You'll be hopping and skipping to this doctor's appointment -- most women agree that an ultrasound is the one prenatal test they enjoy.
An ultrasound is a painless diagnostic test that relies on sound waves, and most women will have at least one during pregnancy. Your first ultrasound will typically be done between 18 and 20 weeks, but you may have one before 12 weeks to confirm your due date.
You may also have an earlier ultrasound -- or more than one -- if yours is a high-risk pregnancy, if you have any pain or bleeding, if you have a history of having children with birth defects, or if another prenatal test or exam shows something abnormal.
In addition, you'll have additional ultrasounds if you have a chronic illness such as diabetes or a history of ovarian cysts or fibroids. An ultrasound usually can be done in your practitioner's office or your local hospital. You will be asked to lie on your back while a technician rubs a warm gel on your belly. The gel allows the transducer a handheld device that looks like a microphone to slide more easily over your belly and improves the transmission of sound waves into your body. The sound waves bounce off various surfaces within your body -- including your baby -- as vibrations.
The echoes are translated into electrical signals that are projected as pictures onto a monitor for viewing. If you have had bleeding during your pregnancy or you have had previous miscarriages , your doctor or midwife may recommend an early dating scan from 6 to 10 weeks gestation. If you choose to have a dating scan, it will most probably be your first scan.
Women's Health Care Physicians
You will need to get a referral from your doctor or midwife for a dating scan. A dating scan is carried out by ultrasound. A sonographer, who is usually a radiographer or a midwife trained in ultrasound, will complete your scan. If the scan is after 10 weeks, ultrasound recordings are usually made through your abdomen. The sonographer will put gel on your abdomen and move a hand-held device called a transducer, back and forward over your skin.
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In some situations, such as when the scan is completed before 10 weeks of gestation or you are overweight, you may also need a vaginal scan. Your sonographer will let you know if this is needed. For an abdominal dating ultrasound, you will need to have a full bladder.
How is a dating scan performed?
You may be asked to drink some water and not go to the toilet beforehand because a full bladder helps to push your womb up to give a better picture. For a vaginal scan, you can have an empty bladder. This will provide a fairly accurate estimate of how many weeks pregnant you are. But it is important to remember that only a few women go into labour on their due date, so it can be more helpful to think about the month in which you are expecting your baby, rather than the exact day. Information on pregnancy ultrasound scans including when they are taken, what it can be used for, dating scans, anomaly scans, plus links to trusted resources.
This Dads Guide to Pregnancy article covers early pregnancy scans and screening, plus normal fetal development and early miscarriage for men, by men. In the second trimester of pregnancy, you may be offered to have an morphology scan anomaly scan. Learn about what it looks for and when it is performed.
First Trimester / Dating Ultrasound | Advanced Women's Imaging
Your ultrasound is always performed in the context of your clinical history and the results of previous ultrasounds and investigations. Before 5 weeks gestation, the developing pregnancy is too small to detect on ultrasound. The endometrium the lining of the uterus where the pregnancy will grow should appear thick and secretory.
One of the ovaries will have an ovulation cyst called a haemorrhagic corpus luteum. This ovarian cyst is a normal part of getting pregnant, as the egg forming your baby was released from this cyst. The corpus luteum will gradually resolve get smaller as the pregnancy continues. At weeks gestation, a small gestation pregnancy sac is seen within the uterus. A transvaginal ultrasound is usually required to see the baby at this stage of the pregnancy. Your baby is just a tiny embryo. The yolk sac is the other structure that is usually identified at this early stage.
The yolk sac lies within the gestation sac and looks like a little round circle inside the pregnancy sac. Seeing a yolk sac helps the doctor confirm the presence of a developing pregnancy within the uterus, even before the embryo is seen. This is useful if there are concerns that your pregnancy may not be correctly located in the uterus an ectopic pregnancy. At weeks gestation, your baby is growing bigger and now measures mm long. From now until the end of the first trimester, the embryo will be measured from one end to the other, called the crown-rump-length or CRL. At weeks gestation, your baby continues to change appearance as it grows and develops.
By 8 weeks gestation, your baby can usually be seen with transabdominal ultrasound. By weeks gestation, the embryo is clearly recognisable as a baby with a body, head, arms and legs, as well as many other identifiable features. Your baby may be moving around the pregnancy sac.
Methods for Estimating the Due Date
Many parents are amazed at the detail that can be seen even at this early stage of the pregnancy. First trimester ultrasound is performed in the first months of a pregnancy. Pregnancy ultrasounds are performed mainly using transabdominal ultrasound. Not all women need to have an ultrasound in this early part of the pregnancy.
Your doctor may request this ultrasound for a number of reasons, including: You may have gone to your doctor with vaginal bleeding or you may be anxious because of problems in a previous pregnancy such as miscarriage. This ultrasound can routinely detect a heartbeat in your baby as early as weeks. Confirming the correct dates of your pregnancy. Some women are uncertain of their last menstrual period LMP or have irregular menstrual cycles, making it difficult for their doctor to correctly estimate when the baby is due.
Establishing accurate dates can be important, especially if there are concerns about your baby later in the pregnancy for example, if the baby is not growing well.
An ultrasound in the first trimester can give an accurate estimated date of confinement EDC to within days. Confirming the location of your pregnancy.