Ultrasound is a non-invasive and a painless test or a scan administered over a patient using sound waves of high frequency for studying the internal body constructions. A prenatal ultrasound or sonography is performed to determine the stage of your pregnancy, ascertain the due date of delivery and most importantly to examine the overall growth and development of the child. Safe for both mother and her unborn child, an ultrasound reveals the childâ€™s position in the uterus, heart rate, breathing, movement, and also determines the sex. The growing technology has given way to 3D and 4D scan images, where you can see your baby way before birth. Although it is an effective tool to scan any problems in pregnancy or abnormality in growth of the fetus yet in case of any suspected abnormality other tests are performed.
How safe are ultrasounds?
There is always a dilemma amongst patients and their relatives about the side effects of an ultrasound on the unborn baby. However, there is no scientific evidence which says that ultrasounds are harmful for the growth and development of the fetus or that links the ultrasound scans to any sort of deformity in the unborn child. The only thing that is important and needs to be insured is that the ultrasound san is done by a doctor or a skilled sonographer on the advice of the doctor and according to the recommendations. In the regular 2D scanning the ultrasound liquid with less concentration is spread over a larger area for minimal heating, which is less than a degree and safe for both the mother and child. In the 3D and 4D scans also the same amount of heat wave is administered therefore even these advanced scans are also considered safe.
Precautions Needed While Undergoing an Ultrasound: Although ultrasound is a painless and harmless process yet there are certain precautions required to insure better safety and health of the mother and child. These include:
- Wear loose clothes so that the doctor can easily access your belly.
- Ultrasound should be performed by a well-trained doctor or a sonographer and using low intensity ultrasound.
- Insure that the scan is very brief and is completed quickly.
- In case of some uneasiness inform your doctor allow him decide whether an ultrasound should be done or not.
- A Doppler scan particularly with a vaginal probe should be avoided specially during the early weeks of pregnancy when the fetus is still developing.
- Ultrasound probe should not be used for a long time as it may raise the temperature of the tissues causing harm to the baby.
- It is recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Food and Drug Administration that ultrasounds should be done only when medically necessary and recommended by the doctor.
How many and how often ultrasounds are medically needed?
It is important to know that medically a healthy woman undergoes an ultrasound scan only twice in the entire period of her pregnancy. Once in the first trimester to check the due date and the second in the eighteenth week to determine the sex of the baby and confirm if growth and development of the baby is normal. Additional scans are recommended by doctors only if these early scans report some problem with the development of the fetus or if the expectant mother has any medical complications or problems like diabetes and hypertension. However, if your doctor recommends more than two ultrasounds you ensure whether it is medically necessary and safe for your baby.