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Everything You Need To Know About Obstetrical Ultrasounds

Ultrasound scans are important prenatal tests, allowing your obstetrician to evaluate your baby’s development. These safe and painless scans provide your first glimpse of the new life growing inside you.

The OB/GYN specialists at Maiden Lane Medical in Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York offer standard two-dimensional and 3D ultrasounds in their comfortable and convenient offices. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about ultrasounds!

A pregnant woman having an obstetrical ultrasound in Manhattan, NY.

What Is Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging?

Obstetrical ultrasound imaging is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of your body, showing your pelvic organs, including your Fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, and blood vessels—as well as your baby. Obstetricians use the ultrasound test to check on the health and development of your fetus and detect problems, including congenital defects and issues like uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. 

Abdominal Ultrasound

During an abdominal ultrasound, the technician gently presses a transducer wand on your abdomen. You can remain dressed during the scan, simply lifting your shirt to reveal your stomach.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

During a transvaginal ultrasound, you will need to undress and wear a robe. The technician inserts a transducer wand into your vagina to perform the ultrasound. This type of ultrasound may be needed if the technician can’t get a clear image with an abdominal ultrasound. 

3D Ultrasounds

3D and 4D ultrasounds are usually elective procedures and are not covered by insurance. Your obstetrician can see everything they need in a standard 2D ultrasound image. However, some parents want to have a more detailed image or video of their baby to share with family and friends.

When Should I Have an Obstetrical Ultrasound?

Most pregnant people have at least two to three ultrasounds during pregnancy. You have the first ultrasound around 6- 8 weeks to confirm your pregnancy, check for multiple fetuses, and measure the fetus to determine the gestational age of the fetus and your due date.

Between 11-14 weeks, a nuchal translucency ultrasound is performed to rule out any abnormalities. The ultrasound done at 20 weeks is sometimes called the anatomy scan. This is the test that can reveal your baby’s gender. Your obstetrician can also see the baby’s heart, brain, bones, and kidneys.

Examining the developing bones and organs can help your doctor identify any health conditions or potential complications. Your obstetrician may recommend more frequent scans if you or your fetus have a high risk of complications, as the images can inform your treatment plan. 

A pregnant woman showing an ultrasound image of her baby in her womb.

What Happens During a Pelvic Ultrasound Session?

When you have an abdominal ultrasound, you rest on a treatment table, and the technician uses a transducer to send the sound waves into your pelvic area and collect their echos. When the scan is complete, you can go home or back to work. The technician won’t discuss your results – your obstetrician will share the details with you at your next appointment. 

How Does the Procedure Work?

The transducer wand is a piece of ultrasound equipment that transmits sound waves into your body and collects their echos as they bounce back off your organs and fetus. The wand sends the echo data to a computer that creates an image from that information.

An ultrasound takes around a half hour. Your technician uses a transducer wand to send the sound waves into your body and collect the echoes. 

What Does My Obstetrician See on an Ultrasound Image?

Your doctor can see your pelvic region, reproductive organs, and developing fetus on an ultrasound. They use the test to check for:

  • Ectopic or molar pregnancies
  • Gestational age and due date
  • Normal growth, movement, and heartbeat
  • Multiple babies
  • Placenta location
  • Baby’s position
  • Problems with the baby’s bones, muscles, or organs
  • Congenital conditions 

Your doctor can also use an ultrasound during other prenatal diagnostic procedures, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS).

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What Are the Benefits vs the Risks?

In addition to creating the precious moments when you see your baby for the first time, ultrasounds are critical to monitoring the health and development of your fetus. They help your OBGYN identify and manage any potential complications as early as possible. These scans are painless and risk-free. 

If you need to schedule an ultrasound session, contact Maiden Lane Medical today! Our specialists in Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY look forward to giving you the peace of mind you deserve.

Medically Reviewed By

Jill Swenson, MD
Board Certified OB/GYN

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