What to Expect During the First Ultrasound

We regularly talk about pregnancy on The Rose Diaries but what should you expect during your ultrasound, especially if it is your first pregnancy? We are therefore delighted to be able to share this guest post with you.

Finding out you are pregnant is a thrilling and joyous time. But knowing that a small life is beginning to grow inside of you can also leave you feeling overwhelmed with questions and concerns. Is the fetus implanted correctly? When is the baby due? Will there be complications?

In the past, practitioners only recommended first trimester ultrasounds to women who used fertility treatments, had a history of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, or women with a medical history that could affect her health or the health of the growing baby.

Today, first trimester ultrasounds are more common and it is for good reason. While the image on the screen may not reveal a detailed image of your baby, your practitioner will be able to quickly gather vital information to ensure a healthy and full term pregnancy for you and your little one.

Before I get ahead of myself, I want to take a moment to discuss what ultrasound is and how it works. You’ve most likely heard the term before. Perhaps you have even seen ultrasound images. But how can internal images be produced from outside of the body?

Ultrasound images are captured through the use of sound waves. In the field of diagnostic imaging, a hand-held device called a transducer transmits sound waves through the body’s outer surface. These sound waves travel until they reach solid tissue. The sound waves are then bounced back as echoes and interpreted by a machine into the images you see on the screen. It is important to note here, the less distance the sound waves have to travel, the clearer the images become. So what can you expect from this type of imaging?

When you go in for your first ultrasound—generally between 6 to 9 weeks—your doctor may ask you to come in with a full bladder. Due to the baby’s small size, the bladder’s pressure will push your uterus closer to the skin’s surface and ultimately result in better imaging. Be careful not to drink too many fluids, however. The first portion of your appointment may include a deep look into your health history.

When it comes time for the ultrasound, you will lay face up on the table and your doctor will apply a cool gel on your abdomen. (The gel works to amplify the sound waves). The ultrasound tech will then roll the transducer across your abdominal area.

The resulting imaging from the echoes will be able to reveal several important factors about your pregnancy. First, your doctor will want to make sure the baby is implanted in the proper location. On rare occasion, the egg is fertilized and implants before it reaches the uterus. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy and it can be fatal if left untreated.

The doctor will also look for the baby’s heartbeat. The heartbeat will appear on the screen as a flicker. If a heartbeat is not detected, it is not cause for panic. This simply may mean that your baby is not yet six weeks and your doctor will reschedule your appointment. In some cases, your doctor may detect two or more heartbeats indicating that you are expecting multiples. This is one of the many reasons first trimester ultrasounds are important. The earlier you are aware of how many babies you are carrying, the more time you have to prepare.

It is also important for preparation as well as monitoring the pregnancy to determine the exact age of the baby. Many women who have irregular menstrual cycles may not know when they became pregnant. While calculating the age of the baby by determining the first day of your last menstrual cycle can give an approximate age, knowing the exact age of the baby will help you plan better for the baby’s arrival date.

After the ultrasound is performed, you will be given images of your baby to be. Keeping these images are a great way to memorialize the day you met your baby for the first time. While you may still be several long months away from meeting your new son or daughter, being able to watch your baby grow and change is one of the greatest gifts of pregnancy.

baby scan

This post was written for The Rose Diaries by Glenn Josephik.  Glenn is an account representative and the marketing coordinator at MedCorp LLC, the industry leader and premier business source for used portable ultrasound systems.

You can follow Glenn Josephik on Google+

Hospital Birth – May 2012

Leyla shares her story. It may not be a typical “hypnobirthing” story but she kept calm, used natural birthing positions,  despite not getting the water birth she wanted ….
2am – I remember looking at the clock and trying to go to sleep but the surges kept waking me up.  I had had surges from around 34 weeks some lasting a whole day others just for an hour or two.  But they never became regular enough for me to worry or the intensity increase.  These ones where every 6 minutes and intense enough to stop me sleeping.
4 am – I was still awake unable to get comfy to sleep, in all my waking around as this seemed to be the only thing that helped I had woke up our daughter and had to get her back to sleep, only she wanted to lie in our bed.  I remember watching her sleep and thinking how different things were soon going to be, surges 4 minutes apart but no more painful.
7 am – I had a show and decided that it was perhaps time to wake up husband.  We agreed to wait until 8.
8 am – the surges were still 4 minutes apart we rang the hospital who said we could come in to be checked out.  At that time we lived a 35 – 45 minute drive down the motorway to the hospital.   With my eldest they closed  part of it and I was dreading the same thing happening.  We called nursery and then my parents.
As we got in the car the frequency of the surges slowed to 12 minutes apart, I was gutted but still wanted to be safe and get checked out.
8.50 am – I was examined by a mid wife and was 4-5cm.  They let me stay on the ward.  The midwife told me I did not look in enough pain to be in labour so she would wait until 10 to re asses me and make a decision.
10.40 am – Examined and I was almost 5 cm but I was not longer having surges, they told me to go home.  I was gutted.  I did not want to get stuck on the motorway, just in case and did not really want to go to my parents as I really did not want my daughter to see me in pain.
10.50 – As we were leaving the hospital the next wave of contractions started, this time much stronger and 4 minutes apart.
12.32 – According to the parking machine we arrive back in hospital. I remember the midwife kept trying to get me to lie on my back and I remember my instincts telling me to get on my knees and put my arms on the top of the bed, leaning on the back on it so I was in a more natural position.
I am not sure of the exact timing of it, I remember the midwife was not there just me and my husband, I felt that all mighty pressure and a feeling of self doubt.  I remembered from my first pregnancy that this meant I needed to push so I did, just one.  The midwife came in at this point, this was the second time she had come in and she turned me onto my back to examine me.  She said I can see the membranes, as my waters were still in tact at this point, let me try pop them for you.  She touched them and not only did they pop, but by doing so my daughters head also came out.  My husband said it was one second no head, next second head.   I felt instant relief, no more surges.  Which was when the midwife said twice, on the next contraction push and your baby will be out.  Baby was born at 13.32.
Welcome to the world little one ….

The full story was initially shared on This Day I Love