Prenatal Testing - Pregnancy Ultrasound
What is an Ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a prenatal test procedure in which high frequency sound waves are used to obtain images of the uterus and internal organs in order to monitor fetal development.
The image itself is in fact the sound wave echoes produced during an ultrasound. A 3D ultrasound is one type of prenatal test that provides comprehensive detail about fetal development, and also provides the basis for the latest type of ultrasound testing: a 4D ultrasound.
Because ultrasounds do not use harmful ionizing radiation as X-rays do, they are a safe method in which to monitor a pregnancy.
Why Should I Have an Ultrasound?
An ultrasound has many benefits as a prenatal test, including the following:
- detect the presence of the embryo or fetus
- establish the cause of bleeding during pregnancy
- detect congenital irregularities
- determine if there are twins or multiples
- monitor placental health
- assess the age and size of the fetus
- evaluate preterm labor risks due to cervical changes
- detect a breech position
Preparing for an Ultrasound
You should wear loose, comfortable clothing when going to an ultrasound test.
Also, an ultrasound requires that you have a full bladder. As such, your health care provider will instruct you to have up to 6 glasses of water prior to undergoing this prenatal care test. In addition, you should not urinate during the 2 hours prior to undergoing this procedure.
However, for ultrasounds conducted later on during pregnancy, a full bladder is generally not required.
During an ultrasound, a film gel will be applied to your abdomen in order to produce high quality images; your ultrasound technician will then use a transducer in order to produce images of your baby’s development.
A level one ultrasound (preliminary ultrasound) is performed at 12 weeks in order to date your pregnancy.
From between 18 to 22 weeks, a level two ultrasound will be conducted in order to monitor the baby’s development.
Additional ultrasounds can be performed as needed according to your prenatal care practitioner’s advice in order to assess fetal health, as well as to monitor any birth defects or other complications.