Ultrasound options

Over the next couple of days, I’m going to write about ultrasound.  There are different types that are used for different purposes and I’ll review them.

Ultrasonography is the most commonly used tool for viewing a developing fetus. Ultrasound has been safely utilized for over 40 years, but only specially trained technicians and providers should perform an ultrasound, and only for medically necessary reasons.

Using sound waves to bounce off curves and shapes within your body, technicians are able to translate light and dark patterns into images of internal organs or a developing fetus. Standard ultrasound creates a 2-D image of a developing baby in mom’s womb. A woman may have a standard ultrasound during the first trimester to confirm and date the pregnancy (or to find out if she’s having twins like her mother did!)  But not all providers offer it that early in pregnancy, so don’t be upset if yours doesn’t. It also can be used to check the positioning of the placenta or level of amniotic fluid later on.

Most providers request an ultrasound between 18 and 20 weeks. The procedure lasts about 20 minutes and can be performed abdominally (by moving a transducer over the belly) or vaginally (using a slender wand-like device that is placed inside the vagina). A full bladder acts like a mirror and helps the technician get a clearer view, hence the recommendation of drinking a few glasses of water before the procedure.  This is great for the tech, but might get slightly squirmy for mom after a while.

Tomorrow’s post – What’s Doppler imaging (nope, not part of the weather report) and fetal echocardiography?

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