Ultrasound is a common prenatal procedure used even in low-risk pregnancies to confirm your due date or evaluate your baby’s health. If there are any concerns that your baby may be at risk, ultrasound can help provide the information your healthcare provider needs to give you the best possible prenatal care.
Using sound to see your baby
During ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves pass through your body and your baby. You can’t hear the sound waves, but the ultrasound equipment can. It converts them to a visual image on a monitor. This allows you and your healthcare provider to “see” the baby inside your uterus.
During ultrasound of the stomach
While you lie down on the exam table, a layer of gel or oil is applied to your stomach so the sound waves more easily reach your baby. Then the transducer is slowly moved back and forth over your stomach. The procedure is painless and takes less than half an hour.
During vaginal ultrasound
The transducer is covered with a condom or other sterile latex shield. Then it is inserted, like a tampon, into your vagina. You should have little discomfort during the test. It usually takes less than half an hour to complete.
A special note
An empty bladder is necessary for a transvaginal ultrasound. For a stomach ultrasound, you may be asked to drink liquids so you have a full bladder. This may cause temporary discomfort, but gives a “landmark” to locate your uterus. It also helps make the image clearer.