Your Baby’s Prenatal Ultrasound: More than Just a Cute Picture
Many people think of a prenatal ultrasound as their baby’s first picture; and, of course, it is. The image is shared with family and friends and often put into baby books. But to your obgyn, this first ultrasound is a critical part of making sure that you have a health happy baby.
Prenatal Ultrasound Provides Us with Important Information about Your Baby
During a routine pregnancy at Renaissance Women’s Group, your doctor typically will order a prenatal ultrasound on several occasions. Generally, a sonogram is done early in pregnancy to confirm your due date, and make sure that we don’t see any problems. Often ultrasounds are ordered if there is bleeding or unusual pain early in pregnancy. Fortunately most patients who have bleeding early in pregnancy go on and have a normal pregnancy, and an early ultrasound can confirm the fetal heartbeat and provide reassurance about the continuation of pregnancy.
If you desire screening or testing for chromosome problems, a sonogram is usually coupled with blood tests at about 10-13 weeks. At about 20 weeks of pregnancy, a complete “anatomy survey” of the fetus is done to look at all the major organs of the fetus, do measurement to confirm growth, and check the uterus, placenta and cervix. At this visit, we usually provide a DVD with a few minutes of video so you can show other family members or friends your exciting new family addition.
Later in pregnancy, your doctor may order ultrasound exams if there is any suspicion of problems such as concern over size of the baby, or maternal problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or other conditions which might impact the fetal well-being. Often a sonogram is done approximately one month prior to the due date to check the baby’s size and position.
What about 3D or 4D ultrasound?
3D ultrasound uses the two dimensional capability of the machine to produce a three dimensional “surface” picture of the baby. 4D is simply “live” 3D, like a 3D movie. In spite of the publicity around 3D ultrasound and the “cute” baby pictures that can sometimes be obtained, 3D is actually very rarely helpful to trained medical sonographers. 3D only gives a surface picture of the baby, and in normal use can’t provide a look at internal structure. Additionally, the ability of 3D to show fine details is much worse than 2D.
We frequently try to get a few 3D pictures of baby because they are indeed fun and grandma always thinks that baby looks like her. However there must be a clear window of fluid in front of baby’s face to get the cute pictures that are often shown in the magazines. If baby’s face is turned away from the screen or up against the side of the uterus, or hands are over the face, we will be unable to see a clear picture. 3D can’t “go through” other tissue like 2D can. So while 3D or 4D is fun, it rarely is actually useful to us or your doctor. But it is cute when we can get a good picture!!
It’s Important to Have Your Prenatal Ultrasound Performed by a Medically Trained Professional
In recent years, some storefront businesses have begun offering 3D and 4D prenatal ultrasound. These businesses are not part of an obstetrics practice, and the people performing the test may not be medically trained professionals who can appropriately read the results. According to Dr. Byron Darby, people who go to these businesses are often disappointed.
Dr. Darby notes, “In our office, we see incorrect gender identifications or misdiagnosis of problems. An ultrasound is a medical test that needs to be performed by trained professionals.”
If you would like to learn more about the medical uses for prenatal ultrasound or inquire about our prenatal care, contact us. We want to help you have a beautiful pregnancy and delivery, start to finish.