In order to monitor the condition of the mother and fetus, pregnant women need to do an ultrasound. Contrary to the popular belief that thinks ultrasound is done only to find out the sex of the fetus, it has some other benefits other than that. As a pregnant woman, you may be wondering how many times you should do an ultrasound and the right time to do that.
How many times do pregnant women have to do an ultrasound?
Ultrasound refers to a test using high-frequency sound waves to get an overview of the condition of the fetus, placenta and reproductive organs of pregnant women. There are two kinds of ultrasound performed on pregnant women: transvaginal ultrasound and abdominal ultrasound. The first one is generally done early in pregnancy. As for the second one, it is done later, at a later gestational age.
Ultrasound during pregnancy is really important for the health of both mother and fetus. Apart from determining the weight and sex of the fetus, it is also to show the development of the fetus and detect the risk of health issues for both the mother and fetus.
How many times should you have an ultrasound during pregnancy? It is better for a pregnant woman to do an ultrasound at least 2-3 times during pregnancy. Examinations are carried out in the first, second, and third trimesters in order to observe different indicators of fetal development.
When Do Pregnant Women Start Doing Ultrasound Checks?
After finding out you should ideally do an ultrasound, now it is time for you to find out the right time to do this test. For those who are wondering when the right time to do an ultrasound is, the answer to the question is actually any time. The reason is because examinations at every gestational age have different uses. Check out the differences below:
1. First Trimester (Weeks 1-12)
At the beginning of the first trimester, ultrasound is usually done by the transvaginal method. the goals include:
- Confirm pregnancy
- Know the fetal heart rate
- Detect multiple pregnancies
- Detect abnormal growth in the fetus
- Determine whether the pregnancy occurred inside or outside the uterus
- Detect the risk of preterm pregnancy and miscarriage
- Perform first trimester screening
2. Second Trimester (Weeks 12-27)
During the second trimester, ultrasound can be done with the abdominal ultrasound method. The main benefit of it is to get an overview of fetal development with some indicators, such as:
- Know the completeness of vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain structure
- Determine the sex of the fetus
- Confirmation of multiple pregnancies
- Monitor the amount of amniotic fluid
- Detect problems with the placenta
- Know the blood flow of the fetal body
3. Third Trimester (Weeks 24-40)
In the third trimester of pregnancy, ultrasound focuses on fetal growth and readiness for childbirth. There are some benefits of this inspection, such as:
- Know the position of the fetus in the uterus (normal, oblique or breech)
- Detect the function of the placenta before delivery
- Detect defects in the fetus
- Predict the day of birth
- Know whether the fetus is still at home in the womb or should be born soon
If you are a pregnant woman, you should get an ultrasound test. However, it is important for you to do it at the right time. If you want to find out the sex of the fetus, an ultrasound in the early trimester definitely cannot answer this with certainty. Basically, you will have to wait until the reproduction organs of the fetus can be seen clearly, which is usually in the second trimester. If you do it at the right time, you can get the benefit of the ultrasound for your health and the fetus will be more optimal.
Which is better, 2D, 3D, or 4D Ultrasound?
One of the misconceptions about ultrasound is that 3 or 4-dimensional ultrasound gives the clearest ultrasound images. In fact, 2D ultrasound is the main and the best modality in assessing the condition of the baby in the womb. As for the 3D and 4D ultrasound, you will only be able to see the surface parts of the body of the fetus, including the face, hands, and feet.
What Should Be Done If Abnormalities Are Detected During Ultrasound?
Aside from being useful for determining the sex and weight of the baby, ultrasound during pregnancy is also important to detect abnormalities and diseases early. While abnormalities in the body shape of the fetus such as a leaking heart or cleft lip cannot be treated before the body is born, doctors will be able to carry out further evaluations to detect other syndrome disorders. In case there are abnormalities related to organ function or the risk of preterm birth, the doctor can help reduce the risk and find out the cause. Besides, it is also possible for you to undergo a series of follow-up examinations.
Is Pregnancy Ultrasound Safe for Mother and Fetus?
Both transvaginal and abdominal ultrasound are very safe for the mother and fetus as long as they fulfill two conditions. There are a few conditions that must be met for an ultrasound during pregnancy so that everything can be safe and effective. These conditions include:
1. Ultrasound Equipment Must Meet Health Standards
The ultrasound equipment must be arranged in such a way that its thermal index and mechanical index are safe for the condition of the mother and fetus. In order to avoid the effects of continuous sound waves, the duration of the examination should also not exceed 30 minutes.
2. Must Be Performed by Competent Medical Personnel
The second condition is that the practitioner who performs the ultrasound must be a competent medical professional with the ability to observe the condition of the fetus and mother’s reproductive organs so that the results of the examination are more accurate. For ultrasound, it is better for you to consult directly with an obstetrician.