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What To Expect During Your Ultrasound

When you are pregnant, your ultrasound appointments might be one of the highlights of your nine months. Getting to see that little person and watching as the heart beats and possibly finding out which gender your child will be is all a lot of fun. Of course, the ultrasound is also a diagnostic tool and doctors use it to identify potential issues so you also might be a bit nervous, as well.

Sometimes in early pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound is performed. Often this is simply to help the doctor determine your due date more accurately, and sometimes it is given to women who have had a previous miscarriage. If your pregnancy is considered to be at high risk for any reason, then your doctor probably will perform this type of ultrasound in the first weeks following your positive pregnancy test. This test is rarely more than mildly uncomfortable and takes just a few minutes to perform in most cases.

Later on in pregnancy as you move into your second trimester, a standard ultrasound will be performed. The technician will place water-based gel on your belly and move a probe over your skin. Prior to the ultrasound, women typically are asked to drink several glasses of water about an hour before the test. The coolness of the gel and the uncomfortable feeling of a full bladder should be the only uncomfortable aspects of the ultrasound exam.

In general, the doctor uses the results of the ultrasound to monitor the fetal growth and development. The doctor also will check the placenta and amniotic fluid to ensure that everything appears to be progressing normally during your pregnancy. The doctor also can look inside the chambers of the baby’s heart to check for any possible defects and often can tell the gender as early as 15 weeks, although sometimes you can determine the gender earlier.

For most normal pregnancies, you might have two ultrasound appointments. If you are carrying multiples or you or the fetus are at higher risk for various conditions, you probably will have a few more ultrasounds, and these also probably will the completed using an advanced ultrasound, which provides higher quality images. The ultrasound does not transmit radiation to the fetus or the mother and is considered a safe, low-risk procedure.

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