What To Expect: Ultrasounds

WHAT TO EXPECT: Ultrasounds

Ultrasound varies depending on your medical provider. Most OBs will have basic recommended ultrasounds done but they are only ordered when medically necessary; it’s not just for fun. Basically, there are two recommended ultrasounds*: an early ultrasound to verify viability and a second trimester ultrasound. There is no known risk of fetal harm from ultrasound, however, the effects of repeated or excessive exposure to ultrasound is unknown, so the medical community recommends that ultrasounds only be done when medically indicated. Ultrasound is simply a tool that helps determine the well-being of the baby and diagnose potential complications.

Early Ultrasound – First Trimester (up to 13 weeks)

This ultrasound only determines viability, heartbeat, crown/rump length (or gestational age), and detect possible molar or ectopic pregnancy,. This is done either abdominally or trans-vaginally depending on how far along you are.

Second Trimester (16-20 Weeks)

This ultrasound is what is commonly known as the “anatomy scan” ultrasound. It checks for down syndrome, congenital abnormalities, measures fetal growth, fetal organs, amniotic fluid, and potential complications. Gender can be determined at 18-20 weeks but depends on the position of the baby and the stage of development.

Third Trimester (28-40 Weeks)

This ultrasound is not always done but if your doctor orders one it is used for things like the placement of the placenta, observe fetal presentation (i.e. breech position), observe fetal movement, confirm intrauterine death, or other abnormalities.

Optional 3D/4D Ultrasounds

Due to modern technology, there is a capability of 3D and 4D ultrasounds. However, these are not considered medical ultrasounds and the traditional 2D ultrasound is all that is needed to verify fetal development. If you really want one of these you will need to find a clinic that does them and pay for them yourself because these are not considered medical ultrasounds. Your insurance may cover if your doctor orders it but you should look into it before hand. These ultrasounds are typically expensive – $100 and up. Remember that excessive exposure or higher intensity ultrasound effects on a developing fetus are still unknown and not recommended by medical professionals. For more information and details on the risks of 3D/4D ultrasound click here.

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