The first, early pregnancy ultrasound scan gets conducted between the 13 to 16 weeks of pregnancy. The transabdominal ultrasound is prevalent in pregnancy ultrasound scans.
For many pregnant women, after eight weeks gestation, enough information about the fetus can be obtained by performing a transabdominal ultrasound only. However, in the initial stage of pregnancy, the developing embryo is very tiny. After six weeks gestation the size of the baby will be around 5-9 mm long. At this stage, a transvaginal ultrasound may be offered to get a clear view of the baby.
Transvaginal ultrasounds are known to be quite safe and commonly performed throughout all stages of pregnancy.
Transabdominal ultrasound: The process involves scanning through your lower abdomen. The sonographer applies a small amount of gel to the skin of your lower abdomen, with the ultrasound probe and then examining it through the gel. This gel helps improve the contact between the probe and your belly skin.
Transvaginal ultrasound: It's an internal ultrasound that involves a scan with ultrasound probe lying in the vagina. It's believed that transvaginal ultrasounds produce clear and better images of the female pelvic organs. Also, it includes the developing pregnancy as the probe lies closer to these structures.
Is a full bladder required for an ultrasound?
If the bladder is partially full, the sonographer will get better images while performing a transabdominal ultrasound. Then, you'll be asked to drink water to help your examination.
In an ideal world, you should empty your bladder 1 hour before your appointment. Drink two glasses of water, and do not drain your bladder again until your examination is over.
A bladder full of water helps move bowel out from the pelvis into the abdomen, helping easy visualization of the uterus and ovaries.
Why do I need a First Trimester ultrasound scan?
Your doctor will ask you for the ultrasound for the following reasons:
To confirm the presence of heartbeats of your baby:
It might be your vaginal bleeding, or you may have been anxious about complications in a previous pregnancy. The transabdominal ultrasound can routinely detect the heartbeats of your baby.
To confirm the accurate date of your pregnancy:
Some pregnant women miss their last menstrual cycle (LMP) or have irregular menstrual cycles. It makes it difficult for the doctor to determine when the baby is due.
An early pregnancy scan can accurately provide an estimated date of confinement (EDC) to within 3-5 days.
Generally speaking, if you go for an early pregnancy scan, it will help you get a more accurate time of your due date. However, a few technical factors such as the quality of images of your ultrasound and the expertise of the sonographer can affect the accuracy.
To confirm the location of your pregnancy:
Your OB may have concerns that your pregnancy is developing in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy).Your first ultrasound can tell if your pregnancy is naturally developing within the uterus.
To confirm the number of the babies present:
If your pregnancy has been conceived using IVF or clomiphene, you have a family history of twins, you are dealing with severe morning sickness, or your uterus seems to enlarged than expected, your doctor might be concerned about you giving birth to more than one baby, for instance, twins or triplets. Early pregnancy scans can determine the number of the babies, and the types of babies as well.
To identify pregnancies that can be at an increased risk of miscarriage or pregnancy loss:
The first ultrasound can help your doctor detect changes in early pregnancy that are concerning and linked to an increased risk of miscarriage or pregnancy loss, such as a small or irregular pregnancy sac, or a slower heart rate of the baby. Anomalies like these may not be present always as it's believed that pregnancies with such changes may continue without complications over a few subsequent months.
To Check other female pelvic organs:
Your doctor may want to assess things in your pelvis apart from your pregnancy such as ovaries and the uterus.
Along with the advancements in ultrasound technologies, a few innovative services have come into the market. Now, you can preserve and save cherishing memories of your pregnancy. BabyFlix has come up with Ultrasound DVD connect which allows parents to save and share their pregnancy DVD in a safe and compliant way.
The sonographer that'll perform your ultrasound must be schooled in obstetrical ultrasound. Moreover, experts recommend that people should avoid getting 3D and 4D (moving picture) ultrasound scans at fetal portrait studios at places like shopping malls. They can be untrained personnel that may provide you with inaccurate information.