A guide to ultrasounds during your pregnancy
Ultrasound imaging Atlanta
By Melissa Willets
Congratulations! You're pregnant! Wondering what's going on inside your belly? While you've probably seen a pregnant woman get an ultrasound on reality television or in the movies, you may not know what to expect from your own health care provider. While the standard of care can vary by doctor, here are the basic facts about the scans that will clue you in to what is going on with your growing baby.
Your first scan. Your very first peek at what your baby is doing inside your belly will probably take place when you are about eight weeks along. But don't expect to see little toes and fingers just yet. Your baby will look like a tiny, flickering blip on a screen at this point.
How? This ultrasound is performed transvaginally. You'll have to wait on getting that cold, sticky goo spread all over your belly. Instead, for the first scan your Atlanta OBGYN will insert a probe inside of you, but don't worry. It isn't as bad as it sounds, and besides, something a lot bigger is coming out of there in about seven months!
Why? The first sonogram tests for the viability of the pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this test also estimates the gestational age of your blip and confirms a heartbeat. Seeing the baby's heartbeat for the first time is an amazing moment that you will probably always remember! For that reason, consider asking your partner to join you for this special visit.
Second trimester scan. By around 18 weeks, your baby bump is burgeoning, and it's clear to passersby that you are expecting and not just bloated from a big pizza lunch. You're probably very curious about what your baby is up to, and you may even want to know if you should start buying blue or pink clothes. Well, get ready for the cold goop because you are about to find out!
How? The second trimester sonogram will look like it does in the movies. Your OBGYN or an ultrasound technician will have you pull up your shirt and he or she will dispense some chilly goo on your stomach, then slide a probe over the goo. If you're lucky, the goo might be warmed. Either way, the sensation is a little bizarre but completely non-invasive.
Why? This scan will produce the first images of what looks like a real baby living inside your uterus! The doctor or technician is checking to make sure your baby is growing normally and that anatomically, everything is okay. It's normal to feel anxious about this sonogram, especially if you plan to find out the sex of the baby. Assuming that baby cooperates (some like to cross their legs in defiance), you and your partner can go home knowing if you're having a boy or a girl after this visit.
Last scan. Many doctors like to do another sonogram close to the baby's due date. This may be your last chance to see your baby until he or she makes an official entrance into the world!
How? This sonogram will be like your second trimester scan, except your tummy will be a lot bigger and so will your baby. Your doctor or the technician will make sure that you are comfortable during the test, or as comfortable as a pregnant woman in her third trimester can be.
Why? This sonogram is performed to estimate how big your baby will be at birth and make sure he or she is in the right position for the delivery. Your doctor is also checking to make sure your amniotic fluid level is sufficient.
3-D and 4-D ultrasounds. You can also elect to get a more detailed picture of what your baby looks like in utero. A 3-D or even a 4-D scan can be performed to generate more detailed images of your baby's face and other anatomy.
How? These scans are performed just like a normal sonogram, but you'll be amazed at how clearly you can make out your baby's facial features. Most likely you will go to a special imaging center. Be aware that these precious images can also be costly.
Why? Most of the time parents-to-be elect to have this intimate look at their growing baby. But sometimes a more detailed scan is medically indicated.
Medically indicated scans. Sometimes additional sonograms may be needed if your OBGYN suspects there could be a problem with your pregnancy. This could happen at any point during the baby's gestation. Try not to panic if your health care provider recommends an additional scan. This does not necessarily mean your baby is in danger, just that more information is needed to best care for you and your baby.
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