Ultrasound is also known as sonogram. It is  a prenatal test that uses frequency sound waves to show a photo of the baby in a pregnant woman’s uterus. An ultrasound helps your healthcare provider check the health of your baby.


Depending on when it is done and the position of the baby , an ultrasound can may be able to tell you the sex  of the baby or show you his hands and other body parts.


Some women get an early ultrasound which is done in the first trimester around pregnancy week 14. Most women however get an ultrasound in the second trimester around pregnancy week 18 and pregnancy week 20.


What are the different types of ultrasounds ?


There are basically 7 different types of ultrasound. The type you use depends on how far you are in your pregnancy and what your  healthcare provider is looking for.


Transvaginal scan : This is a specially designed probe transducer which is used inside the vagina to produce images of the fetus. It is usually used during the early stages of pregnancy.


Doppler ultrasound : This ultrasound is used to check blood flow in your baby if he is not growing well. It is also used to check the heartbeat of your baby as well as well as measure the blood flow in the umbilical cord  and some of his blood vessels.


Transabdominal ultrasound :  When people say pregnancy ultrasound, this is usually what they talking about. The transducer moves across your belly which is covered in a thin layer of gel.


Advanced ultrasound : This is the same as a standard ultrasound except that it uses a more sophisticated equipment to check out a suspected problem.


3-D ultrasound : This uses a prob designed to provide 3-D images of the baby. It may be used to check if the baby’s organs  are developing well or to check out a problem.


4-D or Dynamic 3-D Ultrasound :  This can be used to look at the baby face and movements.


Fetal Echocardiography  : This ultrasound is used when a congenital heart defect is suspected. It is used to assess the baby’s heart anatomy and functions.


What are the reasons for having and ultrasound ?


Some of the reasons why a pregnant women may be asked to do an ultrasound include the following :


First trimester


Second trimester

  • check if you are carrying multiples
  • check the level of the amniotic fluid
  • evaluate the over all health of the baby
  • screen for birth defects such as spina bifida
  • check for structural abnormalities


Third trimester

  • observe fetal movement
  • check for intrauterine growth
  • observe fetal movement
  • identify the location of the placenta
  • identify uterine and pelvic abnormalities in the mother


It may also be used with other prenatal testings such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling to confirm a diagnosis.


Are there any risks ?


When used properly, this non invasive procedure poses no harm to the mother and baby. However it is recommended that an ultrasound be done only when it is medically necessary. The long-term effect of repeated exposure to ultrasound is not known.


If an ultrasound shows that everything is normal, you will continue with your regular prenatal checkup. However if it detects a problem, you and your baby may require special care and treatment.

Content Sources
Ultrasound : sonogram. http://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing/ultrasound/. Accessed November 5, 2014

Ultrasound during pregnancy. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/ultrasound-during-pregnancy.aspx. Accessed November 5, 2014

Ultrasound during pregnancy. American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/pregnancy-newborns/fetal-health/ultrasound-during-pregnancy.html. Accessed November 5, 2014


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