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What is a pregnancy ultrasound?
A pregnancy ultrasound is a medical procedure which uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your body.
The ultrasound is a very common practice during pregnancy, it allows knowing the development of the fetus and checks if there may be any issues. However, the accuracy to detect problems is not 100% reliable.
If you are expecting a child keep reading to know why you should do ultrasound scans during pregnancy and other accurate options available.
How does it work the pregnancy dating scan?
The pregnancy ultrasound, also known as sonography send sound waves (which we cannot be heard) emitted by a transducer.
The waves produce echoes which define the organs and other structures in the body through their shapes, size and consistency.
These are recorded by the transducer and shown on a computer screen in real-time. Ultrasounds in pregnancy are common but fetal imaging is not the only purpose of such a process.
Why is done an ultrasound during pregnancy?
The scan ultrasound during pregnancy is a practice done primarily to confirm if you are pregnant but is also done to confirm the sex of the baby or any anomalies or to estimate your due date (also called Dating Scan)
In this table you can see what a pregnancy ultrasound can detect:
|Confirm pregnancy||from week 8|
|Fetal heartbeat||up to week 12|
|Diagnose an ectopic pregnancy||up to week 12|
|Estimated due date||up to week 12|
|Determine the sex of the baby||up to week 24|
|Size of the baby and how it grows||from week 12|
|Diagnose physical conditions||from week 12|
|Location of the placenta||from week 12|
|Helps to detect Down syndrome||from week 14|
Pregnancy ultrasound for the most common baby gender prediction
Most probably you have seen many films of pregnant women doing a pregnancy ultrasound to determine the baby gender.
This type of scan is one of the most common to know if you are expecting a boy or a girl, however depending on the position of the fetus the obstetrician will not be able to see the sex of your baby.
If you have the need to know the sex of your future child there are in the market accurate, reliable and free of risk test that will detect the gender
Diagnose physical conditions with the pregnancy ultrasound
The ultrasound carried during pregnancy helps to determine if your future baby may have some physical conditions such as Down’s syndrome.
However, the ultrasound by itself it won’t confirm requires a nuchal translucency NT and you must wait at least until week 8 to 21.
What other options do you have?
If you don’t want to wait so long and prefer to have accurate and reliable results about any genetic abnormality of your child, there are DNA tests which will confirm that.
This test will not only detect the Down syndrome but also Turner’s syndrome and more. Click in the next link to see the full table of Chromosomal Abnormalities detected.
Will the pregnancy ultrasound harm the baby?
Ultrasound scans in pregnancy are not dangerous, neither you nor your baby will be at any risk.
However, there are some factors to consider before doing an ultrasound during pregnancy.
Depending on the information provided by the ultrasound, your obstetrician or gynaecologist may suggest taking a test which is not free of risk. For instance like the amniocentesis.
If you don’t want to be at any risk you or your baby click on the below list to see our full list of test available during pregnancy:
How long does it take the pregnancy scan?
The whole process of the pregnancy ultrasound will take about 30 minutes, sometimes even less. The gynaecologist will spread a gel in your abdomen and the image will be displayed.
This scan depends on the position of the fetus, sometimes the position does not allow the gynaecologist to have a good view.
Also, the image may not be of good quality if your body tissue is very dense.
Types of ultrasounds during pregnancy
There are different types of pregnancy ultrasound that you should be aware of:
1 – Obstetric ultrasound
This the most standard ultrasound and the most known procedure. It is painless and you will need to lay down.
A water-soluble gel will then applied in your abdomen and the sonographer will be gently pressed.
2 – Transvaginal ultrasound
This ultrasound is carried mainly to examine your reproductive organs and during pregnancy, it will examine if you have an ectopic pregnancy.
You will need to empty your bladder before the exam.
Once in the room, you lay down, l facing up for the transducer to be inserted. The procedure is not harmful and the specialist will cover with a new protector the transducer and add lubrication so it can be easily inserted in your vagina.
3 – 3D or 4D ultrasounds
3D ultrasounds are the most popular pregnancy ultrasound, the image is displayed in 3D.
4D ultrasound is more advance, meaning that the image is shown as a film