Pregnancy Ultrasounds: When and Why

An ultrasound is an imaging, prenatal test that is offered to pregnant women. Also called a sonogram, it uses sound waves to create a picture of the fetus, as well as the mother’s reproductive organs. An average number of ultrasounds can vary with each pregnancy. The main purpose of an ultrasound is to check up on the baby’s growth and development to make sure they are healthy. If you are pregnant, make sure to visit the best gynecologist in islamabad regularly, so that they can monitor your baby’s growth.

Types of Pregnancy Ultrasounds

An hour prior to the ultrasound, doctors recommend that patients drink two to three glasses of water. This is done to ensure that the bladder is full, it helps in getting a clear image. There are a number of ultrasounds ranging from standard to advanced. Let’s look at different types of pregnancy ultrasounds in detail.

  1. Standard Ultrasound

A standard ultrasound is conducted when the technician applies a special gel on your abdomen, and then moves a transducer across your skin to get an image. The image is black and white and can help your practitioner determine a number of things about you and the baby.

  1. 3-D Ultrasound

This ultrasound can be quite useful to detect any problems and allows your doctor to see the width, depth and height of the baby and your organs. The procedure is the same as a standard ultrasound, but an advanced software is used to create a 3-D image.

  1. 4-D Ultrasound

This ultrasound creates a moving video of the fetus, capturing a better image of its face and movements. With advanced technology, a 4-D ultrasound is also able to capture better highlights and shadows.

  1. Transvaginal Ultrasound

This ultrasound is usually done in the early stages of pregnancy, when producing an image can be a bit difficult. For the procedure, a small ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina. Resting against the back of the vagina, the probe captures an image.

  1. Doppler Ultrasound

Usually conducted in the last trimester, this ultrasound is performed to take a closer look at the blood flow to the baby if its growth isn’t normal. The process requires your practitioner to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and measure the blood flow in the umbilical cord and in the baby’s blood vessels.

  1. Fetal Echocardiography

This ultrasound looks at the fetus’s heart in detail, and is done if your doctor suspects your baby to have congenital heart defects. It produces a clear, in-depth image of the fetus’s heart, where the size, shape and structure are easy to determine.

When and why is an ultrasound recommended?

An ultrasound initially is done to confirm if you’re pregnant or not. Uncomplicated pregnancies usually have fewer ultrasounds, as compared to high-risk ones. In the first trimester of pregnancy, that is the first twelve weeks, ultrasounds can be done to:

  • Check the fetus’s heartbeat
  • Determine gestational age of the fetus
  • Estimate a due date
  • Examine the placenta, ovaries, uterus and cervix
  • Check for abnormal growth in the fetus

It can also be used to check for multiple pregnancies, diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the foetus doesn’t attach to the uterus, or in unfortunate cases, identify a miscarriage. To be on the safe side, be regular with your visit to gynecologists at the Medicare Cardiac & General Hospital.

The second trimester begins from the twelfth week and goes on till the twenty-fourth one, while the third trimester starts from the twenty-fourth week and ends at forty weeks, or birth. During that time, an ultrasound is recommended to:

  • Check on the fetus’s growth and development
  • Identify the baby’s position: breech, transverse, cephalic or optimal
  • Determine the sex of the baby
  • Identify any problems with the placenta. For example, placenta previa or placental abruption
  • Check for congenital abnormalities or birth defects
  • Check the fetus for structural abnormalities
  • Identify any blood flow problems
  • Identify characteristics for Down’s syndrome
  • Check the levels of amniotic fluid
  • Guiding an amniocentesis
  • Monitor the oxygen intake of the fetus

The ultrasound can also be done to measure the length of the cervix and diagnose possible pregnancy tumors. In any case, while the technology is safe for both the mother and child, doctors do not recommend excessive use of ultrasounds unless there is a medical reason for it.