Who Gets the Test?
What the Test Does
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of your baby in the womb. Doctors use ultrasounds to check on your baby's health throughout your pregnancy. Ultrasound is a flexible tool. Ultrasounds can estimate your baby's age, check your baby's heartbeat, and look for birth defects or other problems. In your 2nd trimester, an ultrasound can tell you if you're having a boy or a girl.
Studies show that standard ultrasounds are safe for you and your baby. Still, experts say that you should only get ultrasounds when they're medically necessary. The FDA has not approved the use of ultrasounds at commercial centers to create "keepsake" snapshots of your developing baby.
How the Test Is Done
For a normal abdominal ultrasound, you'll lie down and a technician will put a special gel on your belly. This will help carry the sound waves. Then the technician will hold a probe against your belly and move it around to get an image. You may need to go into the test with a full bladder, which can be uncomfortable. It helps make the test results more clear.
What to Know About Test Results
Your doctor will probably give you the results after the exam. Although helpful, ultrasounds aren't perfect. Sometimes the results aren't clear. If your doctor sees something of concern in an ultrasound, try not to worry. Many women with unusual ultrasounds go on to have healthy babies. Your doctor may suggest further ultrasounds or other tests.
How Often the Test Is Done During Your Pregnancy
Many women get one to three ultrasounds, but there is no standard number. Some women don’t get any. It depends on your situation, your doctor, and your own preferences.
Other Names for This Test
Sonogram, abdominal ultrasound, abdominal sonogram, level I ultrasound
Tests Similar to This One
Level II ultrasound