What Is a Pregnancy Ultrasound?
One of the most common uses for an ultrasound is during pregnancy to identify the sex and health of the developing fetus. The procedure is similar to standard ultrasounds, except that the specific organ we’re examining is the uterus. There are generally two instances when getting an ultrasound during pregnancy, in the first and third trimester. However, pending complications and doctor’s instructions a vaginal ultrasound can be performed as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy.
During the first trimester scan we’re looking for the fetus’s heartbeat, checking for twins and measuring the fetus’s development to anticipate a delivery date. During the third trimester ultrasound more organs are starting to become visible and we’re looking at the baby’s sex and checking for healthy growth.
There are 2 common types of ultrasounds used during pregnancy:
Transvaginal Ultrasound – This is an internal exam. An ultrasound probe is placed inside the vagina, this allows it to create clearer images of the pelvic area. This scan can be performed early on in the pregnancy and is used to identify pregnancy complications. It can last between 30 – 60 minutes. This is a very low risk exam, but you may feel some minor discomfort during the procedure.
Abdominal Ultrasound – Conductive ultrasound gel will be spread on your lower abdomen to help decrease static in the sonogram image. An ultrasound probe will be used to see through the gel into your uterus and and live image will be shown on the screen. An abdominal ultrasound can take around 30 minutes.
Q: How many ultrasounds during pregnancy are recommended?
A: Generally there are two ultrasounds during pregnancy, however a doctor may recommend more for a higher risk pregnancy. It is not suggested to get ultrasounds recreationally, since long term effects of frequent ultrasounds have not been studied.
Q: When is the first ultrasound / sonography during pregnancy?
A: A transvaginal ultrasound can be performed early on before the 6 week mark, it’s generally used for special circumstances recommended by your doctor. However, a regular abdominal ultrasound is performed around the 8 – 12 week mark.
Ultrasound is available at the following offices located around New Mexico. Please visit Alamogordo Imaging Center, Breast Imaging Center, El Camino Imaging Center, Northwest Imaging Center, X-Ray Associates at Farmington and X-Ray Associates at Santa Fe.