Most moms-to-be look forward to ultrasounds more during pregnancy than any other prenatal appointment. Why? It’s easy to see! It’s fun to sneak a peek at your baby while your OBGYN checks for sure signs of growth and development. Many women want to find out as soon as possible what their baby’s gender is, and they can’t wait for their 20-week ultrasound. Others want to be caught off guard. Even if you don’t want to find out the gender of your baby right away, you should still go to all your ultrasound appointments.
An ultrasound, also called a sonogram, is usually done by an ultrasound technician or, in rare cases, an OBGYN. It uses sound waves to take a picture of your body’s organs. (These sound waves will hurt neither you nor your baby.) During pregnancy, ultrasounds help doctors discover many diseases and conditions, even ones that have nothing to do with pregnancy.
This article will explain why and how ultrasounds are used during pregnancy. It will also tell you how many ultrasounds you can expect and what your OBGYN may be looking for at each one.
Most pregnant women only get two ultrasounds: one at the beginning of their pregnancy and one about halfway through. Some women may have as many as three ultrasounds depending on several things.
Your Very First Early Pregnancy Scan
The “dating” or “viability” ultrasound is your first ultrasound. It’s usually performed between 7-8 weeks to determine when the baby is due, check for a heartbeat, and measure the baby’s length from “crown to rump.” You’ll also find out at this ultrasound if you have one baby, twins, or more! You might even get to see or hear your baby’s heartbeat during this visit.
If your periods don’t come on time or you didn’t have one after you stopped taking birth control, this ultrasound will help you figure out a more accurate due date. Your due date is essential because it lets your doctor know each month if your baby is growing and changing as it should.
How to Prepare for Your First Ultrasound?
When you are only 7 or 8 weeks pregnant, your foetus is only about 2 centimetres long. The dating ultrasound is done transvaginally so that the foetus and uterus can be seen clearly. This means the ultrasound is done from the inside or “through the vagina.” A transvaginal ultrasound is not painful but can be a little uncomfortable. Most people would say it feels less invasive than a speculum-based gynaecological exam.
To do this ultrasound, your OBGYN or ultrasound tech will gently put a thin ultrasound wand inside your vagina. A transducer is another name for the wand used for a transvaginal ultrasound. It has a diameter of about 3 cm, a little bigger than a tampon. A condom and lubricant will be used to cover it. The wand won’t reach your cervix and is safe for your baby.
You might be asked to have a full bladder at your first ultrasound. If you have a full bladder, your uterus will be in a better place for the ultrasound.
What does Your Doctor Will Look for at Your First Ultrasound?
- The health of a pregnancy
- The heartbeat of a foetus
- Fetal size
- Single or multiple pregnancies
- Ultrasound for Genetic Screening
If you choose to have prenatal genetic testing, your next ultrasound will be between 12 and 13 weeks into your pregnancy. This ultrasound is also called a nuchal translucency screening. Everyone can get it, and most insurance plans pay for it. This ultrasound for genetic screening is not required.
Your doctor will look for signs of chromosomal disorders during this ultrasound. Chromosomal disorders happen when a baby is born with an extra chromosome. This can cause mild to severe physical or mental problems. Some of these disorders are:
- Down Syndrome is also called Trisomy 21.
- The condition is called trisomy 13.
- Three 18s
This ultrasound will be a scan of the body’s structure. Your doctor will check to see if you have all four limbs. They will also look for basic structures in the brain, stomach, bladder, nasal bone, and, last but not least, something called nuchal translucency. A fluid-filled sack called nuchal transparency is at the back of the baby’s neck. There are links between how big that bag of fluid is and how likely the baby will have a significant chromosomal disorder.
After the ultrasound, your OBGYN will look at the results and talk to you about what they mean. You may also meet with a genetic counsellor, who may suggest that you do more tests to confirm the ultrasound results.
Keep in mind that as the pregnancy goes on, ultrasound tests for other genetic disorders or abnormalities in the body become more accurate.
Having an ultrasound while pregnant is a fascinating way to see your baby as it grows. Don’t be afraid to ask your OBGYN for more information about genetic screening as you decide whether you want it. And make sure you have enough time for your ultrasounds, especially the all-important full anatomy scan.
If you are unsure or detect any health issue in the baby, then it’s advisable to get private pregnancy termination from the clinics. It’s for the best for you and your baby. Get in touch with us today.