A typical pregnancy ultrasound takes about five to 10 minutes and involves moving a small device over your belly to get a variety of views of the baby. If your uterus is particularly deep in the pelvis or you are overweight, a vaginal ultrasound may be required.
If you are unsure of the conception date or the first day of your last period, you may be offered a dating ultrasound when you are estimated to be 10 to 14 weeks pregnant. This will help determine how far along you are and when your approximate due date is. This early check is beneficial also because it can detect whether you are expecting multiple babies. In addition, the expected due date is required for accurate results if you want to check for Down's syndrome or other abnormalities. An ultrasound may be recommended as early as six or seven weeks in, though, if you are experiencing any pain or bleeding.
The second trimester ultrasound will likely be offered at about 18 to 22 weeks. At this point, the baby will have developed considerably, and with the help of your sonographer, you will be able to make out the heartbeat, head and limbs. Often at this time you will be asked whether you want to know the sex of the baby. Because the baby has grown, your sonographer will be able to go through some important checks. She will take a close look at every part of the baby to determine whether any abnormalities are present, such as a cleft lip, misalignment of the spine or a heart problem. Though not all abnormalities can be seen at this point, it is an opportunity to get a head start. The sonographer will also take measurements to ensure your baby is growing as expected. If she is unable to get all the views she requires, or if there is the possiblity of a problem, you may be asked to come in for a repeat ultrasound in a week or so.
If your pregnancy appears to be moving along as expected, you likely won't require an ultrasound in your third trimester. If, however, the baby was smaller or larger than expected during your second trimester ultrasound, if a problem unveils itself or if you have had problems in a past pregnancy, another ultrasound may be recommended. The third trimester ultrasound can take place anywhere from 28 to 40 weeks into your pregnancy. It is used to monitor such aspects as the baby's growth, the position of the placenta and the position of the baby. It is also often done if twins are expected.
Doctors and midwives are trained in how to properly monitor a mother and her child, and that means they will gear your ultrasound schedule to your particular needs. Mothers dealing with high blood pressure or diabetes, for example, will likely require regular ultrasounds throughout the entire pregnancy. When in doubt, don't be afraid to ask your health care professional any questions you have, and check out BabyCenter Canada for more information.
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