The little pink line in the test strip window confirmed your doubts! You’re pregnant, congratulations! But, wait. You will need an official confirmation before you go ahead and spill the beans. This includes an ultrasound exam and a blood test at your obstetrician’s office.
Many women, especially first timers, are clueless about this first trimester screening. Well, you needn’t worry. This article educates you on the first trimester ultrasound.
When is the first trimester ultrasound conducted?
The first ultrasound is conducted between 6 and 9 weeks. This means in the second month. The ultrasound exam is also called a sonogram. Some practitioners may ask you to come with a full bladder. It provides better quality images as the sound waves transmit better through liquids. Thus, when you schedule your appointment, you should enquire about this requirement.
What happens during an ultrasound?
There are two types of ultrasounds- abdominal and trans-vaginal. Most doctors recommend the first. However, the second type may be recommended if you’re overweight or if your uterus is embedded deep in the pelvic cavity.
In the first type, the sonographer applies a small amount of gel to your abdomen. He uses a device called a transducer on the gel applied area. This device transmits high frequency sound waves into the body which when reflected back convert into images we observe on the screen.
In the second method, the sonographer inserts a thin, wand like transducer into the vagina. This method uses the same high frequency sound waves to provide images of the uterus and the growing fetus. A trans-vaginal ultrasound generally gives you a clearer picture of the fetus.
The ultrasound will take around 30 minutes. It is safe and a painless procedure. The snap shots or pictures (black and white) are printed or recorded in video format. They are given to the obstetrician who will estimate the due date and assess the health of the fetus.
The Importance of the First Trimester Ultrasound
There are different reasons why a doctor recommends the first trimester ultrasound.
- Estimating the Due Date – The main purpose behind the ultrasound is to determine the due date. He estimates the due date on the basis of the size of the fetus. All fetuses in the initial stages measure the same. By measuring from the head to the bottom the doctors will tell you your baby’s age and your due date.
- Checking the Baby’s Heartbeat – During the ultrasound the doctor tries to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. You can actually see the heartbeat on the screen. It tends to be an emotional moment for the couple. Besides, the sight or sound of two or multiple heartbeats will detect if you’re carrying multiples.
- Ruling out Pregnancy Complications – The ultrasound reports will also help a doctor rule out other pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancy (fetus positioned in the fallopian tubes instead of uterus) and molar pregnancy (abnormal placenta). The doctor will also check for other development issues.
An ultrasound is safe for both the mother and child. So, schedule your appointment and see your baby for the first time. It’s a moment to cherish. Don’t forget to take your hubby along.