Ultrasound in Pregnancy: What to Expect, Purpose & Results in Los Angeles & Orange County, CA

Knowing what to expect and keeping updated during pregnancy is one of the most effective ways of managing stress during this exciting but worrisome period of life. 

There are many diagnostic tests available to doctors and obstetricians, with ultrasound being a staple procedure that helps monitor a pregnancy’s progress. Given its safety and efficient diagnostic capability, ultrasounds have become a routine part of prenatal care for many expectant mothers worldwide. 

Here, the expert team at AllSafe Medical Group discusses ultrasound, so you can become familiar with one of the integral processes that will be used throughout your pregnancy.  

What Is an Ultrasound During Pregnancy?

An ultrasound in pregnancy, also known as a sonogram, is a non-invasive imaging technique. The procedure helps doctors visualize and examine the developing fetus inside the mother’s womb. 

Utilizing high-frequency sound waves, an ultrasound provides real-time images, allowing healthcare professionals to assess the fetus’ growth, anatomy, position, and placenta location. Ultrasounds play a fundamental role in ensuring the health and wellbeing of both the fetus and the mother.

Why Is a Fetal Ultrasound Important During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, being aware of potential complications as early as possible is absolutely crucial to managing any situations that may arise. An ultrasound during pregnancy helps early detection, and serves several crucial medical purposes during pregnancy.

  • Determine pregnancy viability. One of the earliest uses of an ultrasound is to confirm a living embryo within the uterus, ruling out concerns like ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages.
  • Estimate due date. Ultrasounds can accurately calculate your baby’s gestational age, helping to predict your due date. This ensures proper tracking of fetal growth and development.
  • Assess fetal anatomy. An in-depth anatomy scan, typically conducted around the mid-pregnancy mark, inspects the baby’s organs and skeletal system for normal development and potential anomalies.
  • Identify multiple pregnancies. Ultrasounds can detect if you’re expecting twins, triplets, or more, allowing for better prenatal care tailored to multiple births.
  • Examine placenta position. It’s vital to ensure that the placenta isn’t covering the cervix (placenta previa) as it can lead to complications during delivery.
  • Assess amniotic fluid levels. Adequate amniotic fluid is essential for the baby’s growth and wellbeing. An ultrasound can measure these levels to ensure they’re within normal range.
  • Monitor fetal growth and position. Regular scans can track your baby’s size, ensuring they are growing at a healthy rate. It also helps determine the baby’s position closer to delivery, providing insights for birth planning.
  • Guidance for other tests. In procedures like amniocentesis, ultrasounds guide healthcare providers, ensuring safety and precision.

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What Are the Two Main Types of Pregnancy Ultrasounds?

Pregnancy ultrasounds fall into two categories based on their method of administration: transvaginal ultrasound and abdominal ultrasound.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

A transvaginal ultrasound is an examination of the female pelvis and placenta. The procedure involves using a probe inside the vagina to emit sound waves that collect the echoes as they bounce back to create an image of the uterus and the developing fetus.

When It’s Used

Typically, transvaginal ultrasounds are used during the early stages of pregnancy. Because the transducer is positioned closer to the uterus during a transvaginal ultrasound, it can provide clearer images and more accurate details of the embryo or fetus in the initial stages, especially before the uterus rises into the abdominal cavity.

Abdominal Ultrasound

This is the more commonly visualized type of ultrasound where a gel-covered transducer is moved across the abdomen to obtain images of the fetus and its surroundings.

When It’s Used

As the pregnancy progresses, usually from the second trimester onward, the abdominal ultrasound becomes the standard method. By this time, the uterus has enlarged enough to allow the fetus to be easily viewed from the abdomen.

How Do I Prepare for an Ultrasound?

Timing, comfort, and preparation are key for a successful and stress-free ultrasound. 

First, schedule appropriately. Your obstetrician will help guide you as to when to schedule your ultrasound, depending on its type and purpose. They will likely advise you to come to your appointment with a full bladder, as particularly in the second trimester, a full bladder can provide a clearer image by pushing the uterus up. 

Finally, wear comfortable clothing ideally a two-piece outfit, to provide easy access to the abdomen without the need to undress completely.

Pregnancy Ultrasound Results and Follow-Up

After undergoing a prenatal ultrasound, understanding the results and potential follow-up actions is crucial for expectant parents.

Understanding the Results

Depending on where you get your ultrasound and the technician’s experience, you’ll likely receive some initial feedback during the scan. However, a full interpretation typically requires an obstetrician or radiologist.

The ultrasound will be followed by a written report detailing the findings. This report will provide measurements, observations, and potentially any areas of concern. You’ll also be given images or videos from the scan. These not only serve as cherished keepsakes but can be essential for future medical reference.

Follow-Up Actions

Understanding what to do after your initial ultrasound can help you plan further ahead. These are common, but not necessarily essential, steps that patients take after an ultrasound.

  • Routine monitoring. In a standard, low-risk pregnancy, a typical follow-up might simply be the next scheduled prenatal visit with your healthcare provider.
  • Further scans. If there’s something specific the doctor wishes to monitor, they may recommend an additional ultrasound or a more detailed type of scan.
  • Specialist referral. If potential anomalies or concerns are identified, you might be referred to a fetal medicine specialist or another expert for a more in-depth assessment.
  • Other diagnostic tests. In cases where the ultrasound identifies potential concerns about genetic or developmental conditions, you might be offered additional tests.
  • Counseling. If there are potential concerns or confirmed issues with the pregnancy, counseling might be offered to help parents understand the findings, potential outcomes, and any decisions they may need to make.  

FAQ: Pregnancy Ultrasound FAQs at AllSafe Medical Group

Most women have 2 to 3 ultrasounds during their pregnancy, though it varies based on medical needs.

You typically have your first prenatal ultrasound between 6 to 9 weeks of pregnancy.

A baby can often be seen on an ultrasound as early as 6 weeks, although details are clearer after 8 weeks.

The mid-pregnancy anatomy scan, usually done between 18 to 22 weeks, is considered the most important as it assesses fetal structures and development.

The sex of the baby can usually be determined by a pregnancy ultrasound around 18 to 20 weeks, depending on the baby’s position and the clarity of the image.

Pregnancy Ultrasound in Los Angeles & Orange County, CA

Ultrasounds are exciting events during your pregnancy as they’ll be the first time you get to see your baby. You’ll also be able to watch your baby develop as your pregnancy progresses, but ultrasounds are far more than that. They’re an essential diagnostic tool to ensure the safe development of your unborn child. 

Contact the expert team of surgeons and mothers at AllSafe Medical Group to learn more about ultrasounds and booking your ultrasound schedule with one of the leading obstetrician teams in the state. 

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