The very first purpose of a pregnancy Ultrasound is confirmation of pregnancy and calculating the Due Date or Expected Date of Delivery (EDD). Along with that, it provides various information about the developing baby, uterus and the placenta while offering parents the ‘first look’ at the baby.
A few reasons why your doctor suggests an ultrasound during pregnancy are listed below –
In Early Pregnancy or 1st Trimester ( 0 to 12 weeks)
- Confirmation of pregnancy by visualization of the gestational sac
- Detection of Ectopic pregnancy -Zygote gets implanted outside the uterus
- Calculate the gestational age and Due Date or EDD- A “normal” gestation is generally considered to be 40 weeks gestation, but medically it is between 37 and 41 weeks. For several reasons, it is important to check the gestational age of a developing fetus. For example, baby growth is measured using established growth charts to ensure normal growth. Gestational age is matched against the mother's last menstrual period to check the due date and can help prevent complications of early or late childbirth.
- To check the baby’s cardiac activity
- To check for twin, triplet, or multiple pregnancies.
- To look for any malformation of the uterus and ovaries
- To look for abnormal growth in the fetus
- To detect missed abortions
- To detect molar pregnancy
In Late Pregnancy or 2nd Trimester (12 to 24 weeks) and 3rd Trimester (24 to 40 weeks)
- Monitor the growth of the baby
- Confirmation of multiple pregnancies and any of its complications-Pregnancy with multiple babies carries special risks and should be monitored regularly. Complications such as "intrauterine transfusion" and cervical weakness require immediate attention to avoid complications.
- To look for problems related to the Placenta (A temporary fetal organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby and attaches to the wall of the uterus and the baby’s umbilical cord arises from it )
Placenta previa – The placenta next to or covering the cervix is abnormally low. It is not uncommon for the placenta to be relatively close to the cervical opening early in pregnancy and to "move up" the uterine wall as the uterus grows with the baby. However, if very deep during labor, it can cause catastrophic bleeding that can hurt both the mother and the baby. Ultrasound helps determine if there are situations that require a cesarean delivery.
Abruptio Placenta – Placenta detaches from the uterus before delivery
Vasa Previa –It is a condition in which a baby's blood vessels cross or pass near the cervix. These blood vessels are not supported by the umbilical cord or placental tissue and can rupture if the mother's membrane ruptures. Patients with anterior vessels may need longer hospital stays during pregnancy and cesarean delivery.
Placenta Accreta – The condition in which blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow deep into the uterine wall. This can be a problem because the placenta usually comes off the uterine wall after birth. In placenta accreta, part or all of the placenta remains attached. This can lead to massive blood loss after childbirth.
Placenta Increta – The condition in which the placenta invades the muscles of the uterus.
Placenta Percreta –The placenta grows through the uterine wall in this condition.
- TIFFA Scan ( Targeted Imaging For Fetal Anomalies) to detect all congenital malformation - Done for pregnant females (Best time: 16 to 20 weeks) to detect birth defects like Anencephaly (absent fetal skull), Spina bifida, Omphalocele, Gastroschisis (abdominal wall defect), and more.
- Check for Down syndrome
- Check the level of amniotic fluid -Amniotic fluid is produced by the fetus, and too much or too little amniotic fluid may indicate pregnancy problems that may require intervention. If increased- Polyhydramnios, If decreased- Oligohydramnios.
- Monitor the position of the fetus – During childbirth, it may be important to know the position of the baby (Headfirst position or buttock first position or if the baby is in a transverse lie) as it can affect the way the baby is delivered.
- Used as a helping tool in other antenatal tests like amniocentesis
Aid in diagnosis of problems after the delivery like the diagnosis of brain haemorrhage (Sheehan syndrome)
Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor for the best treatment options for you personally.