When it comes to a healthy delivery, the more information you have on your child, the better you can prevent unwanted complications. The entire nine months of pregnancy involves several tests that help determine the health of the baby, with a pregnancy ultrasound being one of them.

What is a pregnancy ultrasound?

A pregnancy ultrasound is a test that involves using high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the developing baby and the mother’s reproductive organs. The average number of ultrasounds differ with each pregnancy. An ultrasound or sonogram or ultrasonogram (USG) conducted for pregnancy helps monitor healthy foetal development and scan for any possible complications in pregnancy. There are different types of ultrasounds, all of which are done to check the baby’s health.

Uses of ultrasound scan

During pregnancy, three-four ultrasounds may be done at different stages of development of the baby:

Early viability scan – This is usually done during early pregnancy to look at the site of the pregnancy, the number of gestational sacs, the cardiac activity of the foetus, gestational age and other structures like the uterus and the ovaries. The scan helps to date the foetus.

NT Scan – It is done between week 11 and 13 of pregnancy to rule out the presence of any syndromes like Down’s syndrome. This test is done when the baby measures somewhere between 45 mm and 84 mm in length.

Anomaly scan – This is done usually between weeks 18 and 20 to check the development of different organs of the baby like the heart, kidneys, spinal cord, brain, limbs, etc.

Growth scan – This is done usually after week 30 to check the growth of the baby, checking the status of the placenta, amount of amniotic food, movements of the baby, the blood flow to the baby, and other essential parameters.

Types of ultrasounds

When needed, more advanced USG techniques may be used in pregnancy for detailed imaging:

Transvaginal ultrasound

A transvaginal ultrasound may be carried out to produce a clearer image. To do this, a small ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina. The probe rests against the back of the vagina, while the images get captured.

3-D ultrasound

Unlike a 2-D ultrasound, a 3-D ultrasound lets the doctor see the height, width, and depth of the foetus and your organs. A 3-D ultrasound follows the same procedure as a 2-D ultrasound but comes with a special probe and software that creates the 3-D image.

4-D ultrasound

A 4-D ultrasound is advanced in the sense that it creates a moving video of the foetus. The test is carried out to obtain a better image of the baby’s face and movements.

Depending upon the hospital and specialised facilities offered, more advanced tests like Foetal Echocardiography may also be carried out.

What is Foetal Echocardiography?

A Foetal Echocardiography is usually done when the doctor suspects that your baby might have congenital heart defects. The test is performed in a way that is similar to a traditional USG scan, but it only takes longer. This is because the test captures an in-depth image of the foetus’ heart, which lets viewers look at the size, shape, and structure. The ultrasound offers a look at how the baby’s heart is functioning, which helps diagnose any problems.

An ultrasound is an essential part of determining the health of the foetus at different stages of its development. With the right diagnosis, it can help parents make decisions that will help in delivering a healthy baby.