During your first pregnancy, your doctor will order several tests to help determine the health of your baby and yourself as your pregnancy progresses. One of the key procedures is the anatomy scan ultrasound, which helps the doctor to get a close look at your baby's development. Here's what you can expect during the procedure and what the ultrasound can tell you about your growing baby.
When you arrive for your appointment, you probably will not need to change into different clothing. Just make sure you are wearing something that makes it easy for the technician to reach your belly, like pants and a shirt instead of a dress.
The technician spends most of the ultrasound time taking measurements. They measure how long your baby's bones are, which helps indicate and confirm the estimated due date. They will also measure the size of the head, how big the abdomen is, and even look at facial features and organ sizes. Measurements are one of the easier ways to rule out some medical conditions that can be diagnosed before birth. For example, when a baby's femur measures small, it's a sign of skeletal dysplasia.
Heart and Blood Flow Assessment
Another significant portion of time during the ultrasound is spent checking the fetal heart structure, heartbeat, and blood flow to the rest of the body. The technician will also check the location of the placenta, the structure of the umbilical cord, and blood flow from mother to baby.
Checking the heart structure is important because fetal heart defects can show up at this stage in development and tell your doctor a lot about what might be indicated because of any defects present. Heart defects can sometimes be caused by irregular chromosomal development, which necessitates the need to test for conditions like Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, or trisomy 18.
The location of the placenta and the cord structure are also important because if a placenta is low lying or covering the cervix, a vaginal birth may not be possible for a mother. Irregular cord structure also increases the risk of complications, so your doctor needs to know in order to determine how much monitoring you need before and during delivery.
Finally, you can learn if your baby is a boy or girl in your ultrasound, but only if you want to find out! Just let your technician know that you don't want to know the sex in order to keep yourself in the dark.
Just keep in mind that while your technician does the imaging, a doctor has to read the images before giving you any diagnosis concerning your baby.
Reach out to a prenatal imaging center to learn more.