Most people choose to have at least one ultrasound during their pregnancy. Of course, you may just want to know if you are having a boy or a girl or if there are maybe two babies in there! However, there are many other good reasons you may want to have an ultrasound.
Many women are unsure of their last menstrual period or have had irregular cycles. Ultrasounds done before 14 weeks are very good at determining an accurate due date. In fact, most babies that are "overdue" actually just had an inaccurate due date. Lots of research shows that an early ultrasound is the best way to prevent an overdue baby.
If you are having early pregnancy bleeding or we are unable to hear a fetal heart beat with a doppler, ultrasound can provide immediate reassurance or clear answers about viability.
Between 19-22 weeks is the ideal time to look at the different body structures of the developing baby. The sonographer is able to view brain structures, look for a cleft lip or palate, examine the heart and major blood vessels, look at abdominal contents including the appropriate closure of the abdominal wall and spine, checking to make sure all the arms and legs are there and making sure the kidneys are present and functioning.
Another very important thing that is looked at is the placement of the placenta and measurement of the baby. Although this is not the best time to use baby size to determine a due date, it will still help us know if we are far off. Ultrasound is not perfect, but it is a fairly accurate, non-invasive way to rule out many major problems.
Later in pregnancy a biophysical profiles can be done to confirm fetal well being. This test is a combination of ultrasound measurement of amniotic fluid levels, fetal movements and a non-stress test.
Limited ultrasounds are performed by either a midwife or a certified technician and then evaluated by the midwife. All of the fetal anatomic surveys (20 week ultrasounds) are performed by the technician and then interpreted by a radiologist. You are not charged a separate fee for the radiologist services. Our technician has been performing medical ultrasound both in the hospital and clinic setting for more than 25 years. He is very skilled and knowledgeable with extensive experience in obstetric ultrasound.
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