Anticipation is a big part of pregnancy. You wonder what your baby will look like and, more importantly, if he will be healthy. An ultrasound offers an early look inside the womb and a chance to learn a little more about your baby’s due date and well-being.
A first-trimester ultrasound is usually done 7 to 8 weeks after the first day of your last period, says Rebecca Jackson, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. “The main thing is to confirm the pregnancy date to make sure we have an accurate due date, to make sure we’re able to see the baby’s heartbeat and to see if there’s a or more fetuses.”
Your doctor can also use this test to screen for genetic problems, as well as detect any problems with your uterus or cervix. If you are anxious to know the sex of the baby, you will have to wait a little longer. The gender reveal, along with more information about your baby’s anatomy, will come during your next ultrasound, which will take place between weeks 18 and 22 of your pregnancy.
The typical ultrasound creates a two-dimensional cross-sectional image of your baby. Some establishments advertise 3D and even 4D ultrasounds, which produce a more photographic image of your baby. These high-tech scans aren’t necessary, but they may be preferable if you suspect your baby has an abnormality like a cleft palate that’s harder to see clearly with 2D imaging.
A prenatal ultrasound can be done in two ways: transabdominal (on your stomach) or transvaginal (into your vagina). You can have a transvaginal ultrasound if it’s very early in your pregnancy, as it produces a more accurate picture of your still-tiny baby.
For a transabdominal ultrasound, you will arrive with a full bladder. A full bladder tilts your uterus upwards and spreads your bowels out for easier visualization.
The technician will put gel on a hand-held device called a transducer and move it over your stomach. The transducer releases sound waves, which bounce off the bones, fluids and tissues of the fetus to create an image of the baby in your womb. You will be able to see your baby on a video screen.
During a transvaginal ultrasound, you will undress from the waist down and put your feet in stirrups, just like you would for a pelvic exam. The technician will cover the transducer with a condom-like sheath and lubricant before placing it in your vagina.
It’s important to have an ultrasound during your pregnancy because it can give your doctor a lot of information about your baby quickly. “It’s very safe during pregnancy,” Jackson says. “There is no risk.” If the technician finds any problems, you may need to come back for a second ultrasound or other tests.
1958: The year doctors performed the first ultrasound.
2: Number of ultrasounds, on average, that women in the United States undergo during their pregnancy.
120 to 160 beats per minute: A normal fetal heart rate.
75%: the accuracy of ultrasound in determining the sex of the baby during the first trimester.
100%: Accuracy of ultrasound in determining the sex of the baby during the second trimester.
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