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July 23, 2013

Seeing Your Baby For The First Time: How Prenatal Ultrasound Works

If you know anyone who has ever been pregnant, you've probably seen one of those small, black and white pictures that the mother insists is an image of her unborn child. Although it is usually difficult for most to discern anything about the baby, these photographs are actually visual images of the prenatal baby produced by ultrasound technology.
These pictures are made during a prenatal ultrasound, or sonogram, and are usually small and grainy-looking. Even though you may not be able to deduce much from the photograph, an ultrasound is a highly beneficial tool that doctors use to check on the health and growth of an unborn baby.

How Does It Work?
The idea behind an ultrasound is fairly simple. An ultrasound sends sound waves through the mother's uterus to produce a visual image of her unborn baby, the placenta and the uterus. It is a non-invasive procedure that can usually be completed in less than 30 minutes. There are two types of ultrasounds: trans-abdominal and vaginal.
The traditional ultrasound is the trans-abdominal ultrasound. Images are created by moving a small transducer over the mother's abdomen.

During a vaginal ultrasound, a small "wand" is inserted into the mother's vaginal canal. Vaginal ultrasounds can cause some discomfort for the mother, but they produce better pictures of the prenatal baby and the uterus.
Doctors use ultrasounds to check on the baby throughout the pregnancy. Doctors can even tell the sex of the baby through an ultrasound image. They also measure the baby's growth, look for ectopic pregnancies and search for prenatal abnormalities.

Modern-Day Ultrasound Technology
Three-dimensional or 3D sonograms are the latest developments in ultrasound technology. An expecting mother and father can now see a small, detailed and three-dimensional scan of their baby instead of the usual grainy photo of “a blob.” Parents are often excited to see their unborn child’s face and body. It may even be possible to count each of the baby’s fingers and toes.
3D ultrasounds are created by taking thousands of images at one time and piecing them together to create a visual that is three-dimensional. Some medical facilities offer three-dimensional ultrasounds solely as a visual keepsake for parents-to-be. However, 3D ultrasounds can have superior medical uses. Doctors can use them to more accurately determine physical abnormalities such as cleft palate.

For the Health of Your Baby
An expectant mother can meet her baby for the first time in as little as six weeks into the pregnancy. Doctors perform ultrasounds early in the pregnancy to confirm and date the pregnancy. At this point in the cycle, you will not be able to see much more than a small spot on the screen.
A standard ultrasound is normally completed at 16 to 20 weeks into the pregnancy. During this session, doctors can usually determine the sex of the baby if the parents choose. After this time, doctors will order additional ultrasounds if needed.
The prenatal ultrasound allows parents to see their baby for the first time. It is an exciting occasion for an expectant mother to actually view an image of her unborn child. In addition, an ultrasound is a valuable tool that helps doctors protect the wellbeing of a child.
Yassin has a deep interest in burgeoning medical technologies. He spends a lot of his free time reading medical journals and industry publications. His role at BRIT Systems, Inc. allows him to research and learn about the latest trends in digital imaging. 


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