A monitor then displays the image. It can be interpreted by a radiologist or other medical professional who has been trained in reading these types of images to detect abnormalities or problems within your baby’s anatomy that other methods, such as standard prenatal blood tests, may miss.
3. What Types Of Pregnancy Ultrasounds Are There?
Ultrasounds are often called sonograms but refer to the same test—a picture taken inside your body using sound waves. If you’re pregnant, you might be wondering about some of the available ultrasounds. Ultrasounds can provide a lot of information about your baby and your pregnancy and may help your doctor diagnose any issues that may arise during your pregnancy.
There are three types of prenatal ultrasounds that you may choose from:
- Transvaginal Ultrasound: A vaginal ultrasound uses a probe inserted into the vagina. This method is used for early pregnancy and for women with a hysterectomy or irregular periods.
- Transabdominal Ultrasound: An abdominal ultrasound uses an instrument placed on the stomach to get images of your baby. This type of ultrasound is most commonly used later in pregnancy when an image of the baby’s face and body is needed for a clear picture.
- Doppler Ultrasound: A doppler ultrasound is used when your doctor wants to see how the placenta is functioning, such as if there are any problems with it or if there are signs that it may detach from your uterus too soon. The doppler device sends sound waves that bounce off your baby’s body and back to the probe, displaying them as a graph on a monitor.
4. How Long Does An Ultrasound Take?
A typical ultrasound takes around 30 minutes or so. However, the technician may have you change positions a few times during the exam, so the time can vary.
If you’re having an early ultrasound, it may take longer than 30 minutes. If you’re having an ultrasound performed after week 12 of pregnancy, it may take less time because the baby’s features are already evident.
5. What Happens In The First-Trimester Ultrasound?
The first-trimester ultrasound is performed to confirm the pregnancy and determine the gestational age.
The ultrasound is usually performed during weeks 10–12 of pregnancy. However, it can be done earlier or later, depending on your medical history, your doctor’s preference, or your insurance coverage. The first-trimester ultrasound is a transvaginal scan if you are less than 10 weeks pregnant, but most women receive an abdominal scan between weeks 11 and 13.
6. What Happens In The Second-Trimester Ultrasound?
The second-trimester ultrasound is performed around week 14, about halfway through pregnancy. This ultrasound aims to determine the baby’s gestational age and ensure that everything’s developing normally.
During the ultrasound, several things can be looked at:
- The gender of the baby
- The size of the baby
- The position of the placenta
- The blood flow through the umbilical cord
The scan typically takes around 20 minutes and can be done at your doctor’s office or a hospital. You lie on your back while the technician places a gel on your abdomen and moves an ultrasound probe over it. The technician can see the baby on a monitor while they’re moving the probe around.
7. What Happens In The Third-Trimester Ultrasound?
The third-trimester ultrasound is a screening procedure that takes place around week 36 of your pregnancy. The purpose of this test is to check on your baby’s growth and development and measure the amniotic fluid level in your womb.
The ultrasound technician performs an external scan of your belly, which means they’ll use a hand-held transducer wand to scan the surface of your skin. You can expect it to take 10–15 minutes.
If any concerns or abnormalities are detected during the first scan, a second scan may be performed around week 37 or 38 of pregnancy. If you don’t have any complications, you may not need a second scan at all.
If you have any questions or concerns about your first ultrasound, don’t hesitate to reach out to your OB-GYN. They’ll guide you through what to expect during the exam and answer any questions you might have.
Try to breathe and relax. Ultrasounds are a wonderful way to learn more about your baby. Remember that your doctor is there with you and that they want nothing more than to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy.