Ultrasound In Pregnancy? What To Expect, Purpose & Different Types

Ultrasounds are one of the most common diagnostic tests during pregnancy. But what are they, and why are they done? In this article, I'll answer all your questions about ultrasounds.


Ultrasounds can be done at any time during pregnancy. They are one of the most common diagnostic tests during pregnancy.


The main purpose of an ultrasound is to check baby's and mother's health. standard Ultrasound can be used to check different aspects of the baby's development, such as the baby's size, age, weight, and organs.


Ultrasounds can also be used to check for any placenta or umbilical cord problems.


What is ultrasound?


An ultrasound is a noninvasive test that uses sound waves to make ultrasound images of the inside of your body. It’s also called a sonogram.

Ultrasound exams are used to check the pregnancy complications during pregnancy.


The test can be done at any time during pregnancy.


When do you get your first ultrasound?


Your first ultrasound will usually take place when you are around six to eight weeks pregnant.

This is just a quick way for your doctor or midwife to get an idea of how things are progressing and check that the pregnancy is developing as it should be.


You may also have an ultrasound at your dating scan, which happens between eight and 12 weeks.


This ultrasound will give you a more accurate idea of how far along you are and when your baby is due.


What happens during a pregnancy ultrasound?


During a pregnancy standard ultrasound, a transducer is placed on the mother’s stomach and moved around to get a clear view of the baby.


The transducer emits sound waves that bounce off the baby and are converted into images on a screen.

Fetal Ultrasound can be used to check the baby’s position & development, and the baby's blood flow using amniotic fluid and determine the due date, and look for any potential problems.


A pregnancy ultrasound is generally safe for both the mother and the baby. However, it is important to limit exposure to ultrasound during pregnancy as too much exposure could potentially cause harm.

If you have any concerns about having an ultrasound, speak with your doctor or midwife.


What is prenatal ultrasound?


A prenatal ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture of a baby in the womb. It is also sometimes called a sonogram.

Ultrasounds are painless and have no known side effects.

This test is usually done during the second trimester of pregnancy but may be done earlier in high-risk pregnancies.

The ultrasound can show the baby's heartbeat and the position of the placenta and umbilical cord.

It can also help to determine the baby's due date and check for multiple pregnancies.

Although prenatal tests are generally considered safe, it is important to discuss any potential risks with your healthcare provider before having the procedure.

How to prepare for an ultrasound during pregnancy?

Ask your doctor when you should schedule your first fetal ultrasound.

You will likely have at least one more during your pregnancy, but how many and when will depend on your circumstances.


Transvaginal ultrasound & transabdominal ultrasound

If you are having a transvaginal ultrasound, empty your bladder before the transvaginal ultrasound.

For a transabdominal fetal ultrasound, you will be asked to drink 24 to 32 ounces of water one hour before the exam transabdominal ultrasound.

This will help fill your bladder, which will push the uterus up and out of the pelvis for a better view. You may be asked to hold your urine during the exam.


Why do I need a pregnancy ultrasound?


There are many reasons why your doctor may recommend a pregnancy ultrasound.

Ultrasound waves are used to check on the health of the unborn baby and the mother. The test can be done at any time during pregnancy.


Fetal Ultrasound can be used to:

  • date a pregnancy

  • check for twins, triplets, or other multiples

  • check the position of the baby

  • evaluate the placenta

  • assess amniotic fluid levels

  • determine whether the baby is growing at a healthy rate

  • look for defects or other problems with the baby’s position and development.


Types of pregnancy ultrasounds


First-trimester ultrasound:

A first-trimester ultrasound is usually done between the fifth and seventh week of pregnancy which is the early pregnancy stage.


It can be done earlier if you are at risk for certain problems, such as a history of miscarriage.


The ultrasound scan will be done vaginally if you're early in your pregnancy or if your doctor suspects that you might have an ectopic pregnancy.


If you're further along, the fetal ultrasound will be done abdominally.



Second-trimester ultrasound:


A second-trimester ultrasound is generally a routine scan. It's done to:


  • check the baby's development

  • and assess the position of the placenta

  • screen for certain conditions, such as Down syndrome.


The ultrasound will be performed in a similar way to the first-trimester ultrasound, but the image will be of much higher quality because the baby is much bigger.


You may be asked to drink some water before the scan so that your bladder is full.


This is because a full bladder pushes the bowel out of the way, making it easier to see the baby.


Third-trimester ultrasound:


During a third-trimester ultrasound, the doctor will check the fetal growth, baby's weight, and size.


