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Prenatal Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a common prenatal procedure used even in low-risk pregnancies to confirm your due date or assess your baby’s health.

The ultrasound checks the:

  • Rate of growth

  • Position

  • Movement

  • Breathing

  • Heart rate

  • Placement of the placenta

  • Amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus

  • Number of fetuses

An ultrasound might also find certain birth defects. If there are any concerns that your baby may be at risk, ultrasound can help provide the information your health care provider needs to give you the best possible prenatal care.

Pregnant woman lying on exam table with part of her belly exposed. Health care provider is holding ultrasound transducer to woman's belly and looking at monitor. Gel is spread on woman's belly.
The transducer sends out sound waves and listens for their echo.

Black and white ultrasound view of baby inside uterus.
Harmless sound waves create an image of the uterus and baby.

Using Sound to See Your Baby

During ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves pass through your body and your baby. You can’t hear the sound waves, but the ultrasound equipment can. It converts them to a visual image on a monitor, allowing you and your health care provider to “see” the baby inside your uterus.

During Abdominal Ultrasound

While you lie down on the examination table, a layer of gel is applied to your abdomen so the sound waves more easily reach your baby. Then the transducer is slowly moved back and forth over your abdomen. The procedure is painless and takes less than half an hour.

During Vaginal Ultrasound

The transducer is covered with a condom or other sterile latex shield. Then it is inserted, like a tampon, into your vagina. You should have little discomfort during the test, which usually takes less than half an hour to complete.

A Special Note

Before the test, you may be asked to drink liquids so you have a full bladder. This may cause temporary discomfort, but gives a “landmark” to locate your uterus. It also helps make the image clearer.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 10/1/2014
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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