We’ve all probably seen the fuzzy black and white photos that pregnant couples get when they’re expecting. Those keepsake photos are called sonograms. They are created when a pregnant mother gets an ultrasound from her doctor.
Ultrasounds are commonly used to help monitor the health of your fetus during pregnancy and detect any abnormalities. But what is an ultrasound exactly? And how many ultrasounds do you need throughout the course of your pregnancy? Do you get one at every pregnancy check-up or only at certain follow-up visits?
Keep reading to learn more about ultrasounds and how many ultrasounds you should have during pregnancy.
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a type of body scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the body’s internal organs and of a developing baby. Ultrasounds are used during pregnancies to capture an image of the fetus inside the mother’s womb. They are a routine part of prenatal care.
Since the human eye cannot see inside the womb, ultrasounds are essential to monitoring the health and development of the fetus. They can help assign your due date, determine your baby’s gestational age, identify any health problems or birth defects, monitor fetal health and development, and identify the sex of the baby.
You may have heard the terms “ultrasound” and “sonogram” used interchangeably before. What is the difference? Ultrasound refers to the procedure where the doctor performs the body scan, whereas sonogram refers to the printed picture that results from the procedure.
Are ultrasounds safe for pregnant women?
Ultrasounds are commonly used during pregnancies. They have been determined to be very safe for pregnant women and the fetus.
Ultrasounds are very safe to have because they utilize sound waves to generate the sonogram image. They do not use radiation or X-rays. Ultrasounds are so safe that they do not require any special preparation or personal protective equipment before use.
How many ultrasounds are necessary during pregnancy?
While ultrasounds are completely safe for the mother and fetus, there is no medical reason to have more ultrasounds than necessary.
In general practice, it is expected that pregnant women receive a minimum of two standard ultrasounds throughout their pregnancy.
The first ultrasound is typically given in the first trimester to confirm the baby’s heartbeat, verify that the pregnancy is in the uterus and is not an ectopic pregnancy, and to predict the baby’s due date. A doctor may use a pregnancy ultrasound in combination with a pregnancy test to confirm a viable pregnancy.
The second pregnancy ultrasound is typically given in the second trimester, between 18 and 22 weeks, to monitor the fetus’ growth, assess the position of the umbilical cord and the placenta, do an anatomy scan, count the baby’s fingers and toes, and determine the sex of the baby.
If you have medical concerns or you have a high-risk pregnancy that requires more frequent monitoring, then you can expect to have additional ultrasounds during your pregnancy.
Therefore, different women may receive different numbers of ultrasounds throughout their pregnancy journey. There is no exact number that is right for everyone’s medical needs.
What are the types of ultrasound?
There are several types of ultrasounds that are used for different purposes and at different times during pregnancy. All of these types of ultrasound scans are safe for pregnant women and are used to monitor your baby’s growth and health.
A transvaginal ultrasound is an ultrasound that is performed through the vagina. A small wand, or transducer, is placed in the vagina up to the cervix and uses ultrasound technology to create an image of the inside of the uterus. A transvaginal ultrasound is often used for the first early ultrasound.
A pregnancy ultrasound done later in the second trimester is often performed with an exterior transducer placed on the outside of the pregnant woman’s belly. This is the ultrasound that most of us probably think of when we think of pregnancy ultrasounds.
A nuchal translucency (NT) ultrasound is an optional ultrasound given around 10-13 weeks. This optional ultrasound can be used to identify congenital disabilities and down syndrome. A mother may choose to have this ultrasound to alleviate any concerns she may have about the baby’s health. A doctor may recommend this ultrasound if there is a family history of congenital disabilities.
Who performs an ultrasound during pregnancy?
Obstetricians or ob/GYNs typically perform ultrasounds for pregnant women. Some obstetrics providers may also have an ultrasound technician on staff to assist with the procedure. All procedures should be performed by a trained medical doctor.
Visit your Ob/GYN for an ultrasound today
Are you pregnant or planning to be pregnant? Then you are in need of obstetrics services!
At Great City Medical, our board-certified ob/GYN Dr. Yelena Tsyba provides top-quality ultrasound exams and ob/GYN services to pregnant women in NYC. If you think you might be pregnant, Dr. Tsyba can provide your first-trimester ultrasound so you can monitor your baby’s development during early pregnancy and beyond. And get images of your baby to keep as a beautiful keepsake!
Call our offices to make your appointment for an NYC ultrasound today!