How many ultrasounds are necessary in pregnancy?

This is a long-awaited moment for every future mother, but we often do not know how many ultrasounds we will get. Normally, three ultrasounds are necessary throughout the pregnancy , although in some cases it may be necessary to perform more.

Remember that ultrasound allows you to see the image of the interior of the uterus thanks to the conversion of the high-frequency sound waves that bounce off it. Today ultrasound scans are routine for pregnant women in our environment. But let’s see why three are recommended in pregnancy.

Ultrasound scans are performed on the pregnant woman to see the evolution of the embryonic and fetal structures throughout the gestation. In addition, they allow assessing the gestational age, the location of the placenta and the number of fetuses.

The scans carried out in the first weeks produce clearer images when the woman has a full bladder and the less abdominal fat there is, the better (this is why obesity can favor that fetal malformations go unnoticed). The healthcare provider will place an oil or gel on the abdomen to help the transducer travel.

The transducer with quartz crystals stimulated by electric current emits the sound waves. These waves travel to the uterus and bounce back, “drawing” what they have found inside on the screen. Most clinics print this image so that parents can have a keepsake.

Usually the parts of the fetus can be well appreciated. On the screen (and on paper) bones and other dense structures can be distinguished in white or light gray, while soft tissues and organs such as heart, kidneys … appear in gray tones.

In a normal pregnancy, at least three ultrasound scans should be performed , but they cannot be done at any time during pregnancy. It is important that they are done in the appropriate weeks. Let’s see when and for what the three routine ultrasounds are performed in pregnancy.

Three ultrasounds in pregnancy

  • The first ultrasound is performed at weeks 11–13 and is used to view the location of the placenta, the number of fetuses, and the nuchal fold (first trimester combined test). The first ultrasound is also called “date setting” because it can reveal gestational age. Professional gynecological societies recommend the first ultrasound from the 12th week after the last menstrual period and a previous ultrasound ( usually transvaginal ) is of doubtful utility or convenience .
  • The second ultrasound is done at 18–20 weeks to see organ formation and possible developmental abnormalities. Here the genitals are usually clearly seen and if you wish (and “let it be seen”) you can already know the sex of the baby.
  • Finally, the third ultrasound is done between 33–34 weeks to assess fetal growth or detect a late malformation (these are usually manifested in the previous ultrasound). After this ultrasound, what they will recommend to us when the due date approaches are the monitors .

A greater number of ultrasounds in normal pregnancy does not improve the results and there are even more and more doubts about the advisability of doing more of these three ultrasounds. A few days ago we saw that the American FDA has warned about the use of ultrasounds and fetal monitors for non-medical reasons . Then, they must be carried out when it is truly necessary and not out of whim or pleasure, to “see” the baby at any time.

When additional examinations are requested and necessary, it is after the diagnosis of a fetal malformation or of certain risks for pregnancy, bleeding … It is a difficult ordeal that worries parents, but in these cases the ultrasound becomes a fundamental tool to ensure the health of the mother and assess the possibility that the fetus will succeed.

A unique and emotional moment

When everything is going well, the moment of having the ultrasound is very exciting and one of the most parents share with women . It is a unique opportunity to live together the moment the fetus is seen for the first time.

If you do not understand well what is seen on the screen, it is not that you are bad parents, sometimes it is really an abstract picture … Ask the gynecologist to give you the correct “interpretation” and that way you will be able to look at your child again and recognize him. when you want, until finally it is in your arms.

We already know how many ultrasounds are necessary in pregnancy . Now it only remains to choose which one or which of those printed images we will carry with us to show them to anyone willing to see our future baby …

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