Many pregnant women count down the days to their ultrasound appointment with excitement. The chance to see their baby for the first time, get a few keepsake photos and even be able to determine the gender. However, a sonogram is used for more than just the parents’ desire to see their baby. This is a vital tool that doctors use to ensure both mother and baby are in good health. Here are a few facts about why having free ultrasounds Atlanta is medically important.
Confirming the Viability of the Pregnancy
Ultrasounds are used during the first few weeks of pregnancy to detect where and how the embryo is growing. If a woman isn’t sure when conception occurred, doctors can use the ultrasound to determine how far along the baby is. They can also verify that the baby is developing in the uterus and not another location where an ectopic pregnancy could compromise the mother’s health. Finally, ultrasound is also used to determine if the fetus has a heartbeat if one is undetectable during an appointment. Most of the time, the baby looks like a small spot on a big screen, but the technician and doctors can learn a lot.
Determining How Many Babies You Are Carrying
At the first doctor’s appointment, the physician requests multiple blood tests. One hormone they check helps to determine how far along a woman is in her pregnancy. When these numbers are higher than they should be, doctors use ultrasound to determine if they are carrying more than one baby. On the sonogram, even early on, a technician can detect how many embryos they have, how large they are, and if there is more than one if they share the amniotic sac. It’s also possible that a woman actually has one baby, and the conception dates are incorrect, in which case the ultrasound helps the doctor determine the baby’s appropriate due date and uses that to monitor the baby’s continued growth.
Looking at the Placenta and Amniotic Fluid
During pregnancy, the placenta connects the baby to the mother. It provides the baby with oxygen and nutrients necessary for proper development. Ensuring the placenta is healthy is important for the baby, and doctors can look at it on ultrasound and monitor attachment and blood flow. It’s also vital that enough amniotic fluid surrounds the baby. As the pregnancy moves into the later stages of development, low amniotic fluid can signal that the mother’s body cannot keep up with the demands of the pregnancy, and the baby needs to be delivered. Fortunately, ultrasound gives doctors a view inside the womb, making it easy for them to assess the situation.
Ensuring the Baby Is Head Down
By the end of the pregnancy, the baby should be in a position for delivery. This means their head should be resting down against the mother’s cervix. A doctor can often determine this position by gently feeling the baby by gently pressing on the mother’s abdomen. However, sometimes the baby may appear sideways or turned up, and in this case, the doctor uses ultrasound to confirm this diagnosis.