Ultrasound (also called sonography) is a safe and painless way for your doctor to see inside your body without using radiation (such as in x-rays). Obstetric ultrasound provides pictures of an embryo or fetus inside your uterus, as well as of your uterus and ovaries – so it’s a valuable tool for monitoring your pregnancy and unborn baby.
How Ultrasound Works
Ultrasound works just like sonar used by ships and bats. When a sound wave hits an object, it bounces back (or echoes). By measuring these echoes, we can determine an object’s position, size, shape and consistency.
In an ultrasound exam, a small transducer (also called a probe) and ultrasound gel are placed directly on your abdomen. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through the gel into your body. As the sound waves bounce back, the transducer collects them, a computer creates a real-time image on the monitor, and you can view your fetus’s movement and heartbeat as an ultrasound “movie.”
How Ultrasound is Used in Pregnancy
Obstetric ultrasound provides important information at all stages of your pregnancy, and most women will have at least one ultrasound exam during pregnancy. The most common reasons for having an ultrasound include:
- Determining the gestational age of the fetus (how far along you are in your pregnancy)
- Checking the baby’s position in the womb
- Finding a cause if there’s bleeding during pregnancy
- Evaluating the anatomy and growth of the fetus
- Identifying multiple gestations (twins, triplets, etc.)
- First-trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities
- Guiding amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) procedures (tests that help identify chromosomal abnormalities)
- Audible fetal heartbeats are no longer recommended by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine during ultrasound. Only hand-held Doppler devices are used to hear the fetal heartbeat.
The number and frequency of ultrasound exams that you have during your pregnancy will depend on your unique health needs and those of your unborn baby. Your doctor will discuss this with you, and we encourage you to ask any questions you might have.
Convenient, On-Site Obstetric Ultrasound at Women’s Health
For your convenience, we offer on-site obstetric ultrasound at all of our office locations – so your ultrasound exam(s) can be scheduled on the same day as your doctor visits in most cases.
State-of-the-art Equipment, Experienced Staff
In addition, we want you to know that our sonographers and physicians are certified by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine – so you can feel confident that your test is being administered and interpreted by specially trained experts who have met rigorous standards for quality and competency.
Questions about Obstetric Ultrasound?
We are happy to answer any questions you have about ultrasound exams during pregnancy. Simply contact us.