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This Is My First Pregnancy: Are Ultrasounds During Prenatal Care Safe?

This Is My First Pregnancy: Are Ultrasounds During Prenatal Care Safe?

An ultrasound is one of the ways doctors check your baby as the little one is growing in the womb, but is it safe for both you and the baby? If you're pregnant for the first time, you may be wondering.

Although an ultrasound seems normal in prenatal care, it's OK to ask questions about any test and its safety for your growing baby. Taking control of your health and your baby's well-being is a part of the pregnancy process.

If you're concerned about prenatal care, Dr. John Paul Roberts and our team are here in Plano, Texas, to help. Dr. Roberts is an experienced OB/GYN offering prenatal care for women, ultrasounds, and other services for your growing baby.

What is a prenatal ultrasound?

A prenatal ultrasound is one of the best ways for Dr. Roberts to check on your baby's health while they're still inside the uterus. Unlike X-rays and other imaging studies, an ultrasound uses sound waves instead of harmful radiation to create an image of the baby.

During a prenatal ultrasound, Dr. Roberts uses a transducer on your abdomen or in your vagina to transmit  sound waves. These sound waves detect structures in the body, like your growing baby and internal organs, to create an image that prints out from the ultrasound machine.

Dr. Roberts may perform a prenatal ultrasound for many reasons, including to check on the development and growth of the baby and to detect any complications or medical issues related to your pregnancy. Other reasons he may request an ultrasound include:

Routine prenatal ultrasounds are an integral aspect of care during pregnancy. During your first pregnancy, you may feel anxious, fearful, and excited going into an ultrasound, all of which are normal.

Dr. Roberts only performs prenatal ultrasounds when medically necessary. Insurance companies typically only cover ultrasounds during specific times during pregnancy or if you or your baby are at high risk for complications.

When do I need a prenatal ultrasound?

The timing of your first ultrasound depends on several factors, including your provider's preference, your age, and whether you're at high risk for complications. Depending on your specific needs, Dr. Roberts may recommend you have your first ultrasound around eight weeks of gestation or closer to 12 weeks.

Your first ultrasound is significant because it helps Dr. Roberts confirm pregnancy by detecting the baby's heartbeat. He performs the initial ultrasound using a transvaginal transducer, which he inserts into the vagina.

During the initial transvaginal ultrasound, Dr. Roberts can detect several things:

If you're healthy and aren't at high risk for complications, you won't have another ultrasound until about 20 weeks.

The 20-week ultrasound is known as the anatomy scan because it's the first time Dr. Roberts can detect your baby's sex — as long as the baby cooperates and is in a good position. During this ultrasound, Dr. Roberts can also find specific congenital disabilities and issues related to their major organs, like the brain and heart.

If you and your baby are healthy, you may not have another ultrasound during your pregnancy, which is entirely normal.

Safety of ultrasounds during pregnancy

During your first pregnancy, ultrasounds are the chance for you to see your baby before they're born, but you may have some concerns. The good news is that prenatal ultrasounds are entirely safe for both you and your unborn baby.

Ultrasounds are safe because they utilize sound waves to form a picture of the fetus. Other imaging studies could be harmful because they use radiation.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there haven't been any reported detrimental effects on the fetus from necessary ultrasounds during pregnancy. But the ACOG recommends using the ALARA technique, which means as low as reasonably achievable, for the sound waves of the ultrasound machine.

Dr. Roberts follows the ACOG's guidelines related to ultrasonography and the ALARA recommendations. He only performs the tests when necessary, based on your overall health and the growing baby's wellness.

You can rest easy during your first pregnancy, knowing that the ultrasounds are a way for Dr. Roberts to examine the baby in the womb without harm to you, the baby, or your pregnancy.

Call our Plano, Texas, office today at 972-591-8540 to schedule a prenatal care appointment with Dr. Roberts or request a consultation on our website.

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