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.
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.
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