For a first-time expectant mother, the prospect of getting an ultrasound is an exciting but scary one. Your first ultrasound is your first look at your unborn child and should be a special moment for you and your partner to enjoy without fear of the unknown putting a damper on the experience. Here is what to expect from your first ultrasound.
The Basics: Types of Ultrasounds
Typically, at least one ultrasound is conducted per trimester. The first ultrasound usually takes place around seven or eight weeks into the pregnancy. There are two main types of prenatal ultrasounds: transvaginal and transabdominal. Here is a brief overview of both.
Transvaginal ultrasounds are typically used in the early stages of pregnancy because they make it easier to view the tiny fetus. In this type of ultrasound, a wand-like probe called a transducer is inserted into the vagina. The transducer emits sound waves that bounce off the fetus and create an image of your baby. The procedure may be a little uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t expect it to hurt.
Transabdominal ultrasounds are used after the early weeks of a pregnancy and work by sending sound waves through the abdomen that reflect off the baby to create an image. When you get this type of ultrasound, the doctor will rub a clear gel on your abdomen to facilitate the transmission of soundwaves. He or she will then move a transducer, which emits sound waves, across your abdomen. This may feel a bit funny, but it will not hurt or cause discomfort.
Transvaginal and transabdominal ultrasounds are the two most common methods, but they are not the only ones. 3D ultrasounds, which allow you to see a 3D image of your baby, are sometimes available. There are also some types of ultrasounds that focus on a particular part of your baby, like the heart. The two main kinds of ultrasounds work for most pregnancies, but if you feel that another kind would better suit you and your baby’s needs, do a little extra research and discuss it with your doctor.
How To Prepare for an Ultrasound
Now that you have learned what to expect from your first ultrasound, here are a few tips for how to prepare.
Come with a full bladder
For most ultrasounds, especially early on in a pregnancy, your doctor will ask you to come with a full bladder. When your bladder is full, it expands, which pushes your uterus upwards and moves the intestines and other organs out of the way.
Wear the appropriate outfit
While fashion advice seems out of place in this situation, it is really quite applicable. Consider the type of ultrasound you will be having when choosing what you will wear for the procedure. For a transvaginal ultrasound, you may be given a gown to wear. For a transabdominal ultrasound, wear something with two pieces to keep your stomach easily accessible.
Don’t be anxious!
When you are preparing for an ultrasound, don’t be anxious! Understanding the specifics of how an ultrasound works will reduce any anxiety or fear, and a good doctor can help reduce anxiety during the procedure. Ultrasounds are a normal and healthy part of pregnancy so there is no need to dread them.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.