Pregnancy Ultrasound: What to Expect in Your First, Second, and Third Trimesters

Pregnancy UltrasoundAn ultrasound during pregnancy is a basic test that makes use of high-frequency sound waves to display images of a mother’s baby and reproductive organs. Your obstetrician or primary care physician could order an ultrasound for many reasons throughout your pregnancy.

1st Trimester of Pregnancy

In your first trimester, which is a week to 12 weeks into your pregnancy, Revere Health says a doctor might use the ultrasound for:

  • Confirming your pregnancy
  • Estimating a delivery date and determining your baby’s gestational age
  • Checking your baby’s heartbeat
  • Checking your cervix, ovaries, uterus, and placenta
  • Checking for multiple pregnancies
  • Checking for abnormal growth in your baby
  • Diagnosing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, wherein your baby doesn’t attach to your uterus

2nd and 3rd Trimesters of Pregnancy

In your second trimester of pregnancy, which is 12 to 24 weeks, and third trimester, which is 24 to 40 weeks into your pregnancy, an ultrasound might be used for:

  • Monitoring your baby’s development and position — whether optimal, cephalic, transverse, or breech
  • Determining the baby’s gender
  • Confirming multiple babies
  • Checking your placenta for potential issues like placental abruption or placental previa
  • Checking for birth defects or congenital abnormalities
  • Checking for potential Down Syndrome characteristics
  • Monitoring your amniotic fluid levels
  • Examining the baby for issues with blood flow or structural abnormalities
  • Diagnosing issues with your uterus or ovaries, including gestational tumors
  • Checking if the baby is receiving ample oxygen
  • Measuring your cervix’s length
  • Guiding other tests, including amniocentesis
  • Confirming a stillborn or intrauterine death

Safety Concerns

Although ultrasounds are low-risk and non-invasive, an obstetrician and radiology specialist in American Fork says that you must be aware of unnecessary exposure. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you must only undergo an ultrasound if it’s really medically necessary, such that it’s fine to undergo another ultrasound if your doctor notices a potential issue from your blood test or previous ultrasound results. Most importantly, keep in mind that you should only agree to an ultrasound if a trained medical professional will administer it.