Utrasound: What you need to know

An ultrasound is possibly the most welcome part of the prenatal care. Early in the pregnancy an ultrasound is used to confirm the foetal heartbeats and also check if it is a uterine pregnancy. As the pregnancy proceeds they are used to monitor foetal growth, placenta location, umbilical cord and the general anatomy and health of the baby. In case of a suspected preterm labour, an ultrasound can also be done to check the length of the cervix.

All pregnant women receive at least two ultrasounds during the entire pregnancy. Any medical complications could warrant extra ultrasounds during the pregnancy.

An ultrasound is done using a wand or transducer over the abdomen. A gel is rubbed on the belly and then a transducer is rubbed over the area. It emits sound waves which bounce of the baby to produce the image on the screen for you to view.

During the first trimester the sonographer may perform a transvaginal or internal ultrasound. The only difference is that a small, long transducer wand is covered with a condom and sterile lubricant and then inserted into the vagina. The wand will then be moved around your vaginal cavity to scan the uterus.

The ultrasounds are painless except that the first trimester transabdominal ultrasound is uncomfortable as it requires you to have a full bladder. The sonograhper pressing hard on the full bladder to view the baby clearly can be extremely uncomfortable. They are low-risk too but it is advised not to overuse the procedure as it is not known if that could cause complications.

You will get a sonogram which is the actual picture to take home with you.

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