Once you find out you are pregnant, you may try to imagine what your baby will look like. With the help of an ultrasound, you can get your first glimpse of your baby while you are still pregnant. An ultrasound machine uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image. Ultrasounds may be recommended by your doctor or midwife at various stages in pregnancy for different reasons.
A pregnancy ultrasound is performed for several medical reasons. Early in pregnancy, an ultrasound may be performed to confirm the location of the pregnancy and rule out an ectopic pregnancy, or help your doctor determine your due date. Ultrasounds are also performed to check for the baby’s growth rate, health of the placenta and to spot abnormalities. Toward the end of pregnancy, an ultrasound may help determine the position of the baby prior to delivery.
A few different types of pregnancy ultrasounds may be recommended during pregnancy. A standard ultrasound creates a 2-D image of your baby. Along with the beating heart, you can view your baby’s profile. A vaginal ultrasound is usually only performed early in pregnancy. It is done with a transducer designed for insertion into the vagina. The 3-D ultrasound creates a 3-D image of the baby and may be used to detect abnormalities, such as neural tube defects, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Depending on how far along your pregnancy is, you may be asked to drink several glasses of water before the ultrasound. Having a full bladder may help the technician get a better picture of your baby. Gel is spread over the abdomen and the transducer is moved across your belly. The process may take about 30 minutes. Images are created for your doctor to review and for you to take home.
Pregnancy ultrasounds are now being offered by non-medical businesses. These 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds are performed and keepsake images are given to expectant parents. According to the Oregon Health and Science University, an ultrasound performed for keepsake purposes only is not recommended. Personal performing the ultrasound may provide women with inaccurate information.
Although it is exciting to see your baby’s beating heart, some women may have concerns about safety and risks to the baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnancy ultrasounds performed on a routine basis are considered safe. The American Pregnancy Association also recommends that pregnancy ultrasounds only be performed when medically necessary, since the risks of repeated exposure to ultrasounds are not known.
- funny pregnancy image by Roman Barelko from Fotolia.com