What Are Obstetric Ultrasounds Used For?

Ultrasound is painless and completely safe because no radiation is used. The procedure involves the use of a small probe (called a transducer) and a conductive Gel which is applied directly to the skin. The probe is moved back and forth across the abdomen to release high-frequency sound waves into the body. The probe collects the sound waves that bounce back from the abdomen and uses them to create images in real-time.

Although the ultrasound technique can be used to diagnose and treat many medical conditions, it is most commonly associated with pregnancy. Because obstetrical ultrasounds are used to confirm pregnancy. An ultrasound scan is more reliable than a urine-based pregnancy test, or even a blood test. As your obstetrician uses ultrasound scans to monitor your pregnancy’s progress, they will be a regular occurrence.

Ultrasounds of the Obstetrical Unit in the First Trimester

Your obstetrician may request multiple ultrasounds during the first trimester. They can also check the heartbeat of your baby and examine your uterus to ensure that everything is in order. The ultrasound can also be used to determine the gestational date of your baby.

The first trimester may be a good time to have a nuchal translucency ultrasound. This can be used to determine if your baby may have one of the many serious genetic conditions. This test is typically done between weeks 11-13 of your pregnancy.

Ultrasounds for Obstetrics in the Second Trimester

Most patients receive an ultrasound in their second trimester. The ultrasound allows for the taking of various measurements and an examination of your baby’s body to allow your obstetrician to see how they are developing and growing. The ultrasound will also examine the position of the placenta, umbilical cord, amniotic liquid, and other structures. As a souvenir, you will be given photographs of your baby. You can find out the gender of your baby as soon as you are 16 weeks old, but sometimes it is earlier. A separate appointment for an ultrasound can be made if you are only interested in finding out the gender.

How can you prepare for an obstetrical ultrasound?

There is very little preparation needed for trans-abdominal and transvaginal ultrasounds. For obstetric ultrasounds after 18 weeks, doctors recommend that patients bring a full bladder. A transvaginal ultrasound will require that the patient void their bladder and urinate before they can begin. This will reduce discomfort and allow for better visualization of the pelvic organs. Ultrasound transducers cannot be thrown away. It is best to see a facility that has proper hygiene protocols. Transducers must be cleaned after each use to prevent infection. The trans-abdominal ultrasound transmitters are usually cleaned using disposable antiseptic wipes. The transducer can be applied directly to the patient’s skin. The transvaginal ultrasound transducers are typically covered with a disposable cover. The patient can return to their normal activities immediately after the ultrasound.

Ultrasounds Later In Pregnancy

Each pregnancy is unique and requires regular monitoring up to labor. These ultrasounds are used to check the health and growth of your baby. If your baby appears to be unusually large, or if you are unsure of your due date, your obstetrician may want to check their size to determine if labor should be induced or if the baby delivered earlier. While most pregnancies last around 40 weeks, some babies and their mothers prefer to have the baby delivered earlier.