Most pregnant patients look forward to their ultrasound like an excited child looks forward to his or her birthday. It's a chance for the parents-to-be to get their first glimpse of their baby. Parents are often anxious to have important questions answered such as, "Is my baby healthy?" "Is the baby active?" and the ever popular, "Are we having a boy or a girl?"
While these typical ultrasound scans are important to the parents, they're also critical to patient care. In the earliest days and weeks of a pregnancy, ultrasounds are used to ensure that the baby has a heartbeat and determine if the patient is pregnant with multiples. It can also be used to determine if any early pregnancy issues exist such as ectopic pregnancy and to determine how far along a pregnancy may be.
At approximately the midpoint of a pregnancy, most obstetricians will schedule a patient to have an ultrasound performed by a sonographer. During this appointment, the sonographer will take many photos of the baby to ensure proper development and to assess the risk of certain medical conditions. During this appointment, the baby's sex is typically revealed, assuming he or she cooperates and provides the technician with a good view.
In many cases, the mid-point ultrasound is the only pre-delivery chance for parents to see their baby. However, for some women, ultrasounds will be performed again in the final weeks of a pregnancy to accurately determine the baby's growth, check the position of the baby, measure the length of the mother's cervix, or to determine the amount of fluid in the placenta.
The ultrasound appointments are usually a pain-free procedure. Some technicians will start by having the patient drink a large glass of water in order to get a better view of the baby. During the appointment, the sonographer will apply a gel to the patient's stomach and then gently move the sonogram wand over the stomach, pausing to capture images for the doctor to review following the appointment. In some cases, a vaginal ultrasound will also be performed in order to get a better look at the baby or to measure the length of the cervix and placement of the placenta.
If you live in the Houston area and have questions about ultrasound scans, call the office of Jenkins Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Medicine. Dr. Jenkins has helped many patients understand this and other important tests.
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