That first positive pregnancy test should send you to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN. One of the things that you can expect will happen at least a couple of times through your pregnancy is an ultrasound. While these tests may seem simple, they are important for assessing the health and development of your baby. Here are some of the things that an ultrasound is used to determine.
In the earliest stages of pregnancy, in particular, it's easy to determine gestational age based on an ultrasound. The development and size measurements of the ultrasound in those first few months of pregnancy can pinpoint gestational age with surprising accuracy. This is an ideal technique for those with irregular, inconsistent, or unpredictable menstrual cycles that make it harder to determine the date of conception based on the last menstrual period date.
By approximately the sixth week of pregnancy, your baby's heartbeat can be monitored through ultrasound. The heartbeat is visible on the ultrasound monitor with color contrast, and it can be heard through the audio system. The first time hearing the baby's heartbeat can be an emotional moment for expectant parents. Not only that, but providers will monitor the baby's heartbeat and assess the heart rate as an indication of the baby's stress levels and condition in the womb.
About halfway through the pregnancy, the baby has developed enough that the care provider can typically determine gender on the scan. Sometimes, it takes a couple of ultrasounds to get a clear picture of the gender depending on the baby's position and activity level. It's often recommended that pregnant women drink a small glass of juice just before their scan if they want an active baby on the scan that's easier for gender determination.
During that mid-point scan, along with determining the gender if you have decided to find out, the baby is also measured and evaluated for some potential developmental concerns. At this gestational age, some birth defects, deformities, and developmental issues may be visibly apparent on the scan, and these concerns are often discussed in a follow-up appointment, with referrals for more testing if necessary.
These are some of the many benefits of ultrasound testing during your pregnancy. Talk with your OB/GYN today about the ultrasounds needed in your case, including whether or not you wish to know the gender of your baby in advance. Some families still prefer to keep this a surprise, while others want a gender reveal with the information provided to a close friend instead of to them.
For more information, contact an ultrasound service such as Hope Pregnancy Center.