Types of Ultrasounds

October 12, 2020

Finding out you’re pregnant for the first time is a life-changing experience. You can be shocked, excited, and scared, all at the same time. Or, if you’ve had children before, you may be wondering how having a new family member will change the dynamics at home, or how much busier you will be. But, regardless of the circumstances, something that’s common across the board is that when expectant women know they will have an ultrasound at an appointment with their OB-GYN, they look forward to seeing their baby for the first time. But, what type of ultrasounds are available? And how do you know which one would be the best one for you?

What is a Pregnancy Ultrasound?

A pregnancy ultrasound — also known as a sonogram — is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves that emit images of your developing baby. It is used for different purposes throughout the pregnancy.

Pregnancy Ultrasound During the First Trimester

The first trimester consists of the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Most women discover they are pregnant between the first four and seven weeks of pregnancy. Ultrasounds are performed during this time period to confirm the pregnancy, as well as to monitor fetal heartbeat, examine the health of the expectant mother’s reproductive organs, and estimate a due date.

Pregnancy Ultrasound During the Second Trimester

The second trimester is the timeframe between 12 and 24 weeks of gestation. During this time, follow-up ultrasounds are completed to continue to monitor the fetus’ development and health, determine their sex, monitor the levels of amniotic fluid, and check for any developmental and/or health problems of the fetus. It is also during this time that an ultrasound can reveal multiple pregnancies.

Pregnancy Ultrasound During the Third Trimester

The third trimester is the time period between 24 and 40 weeks of pregnancy. Just as during the second trimester, ultrasounds are continued to be performed to monitor the development and the health of the baby. The OB-GYN will also monitor the baby’s position to determine whether they will be in a birth or breech position near the time of delivery.

Types of Pregnancy Ultrasounds

Traditional ultrasounds require a technician to apply a gel to your abdomen and pelvis to allow sound waves to travel. Once your pregnant belly is covered with this gel, the technician will run a tool called a transducer along your stomach to capture black and white images of your uterus and baby, which you’ll be able to look at from a screen. However, modern technology has provided more advanced types of sonograms that allow you to see more detailed images of your baby.

1. Doppler Ultrasounds

Doppler ultrasounds are used to examine the blood flow of the woman’s reproductive organs, as well as to monitor the blood circulation of the fetus. This is able to be determined by the blood movement caused by the fetal heartbeat. It is usually used during the first trimester of pregnancy if any abnormalities are detected in earlier sonograms. They are also commonly used during a multiple pregnancy, since these tend to have a higher risk of complications — thus requiring more frequent monitoring.

2. Transvaginal Ultrasounds

During a transvaginal ultrasound — also called an endovaginal ultrasound — the technician inserts a lubricated probe covered with a condom into the vagina, and rest it against the back of the cervix while it captures images of your reproductive organs. It allows your OB-GYN to examine your cervix and placenta for any abnormalities that could result in complications, such as a miscarriage or preterm labor. This type of ultrasound is more often used during the first trimester, and they provide clearer images than with traditional sonograms. You’ll also be required to have either a partially full or a full bladder, and your doctor will give you instructions regarding how much water to drink in preparation for the procedure.

3. 3-D and 4-D Ultrasounds

3D and 4-D ultrasounds are not standard, and they’re not available at every doctor’s office. In addition, they are sometimes not covered by health insurance. They are used for the same purposes as other types of ultrasounds — to monitor the health of your reproductive organs, the baby, and fetal development. However, a 3-D ultrasound provides three-dimensional images of the baby, which allows you to see everything in greater detail. Meanwhile, 4-D ultrasounds create a video of what’s going on inside your uterus — which allows you to capture real-time moments, such as your baby smiling.

4. Fetal Echocardiography

This type of ultrasound uses waves to assess the baby’s heart anatomy and function, making this procedure useful in the detection of suspected congenital heart defects.

5. Obstetric Ultrasound

The first time you see your baby will typically be through a standard obstetric ultrasound. These images allow doctors to learn vital information about your baby’s development throughout your pregnancy.

6. Nuchal Translucency Sonograms

This type of ultrasound is an optional test used to evaluate your baby’s risk of specific chromosomal abnormalities. It is offered between the 11th and 13th weeks of pregnancy, along with a maternal blood test.

Call OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch for More Information

At OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we provide a variety of services for every woman. No matter your age or medical history, we’ll help you feel comfortable and answer all of your reproductive health-related questions.

Call us today to schedule an appointment.