Types of ultrasounds: There are various times in life where an ultrasound can be helpful for diagnosing medical conditions. We are talking here about ultrasounds regarding pregnancy. Every care provider is different in how often they recommend ultrasounds and trusting they are of the results. Find a care provider that you trust and be honest with them about your comfort level with the different types of ultrasounds.
Ultrasounds should not be used unless medically necessary. It’s common to want keepsake ultrasounds because it is frustratingly hard to wait to see baby until they are here! Those ultrasound pictures are keepsakes for a lifetime. That being said, one set of photos or two is plenty. You can see a lot of features on those early ultrasounds and it can be tempting to want more images. The only ultrasounds that have been shown medically necessary or helpful are the early dating ultrasounds at 8-10 weeks and the 20 week anatomical screen. Prenatal ultrasounds help care providers ensure the well being of baby and mama. They are integral. The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine discourages ultrasound use for keepsake purposes and deems it recreational use of a medical device.
The Trans vaginal scan is usually the first you will come across when preparing for pregnancy or the first scan of your pregnancy. It is a vaginal probe inserted into the vagina. It collects very specific information of placement of the embryo, placement of the ovaries, and a detailed scan of how your uterus is presenting. The process is simple and involves lubrication of the device, it is inserted into the vagina, and the sound waves bounce off bones and tissue then return to the wand and produce images of internal. Preparation includes wearing a gown, laying on your back and the rest is all about relaxing. If you are at all nervous or uncomfortable with this kind of process, please talk to your care provider and even request if they could be in the room with you! It is not uncommon to have hesitations about the experience so please be open and honest with your care provider.
Standard ultrasounds are performed with the transducer or wand over the top of the abdomen. This is a 2-D scan of your baby. It can be done during your pregnancy to get accurate readings about your baby’s anatomy and growth. This should only really happen one time around your 20 week point in pregnancy. You have the right as a woman to deny any ultrasounds that you feel are unnecessary. There may be reasons that your care provider suggest the scan to be done; please ask all the questions you can and do your research through peer reviewed sources. Find a care provider that you trust and know why you trust them.
Advanced ultrasounds are the same as standard ultrasounds but they are use to target worry areas. It targets suspected problems with the anatomy of your baby, with your own anatomy, and problems with the placenta as well. The equipment that is used is slightly different as in it is more sophisticated.
3D Ultrasounds can seem really cool to do but there is really no medical reason to follow this procedure. Infrequently it is used for a very clear check of external anatomy but in our society, it is used for the fun of seeing a very clear image of baby’s face. The research is inconclusive as to whether repeated ultrasounds are detrimental to the health of you and your baby.
According to a Meta-Analysis done by the Cochrane Library, “Long-term follow-up of children exposed to scan in utero does not indicate that scans have a detrimental effect on children’s physical or cognitive development.” Early ultrasounds and the 20 week ultrasounds that are performed are concluded to be safe for mothers and babies.
Fetal Echocardiography is an ultrasound that assesses your baby’s heart functioning and anatomy. This can be helpful if there is any indication that there might be heart problems which are usually fine to see in utero (when baby is still in your tummy) but they will have to be immediately assessed and usually operated on when baby comes into the world.
Keep in mind that when your care provider strongly suggests that you get an ultrasound for your health or your baby, ask as many questions as you can and please listen to your heart. On another hand, if you know your cycle and your conception date, then go with it. Those early dating ultrasounds are very helpful, they might not be 100% accurate if you know your body better than the ultrasound does. In a study from the American Journal of Obstetric and Gynecology, a woman’s last normal menstrual period exceeded the ultrasound scan estimate much more than the accuracy of the ultrasound date. The average birthing date for a first time mother is 41 weeks which is one week past the due date given by the early dating ultrasound (trans vaginal scan).
Every mother has incredible intuition when it comes to her body and her baby. Listen to that intuition and that voice. If something feels off then ask to look into it. When you think you are uncomfortable with a procedure, remember that your body belongs to you, you have the right to refuse any procedure, you also have to find a care provider that you trust. Take care of yourselves, Happy mama Mode!