A pregnancy ultrasound is used to create images of a developing baby and the pelvic organs of the mother during pregnancy. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures on a video monitor. Ultrasound does not use radiation like X-rays, and there are no known risks associated with the procedure. Ultrasound may be used from the fifth gestational week until delivery. It is an amazing way to view the growth of your developing baby.
An ultrasound uses a small conduction device that is placed on your skin for a pelvic ultrasound or a conduction wand that is inserted into the vagina for a transvaginal ultrasound. The conduction device transmits sound wave information that is translated into pictures on a monitor. Particular images may be saved in the computer or printed out.
In early pregnancy, an ultrasound may be used to confirm a healthy pregnancy, diagnose multiple pregnancies, and estimate the age of an embryo or fetus. An early ultrasound may be used to check for ectopic pregnancy, sources of bleeding, or signs of miscarriage. At as early as six weeks, a baby’s heart may be seen beating on an ultrasound. In time, an ultrasound may show if a baby is a boy or girl.
As your baby develops, ultrasounds may be taken to show his or her size and position in your uterus. The condition and location of the placenta and amount of amniotic fluid may be monitored. Ultrasound may be used to check for Down’s Syndrome or other developmental abnormalities. You may be able to see your baby move, breathe, suck his or her thumb, and even hiccup. Prior to delivery, ultrasound can confirm the position of your baby and the umbilical cord to help plan a safe birth.
The amount of ultrasounds that you receive during your pregnancy may depend on several factors. Some doctor’s perform screening ultrasounds, and some perform ultrasounds only when a problem is suspected. Women with high-risk pregnancy may undergo more ultrasounds than those with low-risk pregnancy.