The initial pregnancy ultrasound is special. It offers the first close-up glimpse of the baby and the sound of its heart beats. You can also know about number of foetuses, fetal growth, due date and anomalies related to the uterus or ovary. It is usually performed around 9th to 12th week into pregnancy.
In general, 98 out of 100 women deliver healthy children, but ultrasound exams are still quite crucial to rule out problems and confirm the viability of the pregnancy. If you are to appear for your first scan, here’s all you can expect out of it.
The main purpose of the first transvaginal ultrasound scan is to confirm your pregnancy and gestation age. This further helps to determine and track different milestones throughout the term. The accurate date of pregnancy is important to avoid wrong diagnosis of issues. These include insufficient growth, ectopic pregnancy or a possibility of miscarriage.
The child’s heartbeat, presence of yolk sac and fetal pole, genetic defects and the length and head diameter can be determined in the first ultrasound scan. The doctors also check if the egg cells are growing in the womb and have rightly developed into an embryo. This is crucial to rule out any chances of abnormal pregnancy location. The general well-being and development of the baby can also be monitored with ultrasound scans.
The first ultrasound imaging will detect any birth disorders like cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, trisomy 18, brain and spine problems. Most defects are related to chromosomal disorders or the baby’s heart. This screening is usually accompanied by a blood test of the mother for accurate results.
Procedure of the Ultrasound – What to ExpectFor the first scan, a handheld ultrasound device called transducer; which is shaped like a wand, is placed in the vagina. This helps the doctor to check the uterus through the cervix. Transvaginal ultrasound is the best option for the first pregnancy since the fetus is located deep inside the pelvis. Also, the birth canal is extremely small with the fallopian tubes nearby.
The wand is covered with a sheath and a slimy gel is applied. The doctor then pushes it inside the vagina, to get the desired picture with high frequency sound waves. It can also be used in the later stages to measure the cervix length or check the placenta location.
This process does not hurt and is safe for both mother and child. But, if the gel is not warm, you might experience a cold sensation on the skin.
How you Prepare for your First Scan
Keep a full bladder since the sound waves appear better in fluids. But for a trans-vaginal ultrasound, you may be asked to empty your bladder. Wear comfortable clothing, preferably a two piece, so that the belly is easily accessible. Stay relaxed. Lastly, do not expect or pressurize the doctors for a gender reveal during the scans.
Ultrasounds are a crucial part of the prenatal care. Make sure to coordinate well with your gynecologist to ensure a healthy growing baby.