During pregnancy, there are a few methods that OB/GYNs use to follow its development and the development of the fetus. One of the methods includes ultrasounds, now a common and regular part of prenatal care. Ultrasounds during pregnancy are one of the best and easiest ways to determine if the pregnancy is inside the uterus and if the fetus has a heartbeat – the two most important factors of being pregnant.
How many ultrasounds during pregnancy are normal? The answer to that can vary depending on the progress and the nature of your pregnancy. Stay tuned for more information about the role of ultrasound in pregnancy.
Who Performs Ultrasounds?
If this is your first time being pregnant, you probably have tons of questions and dilemmas. This is why it’s important to find a reliable OB/GYN who will make sure to lead you through every step of your pregnancy and make it a happy and healthy one.
When Are Ultrasounds Done in Pregnancy?
Ultrasounds are designed in such a way that is helpful during pregnancy because they are able to follow its progress and the development of your baby. Usually, ultrasounds at 9 weeks pregnant are performed to determine the existence of the baby’s heartbeat and to allow parents to have the first look at their tiny human.
Since the pregnancy is divided into three parts, the ultrasounds are done accordingly to make sure everything is okay and that the baby is growing well. Let’s see how this works:
- First-trimester ultrasounds
The earliest pregnancy ultrasound every pregnant woman is recommended to have is somewhere between 6 and 9 weeks of her pregnancy. This first ultrasound is used for the following:
- To determine your due date by measuring the fetus
- Confirm that there is a heartbeat, although sometimes it’s too early so an additional ultrasound is performed for this
- Confirm the placement of the pregnancy – see if it’s a uterine, ectopic or tubular pregnancy
- Determine the number of fetuses growing inside your uterus
Sometimes performing an ultrasound can be done earlier, but chances are that no significant information will be available. Your health care provider should be able to tell you more about ultrasounds upon your first visit, so don’t hesitate to ask everything you want to know and get informed about what is relevant for your pregnancy.
- Second-trimester ultrasounds
Although some ultrasounds at 4 weeks show that you are pregnant, you will have to do another one somewhere between 18 and 22 weeks of your pregnancy. This is called a Level 2 ultrasound and doctors also call it a detailed anomaly scan. This ultrasound requires modern and sophisticated equipment, so it’s usually done in well-equipped hospitals or health centers.
This ultrasound gives your OB/GYN a chance to have a good look at your baby and monitor its development. You will also have a chance to see how your baby is growing. Besides this, the Level 2 ultrasound can show the following:
- The way your baby is developing, as well as the major organs that are still in development. All the relevant measurements such as the size of the head and some bigger bones in your baby’s body. The doctor will also try to see if the placenta is in a good position, as well as if there is enough amniotic fluid.
- The sex of the baby, if you are curious to find out, but sometimes the baby is in such a position that the sex cannot be determined.
- All the tiny details about your baby. You can ask your doctor to show you its head, feet, hands, and face. They can also give you a photo you can take home with you.
This routine level 2 ultrasound is usually done in 2D, however, your doctor may suggest a 3D or 4D ultrasound if they consider it necessary. These will be able to show serious problems if there are any, and closely examine the development of the baby if the Level 2 ultrasound wasn’t enough.
How Is an Ultrasound Performed?
If you decide to do sonograms at 6 weeks pregnant, your doctor will most likely do a transvaginal ultrasound. Transvaginal ultrasound is done by inserting a small and long transducer wrapped in a condom-like cover. With the help of lubricant, your OB/GYN will be able to move it around your uterus to get a better look at the position of your pregnancy, as well as your baby.
After the 8th week of pregnancy, your practitioner will perform transabdominal ultrasounds since the baby will be big enough for that. For this purpose, they will put some gel on your abdomen and place a wand over your belly in order to see the inside of your uterus and the development of the baby.
How Long Does an Ultrasound Last?
Usually, ultrasounds last from a few minutes to half an hour, depending on what your doctor needs to see and examine. They are minimally invasive and painless but can be a bit uncomfortable since the wand will be putting pressure on your bladder to get a better look at your uterus. However, this is only during the first-trimester ultrasound, when the baby is very small and the doctor needs to press to see what they need to see.
Additional Ultrasounds During Pregnancy
Performing a two-weeks pregnancy ultrasound is way too early for the doctor to be able to determine anything. However, after some time, when the baby has developed enough so that the doctor can see its progress, they might suggest additional ultrasounds as well. Although ultrasounds are painless and non-invasive, you shouldn’t go overboard with doing them.
If your OB/GYN suggests that you should do ultrasound check-ups more often than it’s recommended, they must have a good reason for it. If the pregnancy is considered high-risk, you might be going in for ultrasounds more often for close monitoring of you and the baby. Also, if you have multiple pregnancies (twins, triples, etc.) or have experienced spotting at some point during your pregnancy, your health care provider will probably suggest frequent ultrasounds to monitor the growth and reduce the possibility of premature labor.
Having ultrasounds during pregnancy is the best way to follow the progress of your pregnancy and the growth of your baby/babies. A good doctor and OB/GYN should be able to walk you through everything you need to know about ultrasounds, so don’t hesitate to ask whatever you want to know.
At Women’s Care of Bradenton, we specialize in providing our patients with all the necessary care and treatment. Our staff is trained to employ different methods and offer obstetrical, gynecological, and infertility services. With modern equipment and skilled doctors, you will know you’re in safe hands! Contact us today and book an appointment with someone from our team of experts.