Pregnancy is an exciting and transformative time in a woman's life, filled with anticipation and wonders as a new life grows inside her. But it is also a time of uncertainty and apprehensions, as expectant mothers navigate through the various stages of pregnancy and prepare for the arrival of their little ones. One important tool in modern prenatal care is the ultrasound scan. Dr Rinkoo Suri, Consultant Radiology, Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital, Moti Nagar, New Delhi, explains the roles of ultrasound scans in pregnancy, from confirming the pregnancy and estimating the due dates to identifying potential complications and guiding procedures.
This non-invasive, safe procedure uses sound waves to create images of the foetus and surrounding structures in the mother's uterus. Understanding the role of ultrasound scans in prenatal care can help expectant mothers make informed decisions and feel empowered throughout their pregnancy journey, stated Dr Suri.
Confirming Pregnancy & Estimating the Due Date
One of the primary uses of ultrasound scans in pregnancy is to confirm the pregnancy and estimate the due date. This is typically done in the first trimester, around six to nine weeks after the last menstrual period. Ultrasound scans can detect the presence of a foetal heartbeat and measure the size of the embryo, which can be used to estimate the due date.
Also Read: Causes And Tips To Deal With Indigestion During Pregnancy
Checking Foetal Growth & Development
As the pregnancy progresses, ultrasound scans can be used to monitor the growth and development of the foetus. Scans are typically performed at regular intervals throughout the pregnancy, usually at around 12, 20, and 32 weeks. These scans can help to identify potential concerns with foetal growth and development, such as a small-for-gestational-age baby or a birth defect.
Identifying Multiple Pregnancies
Ultrasound scans can also be used to identify multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets. Multiple pregnancies carry a higher risk of complications, such as preterm labour, so it is important to identify them as early as possible.
Checking the Placenta & Amniotic Fluid
Ultrasound scans can also be used to check the health of the placenta and the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus. The placenta plays a critical role in providing oxygen and nutrients to the foetus, so it is important to monitor its health throughout the pregnancy. Amniotic fluid helps to protect the foetus and allows for foetal movement, so it is also important to ensure that the levels are within the normal range.
Identifying Potential Complications
Ultrasound scans can be used to identify potential complications, such as placenta previa (where the placenta covers the cervix) or a low-lying placenta. These conditions can increase the risk of bleeding and preterm labour, making it necessary to identify them as early as possible.
Also Read: Expert Explains The Critical Role of Vitamin D In Fertility & Pregnancy
Checking the Cervix
In some cases, ultrasound scans can also be used to check the length of the cervix. A short cervix can increase the risk of preterm labour, so it is important to identify this condition as early as possible.
Ultrasound scans can also be used to guide procedures such as amniocentesis or Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). These procedures involve taking a sample of the amniotic fluid or placental tissue for genetic testing. Ultrasound scans can help to guide the needle into the correct position and reduce the risk of complications.
Ultrasound scans are an invaluable tool in modern prenatal care, providing healthcare providers with critical information about foetal growth and development, potential complications, and the overall health of the mother and baby. If you are pregnant or planning for pregnancy, be sure to discuss the role of ultrasound scans in your prenatal care with your healthcare provider. By working together and utilising the latest prenatal care technology, you can ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy and the best possible start for your little one.
Image Credits: freepik