What is a fetal ultrasound?

A fetal ultrasound, also called a fetal ultrasound, is a test that uses sound waves to view images of an unborn baby in the mother's womb. Ultrasound can also act like a camera and take pictures of the fetus. Ultrasounds are used throughout pregnancy to monitor the development and health of the fetus. Most women have ultrasounds during pregnancy.

Many doctors rely on ultrasound to see the developmental progress of the unborn baby. A fetal ultrasound can be used to confirm a pregnancy, measure the size of the baby, and check the baby's organs. The doctor can tell if the fetus is growing at an average rate by looking at the ultrasound screen. Ultrasound also allows the doctor to check the baby's heart, lungs, and other organs to make sure they are developing normally.

If the doctor sees an abnormality on the fetal ultrasound, he or she can begin to diagnose a medical condition before the baby is born. Fetal ultrasound can help determine if there is a genetic disorder or if there is an organ that is not forming correctly. This early information may allow the fetus to begin medical treatment in the womb, or the doctor can establish a treatment plan before the baby is born.

Some people want to find out the sex of the baby before it arrives. A fetal ultrasound can often determine whether the fetus is male or female at around 20 weeks gestation. Most ultrasound technicians will not guarantee the accuracy of determining the sex of the baby. If the baby is turned the wrong way or is hidden in the uterus, the ultrasound may not detect the baby's gender. Either way, most ultrasound technicians will print photos of the unborn baby to give to the mother.

An ultrasound machine uses no radiation and is not an invasive method of monitoring a fetus during pregnancy. Ultrasounds do not have the risks that X-ray machines carry. The procedure usually takes only a few minutes and is not painful for the mother. Most mothers enjoy a fetal ultrasound as they can see their baby in real time.

A fetal ultrasound is routine for prenatal care. Most health insurance companies will pay for ultrasounds during a woman's pregnancy. The cost of a fetal ultrasound without health insurance can vary. Unless there is a pregnancy or medical complications, most women will only need to have one or two ultrasounds during their pregnancy.

Go up