Ultrasound is defined as the use of ultrasonic frequency to produce medical images. During pregnancy, ultrasound is used to see the development of the baby in the womb. Ultrasound is usually ordered by the doctor around 18 to 20 weeks of gestation. Although, it can still be performed during the different stages of pregnancy for a number of reasons.
If the ultrasound is done before 14 weeks of gestation, it is used to detect if the fetus is alive and if it is a multiple pregnancy. If done around 18 weeks, more details about the fetus can be seen. By this time, the doctor will be able to know if the fetus is developing properly. If it is done 30 weeks and up, it is still used to determine fetal growth. Some pregnant women may fear the ultrasound process. According to experts, there is nothing to fear. There are no scientific reports to prove that it is dangerous to undergo ultrasound. Although, no matter how detailed it is, it can still not guarantee a healthy baby.
As a summary, some of the reasons for ordering an ultrasound include the following:
- To confirm a normal pregnancy
- To have an estimate of the age of the fetus
- To identify maternal problems
- To identify developmental problems
- To determine possible pregnancy complications
As a general rule, a full bladder is needed in order to take a good image, but this is not necessary for pregnancies which are near the due date. During the process, the pregnant woman will be asked to lie down. A water-based gel and hand-held probe will be used in order to get the picture of the fetus. In some cases, a vaginal probe may be used.
Over-all ultrasound is a helpful and safe procedure. There have been some reports of increased chances of miscarriage and pre-term labor, but no supporting studies have been made about it. If the process is done by an experienced health care professional, it can be a helpful tool during pregnancy. It is best to ask the health care provider if the procedure is not very clear.