Who Gets the Test?
Ultrasounds -- or sonograms -- are a common part of prenatal care. If you're having twins, you'll get ultrasounds more often than mothers of single babies. You've probably already had at least one. Usually, doctors confirm that a woman is having twins with an ultrasound.
What the Test Does
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of your babies in the womb. Doctors use ultrasounds to check on your babies' health throughout your pregnancy. Ultrasound is a flexible tool. Ultrasounds can estimate your babies' age, check their heartbeats, and look for birth defects or other problems. With twins, ultrasounds can check to make sure your babies are growing at the same rate. In your second trimester, an ultrasound can tell you the sex of your babies.
Studies show that standard ultrasounds are safe for you and your babies. 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. While 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
Starting in the second trimester, most women with twins get ultrasounds every 3 to 4 weeks. Some need them more often. 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