prenatal ultrasounds what you need to know and how to prepare

How to Prepare for a Prenatal Ultrasound | A Few Tips

My favorite prenatal checkups were the ones we got to do an ultrasound. Seeing our baby, even as a teeny tiny bean, was thrilling, and as he looked more and more like a baby, it felt unbelievable that I was able to catch a glimpse of who was in my belly.

In the last 50 years, the ultrasound has become an invaluable tool for medical professionals to monitor fetal development. You may also hear it called a sonogram, an ultrasound is an important prenatal tool for pregnant women because it allows doctors to perform a noninvasive examination of the baby. Most of these exams occur in the second trimester, at 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

What to Expect

A sonogram uses sound waves to produce an image of a specific internal area of the body. It’s a completely safe, noninvasive test that won’t harm the baby or the mother. A technician will rub a transducer probe around the woman’s stomach. The sound waves will send data back to the CPU, which will analyze the data and create an image of the baby.

The image will be in either 2D or 3D, depending on the machine. 3D images have much more detail, and they allow the tech to see more and make a more accurate diagnosis for any potential problems.

Expectant mothers get their first ultrasound to find out if they’re pregnant. Pregnancy tests are mostly accurate, but an ultrasound is definitive and removes all doubt. Throughout the pregnancy, the OB will order several ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s development.

Our 12 week ultrasound photo

The first ultrasound is performed in the first trimester so that the excited parents can get their first look at the new baby and so that the doctor can estimate a due date estimate. The second one comes in the second trimester to determine the baby’s sex (if you want to know) and to ensure everything is developing as it should be. This ultrasound take 20-30 minutes.

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If the pregnancy is high-risk or if the woman experiences problems at any time, the OB/GYN can order more ultrasounds to make sure everything is okay and to try to minimize the risks. In the case of twins or triplets, the doctor will perform even more checkups to monitor the babies’ well-being.

Personally, we had the luxury of having a weekly ultrasound from 5-8 weeks of my pregnancy at the fertility clinic. Waiting for one at my 12 week appointment was agonizing but the difference in that month was insane!

prenatal ultrasounds what you need to know and how to prepare

How to Prepare for an Ultrasound

Because an ultrasound is a quick, noninvasive procedure, you won’t need a lot of preparation. You’ll have to lie on your back, so wear comfortable clothing. Avoid wearing a dress—instead, wear two pieces of clothing such as a shirt and pants so that the tech can just lift your shirt a short way to expose the stomach.

Empty your bladder 90 minutes before the appointment, and one hour before the appointment, drink two to three eight-ounce glasses of liquid to fill your bladder.

Don’t urinate before the appointment—a full bladder moves the bowel out from the pelvis, making the uterus and baby easier to see. Plus, prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy, there isn’t enough amniotic fluid present to get a clear picture; the full bladder helps push things forward. Once the exam is over, you’ll be able to use the restroom.

As a gift, my husband got me us a 4D ultrasound at 35 weeks to get an even better glimpse of our nugget. If you can swing it, it’s a really fun thing to do in those final weeks before baby, but don’t expect amazing photos, Owen wasn’t very cooperative but I still loved it!

Ultrasounds will likely be something you excitedly look forward to, and definitely keep at least one photo from each one for a baby book!

Talking through what to expect throughout pregnancy is just a portion of prenatal health coaching. Feel like you could benefit from this? I would love to work with you! Email me at Samantha@simplywellcoaching.com and let’s talk. In a quick and free 20 minute Discovery Call you can determine if Prenatal Health Coaching is right for you.

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