Expectant Mothers: Knowing When to Get an Ultrasound

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Know When to get an ultrasound

One of the first questions to pop into an expectant mother’s mind is, “when do I get to see my baby?!” While not every pregnancy is the same in fetal development, one widely accepted guideline for a healthy pregnancy is to have two ultrasounds. Of course, this can change if your doctor sees irregularities during an ultrasound, or if the expectant mother is experiencing complications such as pre-term contractions.

Below is a trimester ultrasound schedule to help you understand when and for what reasons to get an ultrasound…and what you will see.

Prenatal Ultrasound Schedule

First Trimester (Weeks 0-12):

Weeks 6-8: First Ultrasound, Also Known as a Sonogram

Primary goals of the first ultrasound are to confirm the pregnancy and the due date.  You will see a black and white image of a small gestation sac in the uterus and the fetal pole, the first sign of a developing embryo. It is in this first ultrasound that you will most likely hear your baby’s heartbeat! Your doctor will also be able to determine if you’re having multiple children, estimate the age and confirm your baby is growing properly in the uterus.

Second Trimester (Weeks 13-26):

Weeks 18-20: Anatomy Scan

If you have had a healthy pregnancy up to this point, this will be your second ultrasound. You will see a clearer and more detailed image of your baby…and learn if you’re having a girl or boy! Your doctor can determine a number of things at this stage of your baby’s growth, including size, and proper development of the brain and other organs, as well as heart rate, placenta growth, amniotic fluid levels and possible birth defects.

Third Trimester (Begins Week 27):

Your last ultrasound will normally take place around week 20, near the end of your second trimester. However, if there are concerns from prior scans, such as placenta health, low levels of amniotic fluid, bleeding and early contractions, your doctor will likely order additional ultrasounds to more closely monitor your baby’s growth.

3D and 4D Ultrasounds

If you are wondering if and when you should have a 3D or 4D ultrasound, they are typically performed between 24-34 weeks, with the best imaging at weeks 27-32. Many experts recommend getting these “real life” images only at specialized medical centers. Unless medically indicated, insurance probably won’t cover this expense.

Remember, no two pregnancies are the exact same and that’s okay! What’s important – whether you’re hearing your baby’s heartbeat at the first scan or getting your gender reveal at 18-20 weeks – is that ultrasounds are designed for monitoring the health of both you and your baby. Learn more about having your baby at Baptist Health.

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