Most pregnant women will have an ultrasound at some point during their pregnancy. Many doctors schedule a routine ultrasound at around the 20th week of pregnancy. At this point, the ultrasound technician can get great views of the growing baby and examine all the organs and measure the size. This ultrasound is also a very exciting time for the expectant parents as the first glimpse of their growing baby can be seen clearly. Little preparation is needed for this ultrasound exam and the procedure is fairly simple. I’ll cover what to expect before, during and after your first prenatal ultrasound in this article.
Many ultrasound technicians prefer to schedule prenatal ultrasounds in the morning. You can however, schedule the ultrasound at the best time for your schedule. Morning is usually a bit slower for the technicians, so they can take a longer time to ensure proper measurements and photos of the growing baby.
For early pregnancy ultrasounds you will be instructed to drink four 8 ounce glasses of water in the 4 hours prior to the ultrasound exam. This will fill your bladder and lift the baby and your uterus away from your pelvis. A full bladder is obviously very uncomfortable during pregnancy, but remember that this will allow the ultrasound technician to get some great views of your growing baby.
When you arrive at the ultrasound location, you may or may not be asked to fill out a questionnaire. Some technicians like a little information about the mother before completing the ultrasound. Simple questions like: is this your first baby, how far along you believe you are, estimated due date, and estimated date of conception, and several other questions may all be asked on the questionnaire.
Once the ultrasound technician calls you back to their room, you may be given a gown to change into. Many technicians will just ask you to lower your pants and lift your shirt over your belly to scan your stomach.
The technician will first place some jelly-like fluid onto your stomach. This helps the sound waves to be clearer and get a better picture of the baby inside. Many ultrasound machines have a built in warmer for this gel so that it is nice and warm on your stomach.
Now the exam can begin. The technician usually does all their organ measurements first. They will look for the heart, measure it as well as measure the heartbeat rhythm. You will be able to see the 4 chambers of the heart easily and the technician will measure them all. They will do the stomach, liver, kidneys and even try to determine the sex of the baby if you prefer.
After all the organs have been checked, the ultrasound technician will then measure the bones. They measure the skull, femur, humerus and many other bones to determine due date and continuity amongst all the parts of the baby.
If your clinic offers a 4-D ultrasound, the tech may turn that on after measurements are complete so that you can watch the baby move. These 4-D ultrasounds are simply amazing! You can see the baby so clearly and can often see facial development very distinctly.
The ultrasound technician will probably try to print a few pictures of the baby for you to take home. These are very momentous as they are the first portraits of a lifetime to come of picture taking. Some clinics may even provide a small picture frame that is the perfect size for the ultrasound portrait!
After the ultrasound exam is complete, you can wipe all the gel off your stomach and redress if you need to. You can then visit the restroom and empty that bladder that has been feeling so full the entire exam!
Many clinics will ask you to complete a survey of how the ultrasound exam experience was for you. Simple questions may be asked to provide an exceptional level of service to all who participate in the prenatal ultrasound.
After all is said and done, you can go home and look at the first picture of your baby. Many expectant parents show this photo to family and friends and may even announce the sex or name of the baby! The prenatal ultrasound exam is so simple and so much fun!