A prenatal ultrasound is an essential part of the first trimester for expecting parents and families. It helps to confirm the pregnancy, provides an estimated gestation, and provides invaluable information about the unborn baby's health and development in the early days. Here, we explore what to expect during your first prenatal ultrasound so that you're prepared to start your pregnancy off on the right foot.
Before the ultrasound appointment, an overseeing care provider will discuss the procedure in detail to explain what you can expect. They will also open the floor for questions. It is common for providers to suggest that patients wear comfortable clothing and remove any jewelry to make the process easier for everyone.
The Ultrasound Procedure
The ultrasound is conducted in a dark room while you lie on an examination table. The technician will apply a clear gel to your abdomen area, then use a transducer to send sound waves through your abdominal area. The sound waves will produce detailed images of the baby in your womb, which will be displayed on a video monitor.
Depending on the type of ultrasound, you may also hear your baby's heartbeat. However, it's essential to note that the first prenatal ultrasound may not include the fetal heartbeat, depending on gestation and viability. You can typically expect the first heartbeat sounds between 10 and 12 weeks gestation.
During Your Ultrasound
During the ultrasound, your technician will look for any potential abnormalities and assess the baby's growth. Each day and week in the first trimester, the fetus is rapidly growing, so each measurement and view helps providers understand overall fetal health markers.
The technician will also measure the baby's head, stomach, and femur (thigh bone) to track growth progress. Sometimes, ultrasound techs will check for any genetic anomalies or birth defects, but gestational age will play a role in these outcomes.
After Your Ultrasound
After the ultrasound is complete, you will be given a report that outlines all the findings from your exam. Your doctor will discuss the results with you and answer any questions that you may have. Because it's the first prenatal ultrasound, you can typically expect to go home with a confirmation ultrasound image as a keepsake. You can also expect them to schedule your next appointment for an appropriate date and time per your specific health demands.
Benefits of a Prenatal Ultrasound
Prenatal ultrasound exams can provide important information for both expectant parents and their physicians. They help confirm or understand the due date, monitor the baby's growth and developmental progress, and check for any potential complications throughout the pregnancy. Ultrasounds can also provide a first glimpse of the unborn baby and help parents build an emotional connection with their future child.
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