Ultrasounds are a standard part of every pregnancy, as they allow doctors to monitor both the mother-to-be and the growing fetus.
A healthy pregnancy should include two ultrasounds, one in the first trimester, and one mid-way through the second.
Each pregnancy is unique and may require additional ultrasounds depending on your age, weight, and medical history.
Here are some things you should know about how to schedule an ultrasound and what to expect during your appointment.
An ultrasound works by sending and detecting sound waves. A transducer is a device used by an OB-GYN to transmit sound waves through the skin and into the womb. The sound waves bounce off of the fetus and create an image in the womb.
Although taking pictures of the ultrasound is a milestone for many parents it is not a permanent record. This time is used by doctors to examine the baby’s development and detect any genetic abnormalities.
Although ultrasounds are generally safe during pregnancy, it is important to consult your doctor about how many you should plan for.
“Ultrasound does not use radiation and is safe for the developing baby and mother at the frequencies used to diagnose imaging,” Dr. Stephen Chasen, director, obstetric imaging at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, says.
You will only need one ultrasound if you are healthy during pregnancy. The first ultrasound is scheduled late in the first trimester around the 11-14-week mark. The second ultrasound is scheduled for 18 to 20 weeks if there are no major complications.
What can you expect from your first-trimester ultrasound
Most women have their first ultrasound around 11-14 weeks after their due date. This examination also called a “dating ultrasound”, is used to evaluate the gestational age of the patient and identify any abnormalities early in pregnancy.
You can expect your doctor to perform an early ultrasound.
- Confirm pregnancy by checking the heartbeat of the fetus.
- Set a due date: Doctors can measure the fetus to determine the gestational date or the length of the pregnancy.
- Count the babies. If there is more than one, the doctor should see them all.
- A doctor can check if the pregnancy is growing as it should. A fertilized egg attached outside of the uterus is an ectopic pregnancy.
- Screening for genetic orders: This exam usually includes a nuchal translucency screen, which is used in order to rule out Down Syndrome or other physical defects of the heart muscle.
What can you expect from the second trimester of ultrasound
Around 18 to 20 weeks is the time for the second ultrasound. The second-trimester ultrasound, also known as the “anatomy scanner”, is used to assess the baby’s growth and placenta position. Chasen says that “fetal genitalia” can be imaged for those who are eager to plan or choose names.
The doctor will perform the second ultrasound.
- Examine the fetus’ anatomy: A doctor can then detect abnormalities in structures such as the spine, brain, kidneys, brain and limbs.
- Find out the biological sex. If you are unsure, let your doctor know.
- The placenta’s position: A low-lying or Previa placenta (or placenta) is one that covers the cervix. This can prevent the fetus from passing through the birth canal. Your obstetrician may recommend at least one more ultrasound in this situation to determine if the placenta is reorienting and clearing the way. If the placenta doesn’t reorient and clear, it will need to be delivered by a Cesarean. Other ultrasounds may be required
Although two standard ultrasounds are routine, expectant parents may require more.
Sometimes, patients may get their first ultrasound before 11 weeks. An ultrasound taken after six weeks can show the beginning of intrauterine pregnancies. Therefore, an ultrasound taken after six weeks is usually reliable to determine how far along a patient is. An ultrasound will still be required if you have an earlier ultrasound.
Chasen says that if there are any complications or abnormalities detected during routine ultrasounds (e.g., the position of your placenta), you may need to have more.
Additional ultrasounds may be required if your baby is at high risk for birth defects, or is very underweight or overweight before you reach term. These factors can increase your baby’s risk of developing birth defects:
- It can increase the risk of birth defects in babies if you smoke, drink alcohol, or have a history of birth defect family members.
- Your baby’s chances of becoming underweight can be increased by having asthma, low weight gain, high blood pressure, and/or excessive exercise.
- It can make your baby more likely to be overweight if you are overweight or have gestational diabetes.
Weekly ultrasounds are recommended for high-risk pregnant women, usually because of their weight, age or other medical conditions. These quick ultrasounds can be used to check the amniotic fluid levels and monitor fetal movement in these high-risk patients.
What does an Ultrasound cost?
Although ultrasound can cost you several hundred dollars to more than one thousand dollars, it is not necessary to pay that much.
If the scan is deemed medically necessary, most or all of the cost of ultrasonography will be covered by your insurance. The cost of the tidlig scanning aalborg may be covered by your insurance, but it depends on which plan you have.
It also depends on the location and region where you have your ultrasound. An ultrasound at a hospital can cost over $1,000. You can also visit your local Planned Parenthood Health Center for low-cost ultrasounds, regardless of whether or not you have insurance.
Most women will have at least one ultrasound during pregnancy, in the first and second trimesters. However, there are many reasons your doctor might recommend more.
Ultrasound exams are essential for monitoring your baby’s development. It is normal to feel anxious about the possibility of additional screenings beyond routine checks. Ask your healthcare provider any questions and for any resources regarding any unforeseen problems that might arise.