You’re pregnant. The ultrasound is scheduled. But what do all of those pregnancy ultrasounds mean? This article will help define and break down what ultrasounds you’ll need when, and what doctors are looking for:
First Trimester Ultrasounds
Your first ultrasound will take place in the first trimester, sometime around week six to eight. This ultrasound will measure the baby and determine size and length. It also helps to narrow down or confirm the delivery date based on the measurements the doctor receives from the ultrasound. At this time, the ultrasound will probably be done trans vaginally since the uterus is very close to the birth canal. As the baby continues to grow, the uterus will move upwards and will become the pregnancy belly you are used to seeing.
At this time, the heart also starts to beat and can often be seen on ultrasound. However, sometimes you may have to wait a few more weeks before you can hear the heartbeat. Your baby is growing at a rate of 1 millimeter per day.
Another ultrasound should be performed at weeks ten to thirteen. This ultrasound will be very different and looks for a lot of different factors. This ultrasound will be done transabdominally since the baby is now big enough to view. The doctor will look at the thickness of the baby’s neck–anything more than 3 mm could signify a problem with the baby. This is also the time in your pregnancy that your doctor will test for things like Down Syndrome. During this time, a strong heartbeat should be able to be detected, and the rate of miscarriage drops significantly.
Second Trimester Ultrasound
Around sixteen to twenty weeks is probably the ultrasound that you’ve been waiting for. Is it a boy….or a girl? Although it’s not the only reason that you get an ultrasound at this point and time in your pregnancy, it is one of the most exciting. Now baby looks like a real person, and you can see some of their behaviors and mannerisms. Will your baby have the hiccups? Is it shy? Is it sucking it’s thumb?
While you anxiously watch this little person inside you, your doctor is doing a complete check of it’s anatomy, making sure their are no defects in the heart, lungs, or other vital organs. Your doctor will also look to make sure that the placenta is attached correctly, and isn’t covering the cervix.
Third Trimester Ultrasound
A third trimester ultrasound usually isn’t routine, but some doctors will order it around week twenty-nine to week thirty-two to determine fetal growth. If you are a high risk pregnancy, you may have ultrasounds done into the third trimester. Doctors may also check for low levels of amniotic fluid. If the placenta was found to cover the cervix (a condition called placenta previa) they may do another ultrasound to see if a Cesarean section may be necessary.
“Obstetric Ultrasound Scans” http://www.ob-ultrasound.net/