If you’re expecting a baby, you can most certainly expect an ultrasound. Sure, the word “ultrasound” sounds complicated, but it’s not. In fact, it is simply making use of sound waves to produce pictures of the baby on a screen or monitor. Because this involves bouncing the sound waves off of internal objects to produce an image, it is considered safe for mother-to-be and baby and can help ensure baby is healthy and mom side-steps common pregnancy complications, by aiding in diagnosis and treatment of a variety of medical conditions, making pregnancy ultrasound a true must-have.
NHS offers at least two ultrasound scans during pregnancy but you can also opt for a private ultrasound in London.
The pregnancy ultrasound scan generally takes less than 20 minutes and is performed at different times during the pregnancy. It is expected that a fetal ultrasound will be performed in the first trimester of pregnancy called early pregnancy scan, in the second trimester and the third.
A healthcare provider may perform the foetal ultrasound at different times, but many perform ultrasounds at eight to 12 weeks of pregnancy to determine the actual due date by viewing the fetus and its size; at 10-13 weeks to check the development of the brain and spinal cord; at 16-20 weeks to check baby’s size, growth and likelihood of birth defects; and in the last trimester to check the amount of amniotic fluid and the baby’s overall well-being and development.
A general baby ultrasound produces a 2D (a two-dimensional still view) image of the fetus. Oftentimes, a healthcare provider will perform a 3D (a 3-dimensional still view) ultrasound, which is considered a level II exam, to take a more detailed look at the fetus. A moving view of the 3D technology is called a 4D ultrasound.
Ultrasounds are performed by a healthcare specialist called sonographer who applies a handheld device called a transducer across the pregnant woman’s abdomen. This scan is called transabdominal ultrasound.
It may also be performed as transvaginal ultrasound, or by inserting the hand-held transducer into the pregnant woman’s vagina. This is not painful, but the pregnant woman will experience slight pressure.
In short, ultrasonography is an important tool for any pregnant woman and her baby, so make sure you discuss this with your healthcare provider.