Pregnancy is quite a delicate period, especially for the mother carrying the baby to full-term. From maintaining their health to ensuring that they are following the doctor’s instructions to prevent any risks, the list of choices to be made is quite extensive.
During pregnancy, the most common form of screening is an ultrasound. It helps monitor the baby’s growth and development and even alerts the to-be parents about any complications that they need to look out for.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to develop the image of the fetus inside the womb. Pregnant women have to undergo a few ultrasound scans throughout their pregnancy term. However, the frequency and degree of scans are subjective. A standard pregnancy might include a fewer number of scans compared to a high-risk pregnancy, which needs a few more.
This article will explore everything about how many scans are ideally done during pregnancy and why you need to undergo them.
In this Article
- 1 What is the Significance of an Ultrasound Scan?
- 2 What are the Different Types of Ultrasound Scans during Pregnancy?
- 3 Will an Ultrasound Scan Harm the Mother or the Baby?
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 FAQs
What is the Significance of an Ultrasound Scan?
If you are entirely new to the concept of ultrasound imaging, they serve multiple purposes and benefits throughout the pregnancy. Your OBGYN will prescribe an ultrasound scan to:
- Check and monitor the baby’s size in the womb. This is part of the dating scan and provides the doctor with an estimated due date and also averages how many weeks pregnant the woman is.
- Check for twin and multiple pregnancies.
- Check for physical or physiological anomalies and defects.
- Check the position of the baby with respect to the placenta.
- Check the baby’s growth throughout the pregnancy.
Besides these, an ultrasound scan also monitors the baby’s height and weight estimation to ensure that they are growing optimally with respect to the week of gestation.
What are the Different Types of Ultrasound Scans during Pregnancy?
The pregnancy ultrasound schedule can involve quite a few sessions. You have early pregnancy ultrasound and then you have your dating ultrasound, mid-pregnancy ultrasound and so many more.
Being aware of these individual types of scans enables you to mentally prepare yourself for the procedure and monitor your baby’s growth right in front of your eyes.
Remember that the frequency of the pregnancy depends on the severity of the pregnancy. If the pregnancy is safe and normal, the frequency is less. However, if the pregnancy is high-risk, your OBGYN might schedule close-spaced ultrasound scans to monitor the fetal growth closely.
Let us discuss the top Ultrasound scans that are important during pregnancy.
Early pregnancy ultrasound
Done during – 6-8 weeks
Purpose – confirm pregnancy (in addition to a blood test).
The 1-week early pregnancy ultrasound is the most common and the very first of the many during the pregnancy journey. It is done during 6-8 weeks gestation and is usually done to confirm a pregnancy.
It isn’t a mandatory ultrasound scan, especially if the patient is comfortable with a pregnancy confirmation via a blood test only. Moreover, the early ultrasound is typically a transvaginal ultrasound to assess the reproductive health of the mother and ensure everything is safe and comfortable for the fetus to grow.
The early ultrasound also provides the OBGYN with an outlook on the baby’s due date and heartbeat.
Done during – 10-13 weeks
Purpose – ideal for pregnant women who didn’t get early pregnancy ultrasound.
If you missed out on the early pregnancy ultrasound, the dating ultrasound is done next. Like the early scan, even this one provides an estimated due date, checks the baby’s heart rate, and also provides a comprehensive idea about the baby’s growth, including their crown-rump length.
Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound
Done during – 14-20 weeks
Purpose – check for risks of Down syndrome, congenital heart defects, chromosomal disorders, etc.
Done during the second trimester of the pregnancy, the Nuchal translucency scan is a significant milestone during gestation. It assesses the fetus for risks of down syndrome, other chromosomal disabilities, and congenital heart disorders.
Women above the age of 35 should prioritize an NT scan during their pregnancy. Also, if there are reported family history of any of the mentioned disorders, an NT scan can monitor for its presence in the fetus too.
The scan involves measuring the thickness of the baby’s neck. If the neck is thicker than normal, it indicates a potential risk of Down’s Syndrome in the baby.
Done during – 18-20 weeks
Purpose – monitor any abnormalities in the baby’s vital organs like heart, brain, kidneys, liver, etc.
The anatomy scan is one of the most important and extensive in the pregnancy scans list. The procedure can take somewhere between 20-45 minutes, depending on whether you have a single fetus or multiple.
The primary objective of this scan is to monitor the health of the body’s vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, brain, liver, etc. The ultrasound tech will also count the baby’s fingers and toes to rule out any physical disabilities. The scan also assesses the fetus for any congenital defects and examines the health of the placental and the level of amniotic fluid.
Third Trimester Scan
Done during – 29-40 weeks
Purpose – for high-risk pregnancies only.
The 9-month pregnancy scan name or the third-trimester scan isn’t a mandatory one for every pregnant woman. If you have had a safe and comfortable pregnancy, this isn’t a necessity.
However, in high-risk pregnancies with a history of high blood pressure, bleeding, lower amniotic fluid, etc., your OBGYN will prescribe this last trimester scan to monitor the fetus and assess the delivery conditions for the near future.
Done during – the third trimester
Purpose – measure blood flow and blood pressure
The last in the list of scans during pregnancy is the Doppler ultrasound. The primary objective of this scan is to ensure that the baby is getting enough blood circulation to sustain itself inside the womb. Your OBGYN will prescribe a doppler ultrasound if they have a concern about the baby’s blood circulation or placental function.
Will an Ultrasound Scan Harm the Mother or the Baby?
Getting an ultrasound scan is a choice that’s entirely in the hands of the patient. Nothing is mandatory.
However, there are no studies that suggest the potential risks of an ultrasound scan in the mother or the baby during pregnancy. Getting the prescribed scans during pregnancy allows the would-be parents to stay informed about their baby’s growth and take relevant decisions if the situation arises.
Ultrasound scans are a quintessential diagnostic measure throughout pregnancy. If you want to record, monitor, and stay informed about your baby’s growth, getting the scans as per the schedule would be ideal. We hope this article clears your doubts regarding the types of pregnancy scans and their purpose.
How many ultrasound scans are safe during pregnancy?
Ultrasound is a fairly safe procedure. There are not many risks associated with it, so the frequency of the scans shouldn’t impose any risks on the mother and the baby. How many scans you’d need depends on your doctor’s prescription and the status of your pregnancy.
If the scan shows an abnormality, what happens next?
If any of the ultrasound scans point towards any risks of abnormalities or congenital disorders in the baby, your OBGYN will prescribe further testing to confirm the suspicions before suggesting the next steps.
Is a color doppler test necessary in pregnancy?
No, it isn’t mandatory. However, if your doctor prescribes the scan, it is always ideal to discuss the reasons before reaching a decision on whether or not to get it.