Ultrasounds During Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know
Pregnancy is a joyful time for a woman filled with anticipation and wonder. One of the most essential aspects of this journey is ultrasounds to monitor the growth and development of the baby and ensure their well-being.
This blog will cover all you need to know about ultrasounds, including what they are, why they are important, and what routine scans may be provided during pregnancy.
What is a pregnancy ultrasound?
A pregnancy ultrasound, commonly known as a sonogram, is a medical procedure that uses sound waves to produce images of your developing baby within the uterus. During the procedure, a gel is applied to your belly, and a transducer probe is gently pressed on your skin. The probe emits sound waves, which bounce off your baby, creating echoes. These echoes are converted into images by a computer, which are then displayed on a monitor, allowing you to observe your baby’s development and well-being in real-time.
An ultrasound scan is usually done in the second trimester, around 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. It allows your doctor to:
- Monitor your baby’s growth and development
- Determine the gestational age (age of the pregnancy)
- Identify any abnormalities or complications
In some cases, women may also receive an ultrasound during the first trimester (between 13 and 14 weeks) to confirm pregnancy, evaluate the due date, and monitor the baby’s growth.
It’s important to remember that the exact number and timings of ultrasounds may vary depending on your doctor and health conditions, such as obesity, asthma, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc.
Why get a pregnancy ultrasound scan?
A pregnancy ultrasound scan is a safe method to gather essential information about your pregnancy and your baby’s health, ensuring proper management and care throughout the pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may use an ultrasound scan to:
- Confirm your pregnancy
- Determine your baby’s gestational age and due date (delivery date)
- Check for multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, and more)
- Check for pregnancy complications like abnormal bleeding, ectopic pregnancy (developing outside of the uterus), molar pregnancy, or miscarriage
- Monitor your baby’s growth, heart rate, and size
- Confirm your baby’s position in the uterus
- Check your baby’s organs and other structures
- Monitor your baby’s well-being
- Examine your pelvic organs like uterus, cervix, and ovaries
- Examine your amniotic fluid levels
- Check the position of the placenta
- Identify any fetal abnormalities
What routine scans might be provided during pregnancy?
Your doctor may suggest several types of routine scans during the pregnancy. Some of them include the following:
- Dating scan
A dating scan, commonly known as an early pregnancy scan, is typically performed on your tummy during the first trimester, between 6 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. This ultrasound scan can help your doctor to:
- Confirm you are pregnant
- Establish gestational age
- Estimate your baby’s due date
- Detect your baby’s heart rate
- Confirm the number of fetuses in your uterus, and determine whether multiples have the same placenta and amniotic sac.
- Check if your baby is growing in the uterus and not ectopic
- Nuchal translucency scan (NT)
A nuchal translucency scan is usually performed abdominally between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy. This scan is done to:
- Estimate the duration of your pregnancy carefully
- Check fetal cardiac activity
- Measure your baby’s length
- Examine the fetal structure, including measuring the fluid in the back of your baby’s neck
- Check if the baby has a low or high risk of common chromosomal disorders like Down’s Syndrome, Edward’s Syndrome, or Patau syndrome.
- TIFFA scan (Targeted Imaging For Fetal Anomalies)
TIFFA scan, also known as a fetal anomaly or target scan, is usually done during the 18 to 22 weeks of pregnancy. It is the most complete check-up your baby will receive before birth. Your doctor may perform this ultrasound can to:
- Check the structure and growth of your baby’s organs
- Estimate the proper gestational age and size of your baby
- Check your baby’s heart rate and rhythm
- Confirm your placenta is not near or on top of your cervix
- Examine the blood flow through the placenta
- Check the length of your cervix and ensure it is closed
- Identify fetal abnormalities
- Growth scan
A growth or well-being scan is performed between 23 and 40 weeks of pregnancy. This scan is done to:
- Check your baby’s growth and the position in your uterus
- Check your baby’s head, abdomen, and thigh bone
- Measure the amniotic fluid around your baby
- Check your baby’s blood vessels and blood flood flow through the placenta
Your doctor may advise you to repeat these scans after every four weeks to monitor your baby’s growth. A growth scan ensures the mother and baby have a safe and healthy delivery.
If you have concerns regarding your baby’s development or want to learn more about ultrasounds, we recommend scheduling an appointment at Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital.