What is a Baby Sonogram or a Baby Ultrasound?
An obstetrics ultrasound, or a pregnancy ultrasound is an exam that visualizes the growth, anatomy and over appearance of the fetus within the female pelvis. Without being exposed to radiation, an ultrasound is the safest procedure for both mother and baby throughout the course of a pregnancy.
A female pregnancy consists of a 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimester. In which during these trimesters ultrasounds are highly recommended to evaluate the baby fetus and to help assure good health to both the mother and baby. First pregnancy ultrasounds are usually scheduled between the sixth weeks and tenth weeks of pregnancy.
How is the baby ultrasound performed?
Like many ultrasounds, this type of procedure is performed by a trained sonographer who is able to operate the ultrasound machine and obtain images and measurements needed to evaluate the fetus. Patients are examined in a comfortable upright position, which helps alleviate pressure on the lower back.
Water base soluble ultrasound gel is applied over the patient's abdomen, this helps transmits waveforms from the transducer (camera) and aides in obtaining detail images on the ultrasound monitor.
Does a pregnancy ultrasound hurt?
An abdominal ultrasound to check the health of the baby is usually painless. You may feel a slight pressure from the transducer site but otherwise this procedure is painless. Prenatal ultrasounds are a crucial part of your pregnancy and thus should be performed on a timely manner.
Are there different kinds of ultrasounds used during pregnancy?
The most common forms of ultrasounds used during pregnancy are transabdominal ultrasound, transvaginal ultrasound, Doppler ultrasound, 3-D ultrasound, and 4-D ultrasound.
Fetus Transabdominal view vs. Transvaginal view
During the early 1st trimester of pregnancy, most OB ultrasounds are best performed with a full bladder to clearly visualize both uterus and fetus. However, a full bladder is not necessary during the 2nd and 3rd trimester because over the duration of the pregnancy, the fetus will show growth and development that can be well seen clearly through ultrasound without a full bladder.
There is a different approach for viewing the fetus and gestational sac during the 1st trimester of pregnancy. Transvaginal ultrasound is an invasive procedure, where the transducer (wand) is inserted into the vagina to get a close up view of the uterus, fetus and cervix of the female pelvis. This is a painless procedure that requires an empty bladder during examination. Transvaginal ultrasound is not necessary during the 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy.
What are Obstetric Ultrasound Scans?
An Obstetric Ultrasound is the same as a baby sonogram or baby ultrasound. Measurements of the Crown-rump length, Biparietal diameter, Femur length, Abdominal Circumference and more are made during this scan.
Why is an Obstetrics Ultrasound important?
An ultrasound is the primary tool a lot of physicians rely on for overall evaluation of the baby fetus. During each trimester, an ultrasound is performed to evaluate the condition of the fetus and to ensure proper growth and development. There are many reasons why an ultrasound may be performed, for example:
- Confirmation of pregnancy
- Vaginal Bleeding during pregnancy
- Determining fetal size and gestational age
- Monitoring growth and development
1st Trimester Ultrasound
An ultrasound during the 1st trimester can provide an image of the fetus in its infancy and determine implantation of the embryo.
Tests that can confirm pregnancy:
- Urine test
- Blood test
- Transabdominal ultrasound
These tests check the hormone levels called HCG that are commonly elevated when a women is pregnant.
An ultrasound not only confirms pregnancy, but screens for normal and abnormal variants that exist. During the 1st trimester of pregnancy information obtained through sonography is used to measure proper embryo and gestational sac development and location.
Normal variant findings:
- Embryo within the gestational sac
- Identifying multiple pregnancies
- Heart Rate
2nd & 3rd Trimester
Over the duration of the pregnancy, the size and growth of the fetus will change. Facial features, limbs and anatomy can be seen developing. During this time we are able to use ultrasound to determine the gender of the baby. The purpose for screening during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters is to evaluate proper growth and position of the baby.
Measurements to evaluate growth of fetus:
- Head Circumference
- Abdominal Circumference
- Biparietal Diameter
- Femur Length
- Heart Rate
Risk Factors during Pregnancy
A mother's health is highly important during the duration of the pregnancy. Medical conditions such as heart conditions or blood pressure issues that could lead to toxemia would be considered a “high risk” pregnancy for the patient and baby.
Although pregnancy can be exciting and a great experience, chances of medical conditions that may affect the fetus can occur. Using ultrasound to screen for these types of conditions is highly useful and recommended.
Abnormal conditions found during obstetric ultrasound:
- Low Fetal heart rate
- Congenital abnormalities
Benefit of having an Obstetrics Ultrasound
Screening Obstetric ultrasound testing is a useful test that can provide crucial information on the health and development of the baby. An ultrasound provides parents with the gift of being able to hear the first heartbeat, finding out the gender of the baby and seeing a glimpse of their baby for the first time.