What is an ultrasound?
Also known as a sonogram, an ultrasound produces images on a screen by using a small transducer to both transmit sound waves into the body and record the waves that echo back. During an ultrasound exam, a registered nurse will apply a gel to the skin. This keeps air pockets from forming between the transducer and the skin which can block ultrasound waves.
The transducer sends high-frequency sound waves through your body. The waves echo as they hit a dense object, such as an organ or bone. Those echoes are then reflected back into a computer. This allows the medical professional to read the image on a computer or TV screen. Ultrasounds are a safe and painless procedure.
Why would I need an ultrasound?
Limited ultrasounds are performed when deemed necessary for the following purposes:
- Determine if the pregnancy is viable. (Is there a heartbeat?)
- Estimate how far along you are by knowing the gestational age, which helps in your decision-making process.
- Diagnose a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy (when the fetus does not attach to the uterus).
For even more information on ultrasounds and why it may be important for you to think about having one—please read our How To Calculate Your Due Date resource on our website.