Obstetric ultrasound uses the same method as diagnostic ultrasound, but instead of monitoring and diagnosing disease, OB ultrasound is concerned with the health of a woman and embryo or fetus during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum recuperation period.
During the ultrasound procedure sound waves are directed into the body and then echo back to a computer, creating an image for your physician to use while assessing your pregnancy. Ultrasound does not use radiation; therefore it is safe for you and your baby.
What Can My Doctor See During The Procedure?
As your baby grows, your doctor will be able to measure specific areas of the body and monitor organ growth.
Specifically, your doctor may use ultrasound to:
- Determine gestational age
- Determine the number of fetuses
- Detect abnormalities and defects
- Determine placental location
- Monitor fetal growth
- Watch the position of the baby
- Measure amniotic fluid
- Estimate birth weight
What Can I Expect During The Exam?
During the exam, the sonographer will apply ultrasound gel to your skin and gently glide a transducer wand across your abdomen while viewing the monitor. All of our exam rooms have monitors mounted on the wall so you can watch the exam as well. Typical times when obstetric ultrasounds may be requested by your care provider are in the first trimester to confirm fetal viability and accurately determine your due date; at the end of the first trimester to evaluate the thickness of the skin at the back of the fetal neck (nuchal translucency), which can be a marker of genetic or heart abnormalities; around 18-22 weeks to assess the fetal anatomy; in the late second and third trimester to assess fetal growth, amniotic fluid volume and the location of the placenta; as well as evaluating for evidence of fetal well-being in the late second and third trimester by looking at fetal behaviour. Additional procedures may be scheduled to monitor your baby’s health according to your care provider’s recommendations.