Pregnancy ultrasounds, also known as prenatal ultrasounds or sonograms, are medical tests that use soundwaves to produce images of foetuses in the uterus. These can be performed throughout the three trimesters and help identify the baby, evaluate its growth, and diagnose or evaluate problems. There are many different types of pregnancy ultrasounds, and these imaging tests are helpful for several reasons. Keep on reading to learn more about pregnancy ultrasounds.
Types of Pregnancy Ultrasounds
There are many different types of prenatal ultrasounds you can have. These depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy and what is being checked for.
This is the quintessential pregnancy ultrasound and the one people most likely think of when they hear about sonograms. It consists of having your belly covered with a layer of gel and having a transducer moved across it to create an image of the foetus. While the process is painless, it may be uncomfortable because it requires the bladder to be full when it’s done.
Sometimes, a trans-abdominal ultrasound doesn’t provide a clear image. This is usually early on in the pregnancy. In this case, your doctor may perform a trans-vaginal ultrasound in which they will insert a thin transducer wand into your vagina. This is painless but can cause some pressure. Unlike trans-abdominal ultrasounds, this doesn’t require your bladder to be full.
A 3-D ultrasound takes thousands of pictures simultaneously to create a 3-D picture of the baby. Because so many pictures as used, the image is clear and can be used to check for facial abnormalities and normal organ development. 3-D ultrasounds are also sometimes used to check for uterus-related problems. This follows the same procedure as a regular ultrasound for pregnancy, but uses different probes and software.
While a 3-D ultrasound creates a clear 3-D picture of the foetus, a 4-D ultrasound creates a video. This allows you to see the foetus’ movements.
Doppler ultrasounds use transducers to measure the blood flow in various areas, including the umbilical cords and the foetus’ blood vessels. It can also be used to listen to the foetal heartbeat or to check for problems if you have Rh disease.
Why Are Prenatal Ultrasounds Performed?
There are a variety of reasons why prenatal ultrasounds are performed. The following are some of the most common ones.
Confirming the Pregnancy and Location of the Foetus
In addition to confirming the pregnancy, an ultrasound also helps determine the location of the baby. While a foetus normally develops in the uterus, sometimes it can develop in the fallopian tube. Ultrasounds alert the doctor to this.
Number of Babies, Age, and Growth
Ultrasounds help determine the possibility of multiple pregnancies and track gestational age, which determines your due date. Additionally, age helps your doctor track different milestones, and ultrasounds throughout your pregnancy are useful in tracking the baby’s growth.
Identify Complications and Birth Defects
One of the reasons ultrasounds are so important during pregnancy is because they help investigate complications and determine the cause to help treat your condition. Additionally, they can identify congenital disabilities such as Down Syndrome so you can determine how to proceed with your pregnancy or know how to prepare.
Now that you know about the different types of pregnancy ultrasounds and what they track, you can hopefully be better prepared for the experience.