An ultrasound during pregnancy can give you the first glimpse of that baby you hold so dear. Dr. Houmam Al-Hakeem at Westover Hills Women’s Health in San Antonio recommends this safe and extremely effective tool to help monitor your baby’s health. As a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Al-Hakeem uses the ultrasound to make sure your little one is growing and developing as expected.
Sometimes called a sonogram, a fetal ultrasound study captures images of your baby in the womb. The ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves rather than radiation to provide an accurate picture of developing organs, bones, and other tissues. This makes it a safe and highly effective tool for monitoring your baby’s growth and development.
Dr. Al-Hakeem uses the uses the information from the ultrasound to see how where you are in your pregnancy and to confirm or change your due date. Depending on the position of the fetus, the study may also show your baby’s sex, heart rate, respiratory rate, and movement in your uterus. It can also tell you if you’re having more than one baby.
Ultrasound images also help Dr. Al-Hakeem evaluate factors important to your baby’s overall health, such as the amount of amniotic fluid available and the size and position of the placenta. This information helps him develop a specialized care plan for the rest of your pregnancy if there’s a problem or decide whether further evaluation is necessary.
A fetal ultrasound is noninvasive and completely painless -- some women even find it relaxing. The ultrasound technician first spreads a specially formulated gel over the surface of your abdomen. The tech then moves a handheld device called a transducer over your belly, pressing it against your skin so the device makes contact.
Sound waves emitted by the transducer travel through the gel, bounce (echo) off your uterus and the fetus within, and travel back through the transducer to a computer. The computer converts the wave patterns into images that are then displayed on a monitor.
There’s typically audio available during the study. If you’re past your 18th week, you may get to hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time. You can also expect to receive a snapshot to share with your family and friends. The entire procedure generally lasts less than 30 minutes.
The oldest and simplest form of ultrasound provides a flat, two-dimensional image of your womb and the fetus. The advanced three-dimensional ultrasound gives Dr. Al-Hakeem a more detailed, lifelike picture than a two-dimensional ultrasound. This makes it much easier for him to assess the health of your baby.