An obstetric ultrasound, also known as prenatal ultrasound, is typically performed before 13 weeks and 6 days (first trimester) of pregnancy. This is done to confirm the pregnancy. If you suffer from pelvic pain or vaginal bleeding during this time, the ultrasound can check if
- You have developed pregnancy outside the uterus, such as the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy)
- The heart activity of the baby is okay
- There has been as abortion
- If you have any abnormal growths, such as fibroids in your uterus
The next ultrasound is routinely done for all women in the 20th (second trimester) week of pregnancy. This is to check
- If the baby has any anatomical (physical) defect
- The baby’s weight
- The baby’s heart rate
- The amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus
- The status of your cervix (whether it is incompetent or has shortened early)
- The progression of uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts, if any
- If you have multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, or more)
- The sex of the baby (only if you wish to know)
The due date is calculated from the last date of your periods. If you do not remember the last date of your periods, the doctor can perform an ultrasound any time before the 20th week to determine your due date.
The doctor can perform an obstetric anytime during the pregnancy when they need to monitor your pregnancy and the health of the baby or observe the effect of ongoing treatment for any of your conditions, such as polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid in the uterus).
What is done before the obstetric ultrasound?
There are no special precautions that you need to take before coming for the ultrasound. You might be asked to drink water up to six glasses or until you feel like peeing. You would not be allowed to go to the washroom before you get your ultrasound done. Your full bladder helps the doctor to visualize your baby more clearly.
How is an obstetric ultrasound performed?
You will be asked to rest on your back.
A small quantity of a clear, lubricant gel will be applied to your abdomen.
Next, the doctor will move a small device (called a transducer) over your abdomen while applying a little pressure. They can also use a tubular probe into your vagina that functions similar to the transducer.
You may be asked to hold your breaths several times during the procedure.
The transducer emits high-frequency sound waves to the internal structures, including your uterus, its surrounding organs/structures, and your baby. These sound waves are reflected and captured by the transducer. The transducer then displays the captured waves onto the screen in the form of white and black images. Your doctor can help you see your baby in the images.
Getting an obstetric ultrasound is a very simple, safe, and painless test that takes around 30 minutes. You will only feel minimal discomfort due to the pressure of the transducer on your abdomen.
What happens after the obstetric ultrasound?
The gel will be cleaned from your abdomen and allowed to go home as soon as the test ends. You will need to collect the reports during which the doctor will discuss the results of the test with you.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Pregnancy: Prenatal Ultrasonography. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/9704-pregnancy-prenatal-ultrasonography/
Top When Should You Have an Obstetric Ultrasound? Related Articles
Pregnancy SymptomsWhat are the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy? Can you know before your missed period? Read about nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), bloating, tender breasts, and more. Explore first trimester symptoms of pregnancy and learn what week pregnancy symptoms start.
Am I Pregnant QuizWhat are early pregnancy symptoms? In some women, symptoms range from a missed period to feeling lightheaded. Others may experience typical "morning sickness" and food cravings. Could you be pregnant? Take the quiz!
Endoscopic UltrasoundEndoscopic ultrasound (EUS) uses ultrasound and endoscopy to take pictures of the digestive tract and the surrounding tissues and organs. EUS may be useful in making several medical determinations, including:
- staging of cancers of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas and rectum,
- staging of lung cancer,
- evaluating chronic pancreatitis,
- studying gallstones and tumors in the bile duct, gallbladder, and liver,
- evaluating reasons for fecal incontinence,
- and studying submucosal lesions.
- drug reactions,
- and a lump in the skin where the IV was placed.
How Do You Do an Obstetric Ultrasound?Cervical cryotherapy is a medical procedure that involves freezing and destroying the abnormal tissue in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus). The procedure may cause some discomfort. Women report some cramping or pressure and a sensation of cold in the vaginal area. Some women do not feel any discomfort or pain during the procedure. It is generally a relatively painless procedure with little or no scarring in the area treated.
How Soon Can I Take A Pregnancy Test?You may take a pregnancy test as soon as you miss a period or if your period is late. You would know the date of your missed period if your periods are regular. It is recommended to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible if you miss your period or think you might be pregnant.
PMS vs. Pregnancy (Differences and Similarities)Many women have difficulty figuring out if they are pregnant, have PMS, or are about to start their period. The most common signs and symptoms of early pregnancy, PMS, and the start of your period include mood swings, back pain, increased urination, and tender breasts. These three conditions also share other similar signs and symptoms, but there are unique differences between each. Moreover, there are symptoms that only occur if you are pregnant. Early pregnancy symptoms, PMS, and the start of the menstrual period all have common signs and symptoms like mood swings, back pain, and breast pain. Symptoms and signs between the three conditions that may seem similar, but are slightly different include the following: Pelvic or abdominal cramping before or during your menstrual period is normal; however, the cramping of early pregnancy is mild. If you are pregnant, nausea and vomiting, or morning sickness, is common. They are not common symptoms of PMS. Fatigue is common in both, but PMS usually goes away once your period begins. Food cravings or aversions to certain foods are common in both pregnancy and PMS, but if you are pregnant, the cravings or aversions to foods are more specific and intense. You may have spotting or bleeding if you are pregnant or suffering from PMS. When the embryo inserts itself into the uterus (implantation bleeding), you may mistake it as your menstrual period. However, implantation bleeding is much lighter (not enough to soak a pad or tampon) than the heaving bleeding experienced at the beginning of your period. Signs and symptoms that you may have only if you are pregnant include, implantation cramping and bleeding, a white, milky vaginal discharge, and your areolas or nipples darken. The only way to find out if you are pregnant is with a pregnancy test. Home pregnancy test kits are available without a prescription at pharmacies and most grocery stores. Contact a doctor or other health care professional if you think you may be pregnant.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy Myths and Facts QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this pregnancy myths and facts quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)When a woman is pregnant, she needs more vitamins, minerals, and other foods in her diet to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy diet menu plan should consist of lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats (unless you are vegan or vegetarian), and dairy. Examples of healthy pregnancy diet meal plans include holistic pregnancy diet, vegan or vegetarian diet, and low-carb diets. Begin your healthy eating plan around three months before you begin trying to conceive, and follow the same eating plan until after you have stopped breastfeeding. If you are overweight or obese, being pregnant is not the right time to try to lose weight. Discuss your options with your health care professional.
Stages of Pregnancy: Week by WeekSee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
UltrasoundUltrasound (and ultrasonography) is imaging of the body used in the medical diagnosis and screening of diseases and conditions such as:
- heart valve irregularities,
- carotid artery disease,
- heart disease,
- kidney stones,
- liver disease,
- diseases of the female reproductive, and
- diseases of the male reproductive organs.
What Is a Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound?An obstetric ultrasound or sonography is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of a baby inside the mother’s womb. It also shows pictures of the mother's uterus and ovaries. An obstetric ultrasound is an important part of ante-natal (before the delivery of the baby) care.
What Is the Principle of Ultrasonography?Ultrasound devices send ultrasonic soundwaves through tissue. The device measures how long the waves take to “echo” or return to the device, much like SONAR used by submarines. The programming in the device uses that data to assemble an image nearly in real time; different densities of tissue show up as different concentrations of lighted pixels on the screen, allowing doctors to map the internal structure of the organ or tissue.
When Should I Have My First Pregnancy Ultrasound?The first pregnancy ultrasound is usually done within the first trimester, in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.