Understanding Your Obstetric Ultrasound
You want to make sure your baby grows as he or she should. An obstetric ultrasound produces an image of your baby in your uterus. Ultrasound, also called sonography, uses high-frequency sound waves sent into your body from a scanning instrument placed on your skin. The sound waves, reflected off bones and tissues, are analyzed by a computer, and result in an image.
Why do you need an obstetric ultrasound? Your physician may order an ultrasound for a variety of reasons, such as to:
- Determine when your baby’s due
- Make sure your baby grows at the appropriate rate
- Observe your baby’s position in your womb
- Measure the amount of fluid around your baby
- Detect certain birth defects
- Measure your cervical length
How well can you see your baby? Many factors determine how well you can see your baby. Depending on your baby’s age and position in your uterus and how well your body transmits sound waves, you may be able to see his or her heartbeat and limb and body movements. You may also see your baby’s gender. If your baby is lying in a good position, you can get a 3D image at facilities where we offer 3D ultrasounds.
Are there other obstetric ultrasound types? In addition to a standard ultrasound, your doctor may request a Doppler ultrasound, which evaluates organ and fetal vessel blood flow. In some cases, a vaginal ultrasound may also be needed to provide more information.
How long does it last? A typical ultrasound takes between 30 and 60 minutes. A detailed examination report is always sent to your obstetric care provider afterwards.
How can you prepare for your obstetric ultrasound? You don’t need to make any specific preparations, though you may want to wear loose fitting clothes that can be washed since a gel-like material is used on your abdomen.
Who can come with you to your ultrasound appointment? Some offices limit the number of people who can come to your appointment. However, in most offices, one adult is welcome to watch your ultrasound with you in the beginning of your pregnancy. When the ultrasound is close to completion, other adults and children can also join you in the room.
Do ultrasounds have harmful effects? No. The medical use of an obstetric ultrasound is a safe method of detection and observation.