For pregnant women, the ultrasound is a valuable diagnostic tool that permits your doctor to monitor the condition of your baby, check for growth, and monitor fluid levels in the womb. If you are expecting a baby or plan to get pregnant soon, you will likely have at least one or two ultrasounds during your pregnancy. Here are a few important things you need to know for pregnancy-related ultrasounds.
1. The Type of Ultrasound the Technician Performs Depends on How Far Along You are in Your Pregnancy
If you are early in your pregnancy, your ultrasound technician may order a transvaginal ultrasound instead of a conventional abdominal ultrasound. During the early stages of pregnancy, the growing fetus is so small that standard ultrasound procedures are unable to provide clear imagines and measurements.
A transvaginal ultrasound solves this problem; the technician will insert a lubricated probe into the vagina to create crystal-clear ultrasound images and take precise measurements. Not every doctor orders an ultrasound during early pregnancy. Your OBGYN may suggest an early ultrasound to date your pregnancy or to more closely monitor your pregnancy for complications.
The point at which the technician switches to a standard abdominal ultrasound varies from doctor to doctor, but it usually occurs at some point towards the end of the first trimester once the embryo has grown in size. The technician will apply gel to the abdomen and use an external probe to get the necessary images and measurements.
2. The Later You Are in Your Pregnancy, the Less Reliable the Ultrasound is For Dating Purposes
There is a reason that your OBGYN requires that your dating ultrasound fall early in your pregnancy; as your pregnancy progresses, the ultrasound becomes less reliable for dating the pregnancy. This is because embryos start off growing at fairly standard rates. However, the fetus will eventually follow its own growth curve, especially at later stages of your pregnancy.
3. 3D Ultrasounds are Great for Helping Parents Bond with Their Babies, But They are Not Medically Necessary
Many parents request a 3D or 4D ultrasound of their baby. Both 3D and 4D ultrasounds are safe when performed by a trained technician, and you may be able to get a sneak peak at your baby's facial features.
However, 3D and 4D ultrasounds are of little use for diagnostic purposes. If your doctor has concerns regarding the growth or development of your baby, an advanced ultrasound or fetal echocardiography may be ordered, such as from EVDI Medical Imaging. Both of these procedures provide clearer 2D images of the fetus so that your OBGYN can examine any areas of concern.