You'll be hopping and skipping to this doctor's appointment -- most women agree that an ultrasound is the one prenatal test they enjoy. An ultrasound is a painless diagnostic test that relies on sound waves, and most women will have at least one during pregnancy.
When is a dating scan necessary?
Your first ultrasound will typically be done between 18 and 20 weeks, but you may have one before 12 weeks to confirm your due date. You may also have an earlier ultrasound -- or more than one -- if yours is a high-risk pregnancy, if you have any pain or bleeding, if you have a history of having children with birth defects, or if another prenatal test or exam shows something abnormal.
In addition, you'll have additional ultrasounds if you have a chronic illness such as diabetes or a history of ovarian cysts or fibroids. An ultrasound usually can be done in your practitioner's office or your local hospital. You will be asked to lie on your back while a technician rubs a warm gel on your belly.
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The gel allows the transducer a handheld device that looks like a microphone to slide more easily over your belly and improves the transmission of sound waves into your body. The sound waves bounce off various surfaces within your body -- including your baby -- as vibrations. The echoes are translated into electrical signals that are projected as pictures onto a monitor for viewing.
At weeks gestation, your baby is growing bigger and now measures mm long. From now until the end of the first trimester, the embryo will be measured from one end to the other, called the crown-rump-length or CRL. At weeks gestation, your baby continues to change appearance as it grows and develops. By 8 weeks gestation, your baby can usually be seen with transabdominal ultrasound. By weeks gestation, the embryo is clearly recognisable as a baby with a body, head, arms and legs, as well as many other identifiable features. Your baby may be moving around the pregnancy sac.
Many parents are amazed at the detail that can be seen even at this early stage of the pregnancy. First trimester ultrasound is performed in the first months of a pregnancy. Pregnancy ultrasounds are performed mainly using transabdominal ultrasound.
First Trimester / Dating Ultrasound | Advanced Women's Imaging
Not all women need to have an ultrasound in this early part of the pregnancy. Your doctor may request this ultrasound for a number of reasons, including: You may have gone to your doctor with vaginal bleeding or you may be anxious because of problems in a previous pregnancy such as miscarriage. This ultrasound can routinely detect a heartbeat in your baby as early as weeks. Confirming the correct dates of your pregnancy.
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Some women are uncertain of their last menstrual period LMP or have irregular menstrual cycles, making it difficult for their doctor to correctly estimate when the baby is due. Establishing accurate dates can be important, especially if there are concerns about your baby later in the pregnancy for example, if the baby is not growing well. An ultrasound in the first trimester can give an accurate estimated date of confinement EDC to within days.
Confirming the location of your pregnancy. Your doctor may have concerns that your pregnancy is located in the fallopian tube ectopic pregnancy. This ultrasound will check if your pregnancy is developing normally within the uterus. Determining the number of babies present. Your doctor may be concerned about you having more than one baby for example, twins or triplets if your pregnancy was conceived with the help of clomiphene or IVF, you have a family history of twins, you have severe morning sickness or your uterus seems larger than expected.
This ultrasound can determine the number of babies, as well as the type of twins. Identifying pregnancies at increased risk of miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Checking other pelvic organs. Your doctor may want an ultrasound to check other things in your pelvis apart from your pregnancy, such as the uterus for example, if you have a history of fibroids and the ovaries for example, if you have pelvic pain and there is concern about an ovarian cyst.
Your doctor may be concerned about your pregnancy because of abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. This early ultrasound can provide reassurance that everything is progressing normally. It may also detect a serious problem with either you or your pregnancy, some of which require further investigations or treatment. Your doctor will discuss the reasons for such follow-up, if this is necessary.
Assess the size of your baby. An average length of the embryo at 7 weeks is anywhere between 5mmmm. The average weight is less than 1 gram. Obviously, every pregnancy is unique and individual factors influence the size of the embryo at this early stage, and the embryo shows development week by week. The ideal time for a sonographer to assess the gestational age in the first trimester is between weeks of pregnancy.
Your Baby's First Ultrasound
This is the period of time which provides the most accurate assessment. Generally, ultrasounds which are performed in the first trimester are within days of being accurate in terms of assessing gestational age. This is because although every little embryo is unique, there are still defining characteristics of development which apply to all embryos at particular stages of early gestational development.
As the embryo matures to a foetus, individual genetics and growth factors influence its growth. This is why an early pregnancy dating scan, rather than one done in the later stages of pregnancy, is considered more accurate when assessing the expected date of delivery. With maturity, the size of the baby correlates less to its age than in the early weeks. There are two ways of having a seven week ultrasound.
One is via the abdomen — transabdominally and the other is through the vagina — transvaginally. Some sonographers believe that at seven weeks of gestation, transvaginal ultrasound provides the best and most accurate visualisation.
- First Trimester / Dating Ultrasound.
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With this form of scan it is not as necessary for the mother to have a full bladder. Later on as the pregnancy progresses, a full bladder is not necessary as the enlarging uterus is no longer contained in the pelvic rim. In very early pregnancy, the embryo and pregnancy sac may simply be too small to see very much at all.
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