Ultrasound during pregnancy have become so common now, that practically every woman will have at least one, and most likely several, over the course of her pregnancy. Depending on the type of healthcare provider you have chosen for your prenatal care, you might have your first ultrasound scheduled during the first trimester, or the beginning of the second trimester. Most expecting moms agree ultrasounds are exciting! For many, they provide the first real chance to bond with their unborn baby. What can you expect from your first ultrasound during pregnancy?
When you arrive at the doctor's office, you will be asked to lie down next to an ultrasound machine. Your ultrasound technician will squirt gel on your abdomen, which enables the sound waves to reach the targeted area more easily. This gel is going to be a bit cool, but it is not anything uncomfortable. Then, the ultrasound tech will place what is called a transducer onto your abdomen, and your baby will appear on screen.
Depending on the length of your pregnancy, an ultrasound examination will look into various things. First, the ultrasound will confirm that your baby's heartbeat is in order, and that your baby is developing properly. You will see and hear your baby's heart beat for the first time! The technician will look whether all internal organs are present and that there are no anomalies. They will also look whether the head and body have the same gestational age, for instance. An early ultrasound can be used fairly accurately to determine the length of your pregnancy. If you had irregular periods before getting pregnant, and do not know exactly when you conceived, this can be useful in telling the doctor when you are "due".
The father you are along in pregnancy, the less accurate ultrasound becomes as a method of determining gestational length. If you do know when you conceived, and your baby is a little bit behind or in front, there is no reason to be worried for those of us who have had several ultrasounds in any one pregnancy, this must have happened at least once. Babies grow at different rates, inside the uterus as well as on the outside!
Then, there is the part of the ultrasound that is most exciting to most of us perhaps, the ultrasound technician will be able to tell your baby's gender! Gender can be seen as early as 14 weeks into your pregnancy, but only if the baby's position is favorable, meaning that the tech will have access to the right spots. Don't be disappointed if you don't find out the sex of your baby at the first ultrasound. You'll probably go on to have another one.
Finally, ultrasounds later in pregnancy can determine the location of the placenta, which can be very important. Placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta attached over the opening of your cervix, is a serious condition that requires a c-section, because your baby will not be able to exit the uterus naturally.
Please, don't be alarmed if you are told early on in pregnancy that your placenta is low-lying though, as this is fairly common, and most placentas "move up" as the uterus expands. In fact, the placenta will remain in the same place, but the uterus expands and the placenta is father removed from the cervix.