The fetal ultrasound may also be used to check for any birth defects. The test is usually done during the last few weeks of pregnancy.


The purpose of a third-trimester fetal ultrasound is to:


  • Check on the health of the baby

  • Check the size of the baby

  • Check for any defects

  • Check the position of the baby

  • Check the placenta

  • Estimate the due date


A third-trimester ultrasound is a safe and painless test. There are no risks to the mother or baby.


How long does an ultrasound take?


The length of the ultrasound will depend on how many pictures are being taken and what the purpose of the ultrasound is.


Most ultrasounds only take a few minutes, but if multiple pictures are being taken or if the ultrasound is being used for diagnostic purposes, it may take longer.


How many ultrasounds will I have during pregnancy?


The number of ultrasounds you have during pregnancy will depend on your circumstances.


The average number of ultrasounds during pregnancy is two to three.


However, Your doctor or midwife will let you know if they recommend more than one ultrasound.


Are ultrasounds safe?


Yes, ultrasounds are considered safe for both the mother and the baby. The procedure uses sound waves to create ultrasound images of the baby, so there is no radiation involved.


However, it is important to note that too many ultrasounds can be harmful. That’s why it’s important to only have them when they are medically necessary.


What to Expect at Your First Ultrasounds during pregnancy


The first ultrasound you got to know about your baby's due date is usually performed around week eight or nine of pregnancy.


This ultrasound, called a dating scan, can help determine how far along in your pregnancy you are. It can also give your healthcare provider an estimate of your baby's due date.


What Your Doctor is Looking for at Your First Ultrasound


The doctor wants to make sure the baby is developing normally inside the uterus, that the placenta is healthy and attaching properly, and that there are no obvious birth defects.


While most defects can be spotted during this ultrasound, some won't be visible until later in the pregnancy. That's why you'll have another ultrasound around 20 to 22 weeks.


Note: Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

What to Expect at a Growth Ultrasound


A growth ultrasound is usually performed during the second trimester, between 18 and 20 weeks gestation.


The ultrasound technician will apply gel to your abdomen and then move a transducer across your skin to take measurements of the baby.


The purpose of this ultrasound is to:


  • Confirm fetal viability

  • Determine gestational age

  • Assess the baby's growth

  • Look for any birth defects or abnormalities


The ultrasound technician will measure the baby's head, abdomen, and thighbone.


They will also take a close look at the baby's brain and heart to make sure they are developing normally. This ultrasound usually takes 30-60 minutes.


After the ultrasound, the technician will print out pictures of your baby for you to take home.


The doctor will also go over the results with you and answer any questions you may have.


2D, 3D, and 4D Ultrasounds


Ultrasounds are typically done in one of three ways.



There is the traditional black and white ultrasound, which is what most people think of when they hear the word ultrasound.


This kind of ultrasound uses sound waves to create a two-dimensional image of your baby on a screen.

Fetal Echocardiography(2D) -

Fetal echocardiography is a similar but special type of test to an ultrasound. In this one doctor will use sound waves to check your baby's heart is fine.


Then there are three-dimensional ultrasounds, which as the name suggests, create a three-dimensional image of your baby.


This kind of ultrasound uses special equipment and software to create the image and is often used when doctors are looking for certain birth defects or abnormalities.



Finally, there is the four-dimensional ultrasound, which is a live video of your baby in the womb.


This kind of ultrasound is usually only done for fun and isn't necessary for medical purposes.

So, now that you know a little bit more about ultrasounds, what can you expect when you have one?


First of all, it's important to remember that ultrasounds are completely safe and pose no risks to either you or your baby.


How Many Ultrasounds During Pregnancy Are Safe?


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women receive two routine ultrasounds during their pregnancy:

one during the second trimester and one near the end of the pregnancy. However, some high-risk pregnancies may require more frequent ultrasounds.


How Much Does an Ultrasound Cost?


The cost of ultrasound can vary depending on several factors.

These can include the type of ultrasound, the reason for the ultrasound, and the facility where the ultrasound is performed.

A general rule of thumb is that an ultrasound will cost between $200 and $400. However, some insurance companies will cover part or all of the cost of an ultrasound.



 So, these were some of the different types of ultrasounds that are generally performed during pregnancy.


Depending on the stage of your pregnancy, your doctor will recommend a particular type of ultrasound.


Ultrasounds are considered to be very safe for both the mother and the baby. However, if you have any concerns, make sure to discuss them with your doctor.


We hope this article has helped you understand a little more about ultrasounds and their purpose. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask us in the comments section below.

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