Pregnancy is an exciting time for parents and others in the family. But at the same time, it can fill them with uncertainty and anxiety regarding their baby’s health. Here ultrasounds can prove helpful in monitoring the health and development of the growing baby. Also known as sonography, ultrasound is an imaging method that utilizes sound waves to produce images of organs or structures within the body. These images get displayed on an instrument called sonograph that turns sound into graphics. The images obtained from an ultrasound can provide valuable information to medical professionals for diagnosing various diseases and conditions and directing treatment for them.

You, too, may want to go for an ultrasound to check and assess your baby’s development, but something is holding you back from getting it done. You are not sure whether there are any benefits of doing an ultrasound. But more than that, you fear that the ultrasound may harm your baby. 

Let us shed some light on the various benefits of ultrasounds in pregnancy and their risks. It will help you make the right and informed decision accordingly. 

Benefits

  • Ultrasound is a non-invasive and painless procedure, and it helps to confirm and ensure that you are pregnant. 
  • It enables doctors to check your baby’s age and growth, which helps them make out your due date.
  • The ultrasound enables doctors to check your baby’s muscle tone, heartbeat, movement, and overall development.  
  • It helps them check if you are pregnant with twins, triplets, or more babies. It also enables them to identify other situations like placenta previa. The presence of twins or a placenta previa is a high-risk situation that can be dangerous for both mothers and babies. Placenta previa occurs when a baby’s placenta covers the mother’s cervix partially or totally. Placenta previa may lead to a significant maternal hemorrhage. So, the doctor may accordingly advise you to choose a hospital over a birth center or home birth for your delivery.  
  • The ultrasound enables doctors to check if your baby lies in the heads-first position before birth. 
  • With the help of the ultrasound, doctors can examine your ovaries and uterus (womb). Ovaries are the glands where eggs are stored. 
  • The ultrasound is also used to screen for congenital disabilities like spina bifida or heart defects. Also, it helps with other prenatal tests like chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. Congenital disabilities are those health conditions that a baby has at birth. Congenital disabilities alter the shape or function of one or more body parts, and they can affect the overall health in terms of how the body develops or functions.
  • The ultrasound is also helpful in checking pregnancy complications like molar pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage.
  • It grants parents the opportunity to see their child and perhaps discover its sex. 

 Let us now share with you various risks associated with sonography.

The opinion of doctors varies regarding the risks associated with the conduction of ultrasounds during pregnancy. Some doctors say ultrasounds during pregnancy are safe for mother and baby when done by a qualified and experienced health care provider. They say ultrasounds use sound waves instead of radiation, so they are safer than x-rays.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine have a word of caution for parents. They recommend parents against taking 3-D or 4-D ultrasound at commercial keepsake ultrasound centers. The people performing these ultrasounds may not have done medical training and may provide you with wrong or even harmful information. 

Jacques S. Abramowicz, MD has also provided his research findings regarding the risks of pregnancy ultrasounds that were published in PubMed. Dr. Abramowicz is associated with the Department of Ob/Gyn, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine and Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. According to him, there is a general belief that a diagnostic ultrasound does not pose any threat to the pregnant patient or her fetus. Despite that, ultrasound is a form of energy and shows effects on biological tissues it passes through (bioeffects). The physical mechanisms causing these effects are thermal or non-thermal (mechanical). It is the role of science to show if any of these bio effects may be harmful.

So, your medical practitioner can better guide and educate you on any risks of the ultrasound procedure during your pregnancy. Therefore, it would help if you talk to the practitioner in this regard before undergoing an ultrasound. 

Can ultrasounds find every problem?

If you have a healthy pregnancy, an ultrasound is good at ruling out problems, but it cannot find every problem. It may miss some congenital disabilities. Sometimes, a routine ultrasound may suggest a congenital disability while it is not there in reality. Such false results of ultrasounds can cause worry to parents. 

Ultrasound scans are not 100 percent accurate. If they suggest any medical condition in the child, follow-up tests need to be conducted to confirm the condition or rule it out. 

How many ultrasounds will you have during your pregnancy?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) currently suggests that pregnant women should have at least one ultrasound exam during pregnancy. It is performed between 18 and 22 weeks of gestation. This ultrasound allows doctors to look for abnormal fetal development or other problems with the uterus, placenta, or amniotic fluid. 

Different kinds of ultrasound

Ultrasounds are of different kinds. The kind of ultrasound performed on you depends on what your doctor is checking for and how far you have reached in pregnancy. All ultrasounds are done through a transducer tool, which uses sound waves to create pictures of your baby on a computer screen (sonograph)

These are the most common kinds of ultrasound- 

Transabdominal ultrasound

In this ultrasound, the patient is made to lay on his back on an examination table and the doctor or technician covers the belly with a thin layer of gel. The gel helps make the sound waves move more easily, so a better picture can be captured. Then technician/doctor moves the transducer across the belly. The doctor may suggest you drink several glasses of water about 2 hours before the scan to have a full bladder during the ultrasound. A full bladder helps sound waves move more efficiently to get a better picture. This ultrasound does not cause any pain but may make you feel uncomfortable due to the full bladder. The duration of this ultrasound is around 20 minutes. 

Transvaginal ultrasound

This kind of ultrasound is performed through the vagina (birth canal). The patient is made to lay on her back on an examination table with her feet in stirrups. The technician moves a thin transducer shaped like a wand into the vagina. It shouldn’t cause you pain, but you may feel some pressure from the transducer. Your bladder needs to be empty or just partly complete for this procedure.

In some exceptional cases, your doctor may use the below-mentioned kinds of ultrasound to obtain more information about your baby.  

Doppler ultrasound

This kind of ultrasound is used for checking the baby’s flow if he is not growing naturally. A technician uses a transducer to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and measure the blood flow in the umbilical cord in some of the baby’s blood vessels. If an expectant mother has Rh (Rhesus) disease, a Doppler ultrasound may be required. In Rh disease, antibodies produced in the blood of a pregnant woman destroy the blood cells of her baby. If Rh blood condition is not treated, it can cause severe problems to your baby. Doppler ultrasound is generally used in the last trimester, but it may be performed earlier. 

3-D ultrasound 

This ultrasound captures thousands of pictures at once, and it makes a 3-D image that is nearly clear as a photograph. Some doctors use this type of ultrasound to check if your baby’s organs grow and develop normally. This ultrasound can also check the abnormalities in the baby’s face, and it can also be done to check for problems in the uterus. 

4-D ultrasound

This ultrasound is like a 3-D ultrasound, but it also shows the baby’s movements in a video. 

Now you better understand the benefits and risks associated with sonography and other related aspects. So you know what to expect in your pregnancy ultrasound. But to gain more knowledge about the risks, benefits, and other related facets of your pregnancy ultrasound, you need to talk with the concerned doctor.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a reputed and trusted pregnancy ultrasound provider in Mesa, Arizona, you can rely on DigiBaby for the same. It has state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and expert doctors and technicians to provide you with a safe and enjoyable diagnostic experience. For obtaining more information about your ultrasound, get in touch with us at 480-259-4108.  

We also provide pregnancy ultrasound services in Woodridge, Illinois, and Livermore, California. 

A happy and exciting pregnancy ultrasound experience awaits you at DigiBaby, so don’t miss it.

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