Ultrasounds During Pregnancy

Ultrasounds are a procedure in which high frequency sound waves make it possible to see inside the abdominal cavity. The echos from the sound waves are recorded, and a sonogram image or video can then be viewed on a screen. Ultrasounds are a very valuable resource for OB/GYNs, and allow them to ensure that both mother and baby are healthy throughout the pregnancy. There are a few different types of ultrasounds used during pregnancy, such as:

Transvaginal Ultrasound

A transvaginal ultrasound involves a probe being inserted into the vagina in order to get a clearer sonogram image of the ovaries and uterus. This type of ultrasound is typically used in the early weeks of pregnancy and is used to determine gestational age or check the embryo if the mother has complained of any problems, such as early pregnancy bleeding or has signs of an ectopic pregnancy. A transvaginal ultrasound typically is not painful or especially uncomfortable.

Traditional Ultrasound

During a traditional ultrasound, a jelly is rubbed on the mother's stomach and a transducer is used to generate a sonogram of the developing baby. Most women have a traditional ultrasound mid-way through their pregnancies to ensure that they baby has all of his or her body parts and does not show any signs of birth defects. During this ultrasound most parents can find out the sex of the baby if they would like to know. Some women, especially those who are high risk or carrying multiples, may have several ultrasounds over the course of their pregnancies, but most healthy pregnancies do not require multiple ultrasounds.

3-D Ultrasound

The procedure for a 3-D ultrasound is very similar to a traditional ultrasound, but the computer and software used produces 3-D sonogram images that tend to show more details than a traditional sonogram image. 3-D ultrasounds are not necessary during pregnancy, but many expectant parents like to see their developing baby, so they pay extra for this elective procedure.

Ultrasounds are used much more often in pregnancies today than they were in past decades, and some people question if ultrasounds are safe for a developing fetus. When done by a doctor or licensed ultrasound technician, ultrasounds are generally safe during pregnancy. An ultrasound is not like an x-ray-- ultrasounds uses sound waves, so neither mother or baby is exposed to radiation. As with most things during your pregnancy, you should follow your doctor's advice regarding ultrasounds during your pre-natal care. Contact a local clinic, like All Women's Clinic, for more information.