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What is an ultrasound? and what is it for

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Performing the first ultrasound is one of the most anticipated moments by mothers and fathers, since it allows them to see and hear the fetus for the first time, which is of great importance on an emotional level. However, the primary function of ultrasound is the option of monitoring the fetus , monitoring its development, and detecting the presence of any abnormalities in pregnancy.

Generally, three ultrasounds are performed throughout the pregnancy, although on certain occasions it may be necessary to carry out more. As it is a simple technique without radiation or exposure, it is completely safe for both mother and baby. In this FastlyHealarticle we explain everything you need to know about ultrasound in pregnancy .

What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique that works using ultrasound waves and allows the development of the fetus to be visualized inside the mother’s uterus. These waves act by colliding with the various tissues that make up the human body, such as skin, fat, muscle or bone; later they are collected by the same probe that emits them, analyzed and presented in the form of images on the screen. This process is possible thanks to the action of the well-known gel that is applied directly to the mother’s belly and that works as a transmitter.

The most traditional ultrasound is two-dimensional (2D) , but currently the 3D modality is also used, which offers volumetric images, and in 4D, through which the movement of the fetus can be seen in real time.

What is ultrasound for?

Thanks to this process it is possible to study the growth of the baby in the womb and check its well-being. By means of ultrasound, characteristics of the fetus such as its position, gestational age, its weight, the state of the placenta or the amount of amniotic fluid available can be determined. However, the importance of this procedure lies in the possibility of detecting any abnormality, malformation or pathology in the baby and even fetal death.

Sometimes, before starting the three routine ultrasounds, a previous one is done in the first weeks to confirm that there is a pregnancy. This is often usually a vaginal ultrasound , since the fetus is too small.

First ultrasound: week 11-14

On certain occasions, this first ultrasound is used to confirm pregnancy . It is time to determine the gestation time, observe if there is more than one embryo, measure the size of the embryo and check the correct implantation, in addition to performing the nuchal fold test, a marker of suspicion of Down and Edwards syndrome.

Nowadays, thanks to improved technology and experience, fetal structures can be seen, allowing the discovery of certain early abnormalities if they exist. In addition, it is used to also analyze the mother’s reproductive system, thus ruling out uterine or ovarian problems.

Second ultrasound: week 20

Also called morphological ultrasound , it allows the fetus to be studied in greater detail thanks to the growth, the development of the organs and the existence of an optimal amount of amniotic fluid, essential in this procedure. It is considered the most important ultrasound of pregnancy and allows to corroborate the correct development of the baby, assess the heartbeat and its movements, control the functioning of the placenta and exhaustively study the fetal anatomy to look for any alteration. If your position allows it, the sex of the baby may be known.

Third ultrasound: week 32-36

It is the last ultrasound before the baby is born , so the objective of it is to obtain information regarding the development of labor. On this occasion, not only the placental location, the amount of amniotic fluid and the well-being of the fetus are determined, but also the position inside the uterus is checked, so that a forecast of future difficulties in the delivery, this ultrasound can also detect certain late-onset abnormalities. With the same objective, sometimes a posteriori decision is made to carry out so-called Doppler studies , which analyze blood flow and diagnose other pathologies.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Ultrasound in pregnancy , we recommend that you enter our Pregnancy and baby health category .

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