Why Are Pregnancy Ultrasounds Important?

May 4, 2023

Why Are Pregnancy Ultrasounds Important?

Pregnancy is an exciting time for expecting mothers. However, it can also be a time for uncertainty and worry. One of the most important aspects of pregnancy care is having regular ultrasounds to check the growing fetus’s health and development.

In this blog, we’ll answer some common questions about pregnancy ultrasounds, including when they are done, why they are important, if it is safe to have ultrasounds every two weeks, and the average cost of an anomaly scan in India.

What is a pregnancy ultrasound?

A pregnancy ultrasound, or sonogram, is a procedure that uses sound waves to create a picture of your developing baby in the uterus. It helps your doctor:

  • Monitor the baby’s growth and development
  • Check the health of the uterus and placenta
  • Detect any abnormalities or potential complications

Most women get an ultrasound in their second trimester, around 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Some may also get an early ultrasound in their first trimester, before 14 weeks, to confirm the pregnancy, estimate the due date, and check the baby’s growth and development in the early stages. However, the exact number and timing of ultrasounds may vary depending on women’s health conditions, such as asthma or obesity.

What is the importance of ultrasound in pregnancy?

Ultrasound is a safe, convenient test that can give you and your doctor essential information about your pregnancy and unborn child. Your doctor may use a pregnancy ultrasound to:

  • Confirm if your pregnancy is viable. It means everything appears to be progressing well, and your baby’s heart is beating.
  • Check to find out if you’re expecting twins, triplets, or more (also known as multiples)
  • Check your baby’s age and estimate your due date.
  • Examine your baby’s organs, muscle tone, movement, and overall development.
  • Check for pregnancy complications, including ectopic pregnancy (growing outside the uterus), molar pregnancy (abnormal growth of pregnancy tissue), and miscarriage.
  • Check to see if your baby is in the head-first position before birth.
  • Examine the length of your cervix and the location of your placenta
  • Examine your baby’s health
  • Check your baby’s growth and size
  • Examine your pelvic organs like ovaries, uterus, and cervix

Your doctor may also use a pregnancy ultrasound for screening and other testing. Screening is a test that determines if your baby is more likely to have a specific health condition than others. This type of test allows doctors to monitor and manage any potential issues early on. Your doctor can also use ultrasound to help with other pregnancy tests, such as amniocentesis or CVS (chorionic villus sampling). These tests can help doctors check if your baby has a genetic or chromosomal condition, such as Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, or Patau’s syndrome.

Moreover, an ultrasound is an integral part of a biophysical profile (BPP), a test that combines ultrasound with a nonstress test. This test evaluates whether a developing baby is receiving adequate oxygen, helping the doctor identify potential concerns and take necessary steps to ensure the baby’s well-being. Therefore, ultrasound plays a crucial role in ensuring the healthy development of a baby and helping doctors make informed decisions about ongoing pregnancy care.

How often do you receive ultrasounds during pregnancy?

Most pregnant women will undergo three or four ultrasound scans during pregnancy. The exact number and timing of these pregnancy scans may differ depending on factors such as your doctor and any underlying health conditions. In case of a high-risk pregnancy or if the doctor suspects any health complications for the mother or the baby, additional ultrasounds may recommend for closer monitoring.

Here is a breakdown of the scans performed during the various stages of pregnancy:

1. 6 to 14 Weeks (Dating Scan)

The ultrasound performed during the early stages of pregnancy (first trimester), usually between 6 and 14 weeks, is called the dating scan. Your doctor uses this pregnancy ultrasound to:

  • Confirm your pregnancy is viable
  • Estimate your baby’s due date
  • Confirm if you have multiple pregnancies (carrying one or more babies in the uterus)
  • Determine whether your baby is growing in your uterus and whether you have an ectopic pregnancy
  • Identify any potential complications that might affect your and your baby’s health

2. 12 to 13 Weeks (Nuchal Translucency Scan)

A Nuchal Translucency Scan (NTS), also known as a 12-week scan, is usually done at 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, you can do it between the 11th and 13th week of pregnancy. During the pregnancy scan, the thickness of a small area at the back of your baby’s neck, called the nuchal translucency, is measured to assess the risk of your baby having a genetic condition called chromosomal abnormality.

Like a dating scan, the nuchal translucency scan can also assess your baby’s growth and development, estimate your due date, the number of babies in the womb, and check for any structural issues that could affect your baby’s health.

3. 18 to 22 Weeks (Morphology Scan)

The ultrasound performed between the 18th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy is called the morphology scan or a “fetal anomaly scan.” This special ultrasound is done to:

  • Examine your baby’s internal organ development
  • Estimate your baby’s size and gestational age
  • Checks your baby’s heart rate and rhythm, as well as the position of your placenta relative to your cervix
  • Measures the length of your cervix and ensures that it is closed

4. 32 to 36 Weeks (Third-trimester Ultrasound)

The ultrasound performed during the last trimester of pregnancy, typically between weeks 32 and 36, is known as a third-trimester ultrasound. Your doctor uses this ultrasound to:

  • Check the growth and position of the fetus
  • Examine the amount of amniotic fluid
  • Confirm the location of the placenta
  • Detect any potential problems such as low fetal weight, congenital disabilities, or issues with the umbilical cord.

This ultrasound ensures a safe and healthy delivery for the mother and baby.

Is it ok to have a pregnancy scan every two weeks?

Pregnancy scans are considered safe and ensure the health and well-being of you and your baby. However, it is not recommended to have a pregnancy scan every two weeks since it can cause undue stress and anxiety.

Your doctor may recommend more frequent scans if you have a medical problem or a high-risk pregnancy. Otherwise, regular prenatal care visits are typically sufficient.

What is the average anomaly scan price in India?

An anomaly scan in India costs around INR 2000 – INR 3500. However, the cost of an anomaly scan in India depends on several factors, including:

  • The type of test you choose
  • The city in which you choose to take the test
  • The lab facility type you use to do the test

To get an accurate estimate of the cost of an anomaly scan in your location, consult your doctor or hospital.

Take Away

Pregnancy ultrasounds are important for expecting mothers. It monitors your baby’s health and development and detects abnormalities and potential complications, allowing prompt medical intervention.

If you want to learn more about pregnancy ultrasounds or have concerns about your baby’s development, consult a gynecologist at Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital. Our team of experts provides affordable and high-quality gynecology services to patients so that you and your baby receive the best possible care and support throughout your pregnancy and beyond.

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