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Home / Pregnancy

Pregnancy: When and why you should get ultrasounds

 Ultrasounds help you know whether your pregnancy is at risk or not (Image: Shutterstock)

Boy or girl? This is one of the major questions that run through the minds of mums who just found out they are pregnant as they eagerly await to meet their little one.

Through a scan, a doctor is able to find out important information such as how far in you are in your pregnancy, whether the limbs are properly formed and if the pregnancy is at risk or not.

To have a first peak at your baby to determine the viability of your pregnancy, the sound waves emitted from the transducer-the wand placed on top of your belly or inserted vaginally, bounce off the tissues, bones and fluids of the growing baby.

The echoes are translated into images which you see on the screen.

Here is more information on why and when to get this procedure done once it is confirmed you are expecting:

When to get it

To get a much clearer picture of your baby early on, a transvaginal ultrasound is carried out. Reason being the gestational sac and the fetal pole-a preliminary structure that develops into a fetus and has the head of an embryo at one end and appears as a thick area alongside the yolk sac are too small at this point.

Although it is not necessary to do it often, it is advised to get at least one ultra sound done.

As part of your prenatal care, you may consider having three scans done.

A dating scan can help determine expected date of delivery. Carried anytime from six weeks, it helps especially if you don’t know the date of conception.

The nuchal translucency scan may be done as part of the dating scan to determine if your baby may be at a risk of having a chromosomal abnormality.

A morphology scan usually takes place between 18 to 20 weeks. This helps the doctor to see your baby’s body, observe the placenta position, the amniotic fluid around you and the baby’s body and the umbilical cord.

In the event where you have certain medical conditions, be at high risk of complications or you’re having more than one baby you may required to have more scans taken.

 It will also help you learn the sex of your baby (Image: Shutterstock)

Why to get it

Other than estimating your due date, a scan during the first trimester checks the fetal heartbeat, rules out an ectopic pregnancy and confirms the number of babies in your uterus.

The second trimester verifies the placenta position, determines the baby’s sex, confirms the amniotic fluid levels are normal and checks all major organs and the baby’s size.

Although considered safe, medical practitioners ask mothers to exercise caution to minimize womb intrusion.

In the event spotting occurs, an additional scan may be carried out to confirm all is well. If your baby is also not properly positioned or you’re at a risk of pre-term labor this may be cause enough for your doctor to do your ultrasound.

If more information is needed, a doppler ultrasound may be done earlier or in the last trimester to check the baby’s blood flow to be sure he or she is growing normally.

If abnormalities on the baby’s face are suspected to be the case, a 3D ultrasound takes photograph like images that help the doctor know if the organs are fine and rule out any problems that may be in the uterus.

To show your baby’s movement in the womb, a 4D ultrasound is taken.

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