Ultrasound Scans: A Window Into The Womb

Congratulations on upgrading that one to two lines on your pregnancy test! As exciting as it is, make no mistake these life-changing stripes come with many responsibilities that start in utero (i.e. inside the uterus/womb).

As a mom-to-be, you are tasked with helping your baby grow and develop to the best of its ability by taking prenatal supplements and going to all your ultrasound scans.

And it is the latter we will be talking about today. Exactly WHY are ultrasound scans so fundamental? Let’s discuss.

How Does An Ultrasound Work?

An ultrasound scan provides doctors with a detailed view of the internal structures of your body by using high-frequency sound waves that reflect off tissues and organs to create clear images.

Contrary to popular belief, ultrasounds are used for MORE than just creating images of unborn babies. They also help diagnose gallbladder disease, evaluate blood flow and metabolic bone disease, guide a needle during biopsy or tumour treatment, examine a breast lump, check the thyroid gland, find genital and prostate problems, and assess joint inflammation (synovitis).

The Purpose Of Ultrasound Scans During Pregnancy


1. Confirmation Of Pregnancy

The reality is that a pregnancy test can provide a false negative. Therefore, you must confirm your pregnancy and its viability via an early ultrasound scan. This scan checks for the presence of an embryo or foetus within the gestational sac, confirms your baby’s heartbeat and determines whether your pregnancy is developing within the uterus.

About 1 to 5% of all pregnancies will result in a missed miscarriage, with chemical pregnancies making up anywhere from 50 to 75% of all miscarriages, both typically occurring shortly after your missed period. Therefore, we cannot stress the importance of getting an early ultrasound scan enough.

Of course, early ultrasound scans can also check for multiple pregnancies and whether you will be eating for one, two, or three.

2. Dating The Pregnancy

An ultrasound scan is crucial for accurately dating your pregnancy, especially since not all pregnancies are planned, and ovulation dates are not always recorded.

This imaging technique enables your healthcare provider to measure your foetus, estimate your date of conception, and provide you with an expected due date.

Leo, Gemini or Libra? Now that in itself is wildly exciting!


3. Assessing Foetal Development And Anatomy

This detailed scan assesses your foetus for any anatomical abnormalities. This may include a nuchal translucency scan, which measures the fluid at the back of your baby’s neck to determine the risk of certain genetic conditions.

It also helps check your placental position, verifies the amount of amniotic fluid in your womb, and allows you the opportunity to learn the sex of your baby, if desired. But let it be known, that this scan is a big deal and should not be missed.

4. Monitoring Your Baby’s Growth And Well-Being

Ultrasound scans later in your pregnancy can be used to monitor the continued growth and well-being of your baby. These scans help check for proper growth according to gestational age and can help in identifying any issues with your placenta or fluid levels.

5. Placental Location And Umbilical Cord

Ultrasound also assists in examining the location of the placenta and the structure of the umbilical cord, which are vital for your baby’s nourishment and oxygen supply.

If you have started to wonder why we keep dropping the word placenta left, right, and center, it is because your placenta helps keep your baby alive and any abnormalities can require special attention and potentially, intervention.

6. Preparing For Delivery

Close to your due date, ultrasounds may be used to determine your baby’s position (e.g. whether your baby is breech or laying head-down), which is crucial information for planning the mode of delivery (natural vs c-section).

When To Schedule Your Ultrasound Examinations

Your healthcare provider will let you know exactly when to have a scan, but here is what you and your calendar can expect to see:-

  • Early Pregnancy scans take place between 6 and 9 weeks.
  • First-trimester scans take place between 11 and 14 weeks.
  • Second-trimester scans take place between 18 and 22 weeks.
  • Third-trimester scans take place between 28 and 32 weeks and beyond.

If you have a low-risk pregnancy, your healthcare provider may deem one scan per month as adequate. However, if you fall under the high-risk pregnancy category, you can expect to make a trip to your healthcare provider and that ultrasound scan every 2 weeks.

Additional Considerations

Are ultrasounds safe? Yes, ultrasound scans are considered safe for both the mother and foetus when used appropriately. They do not use ionising radiation like X-rays do. Instead, they employ sound waves, which have not been shown to harm pregnant women or their unborn children.

Besides the medical benefits, seeing your baby on an ultrasound can be an emotionally enriching experience. It can help in strengthening the bond with the baby and provide reassurance and peace of mind about the health of the pregnancy.

Final Thoughts

Ultrasound scans are a critical component of prenatal care. They provide essential medical insights into the development and health of your foetus and YOU!

Following the recommended schedule for these scans can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy and successful childbirth.

And do not forget, have fun, as a pregnancy only lasts 9 months.



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