Any healthy pregnant woman is required to pay a visit to her gynecologist every month. These visits are scheduled by the gynecologist to monitor the growth of the fetus. Until the first 32-34 weeks, the doctor will ask you to pay a monthly visit, after which the frequency of the visits will increase. From the 34th to the 36th week, the doctor will require you to make a visit every two weeks, after which you will have to visit the doctor every week.
If there are any complications between your scheduled visits, you should call the doctor immediately. During these visits, the doctor will do a physical examination along with taking abdominal ultrasounds.
An ultrasound machine is special equipment that creates images of the organs inside the body. Though the machine is put to use in many different conditions, it is most commonly used for monitoring the growth of the fetus. The ultrasound image can create images of the internal organs. The machine typically emits high frequency sound waves that can reflect off the organs. The computer is able to catch these reflected sounds and create images out of it. Due to the nature of pictures taken by the ultrasound machines, there cannot be any ionizing radiations that may damage the fetus. Unlike CT scans and X-rays, ultrasounds do not expose the abdomen to any radiation.
To take an ultrasound, you will have to lie down. The doctor will apply a cold gel on your abdomen. This gel allows the sound waves to penetrate the body better. This gel is clear and is water based and therefore, there is no danger of getting an allergic reaction.
After the gel is applied on the abdomen, the doctor uses a hand held probe that is moved over your abdomen. This probe is known as a transducer and allows the doctor to emit sound waves from different directions. For the pictures to be accurate and clear, the doctor will ask you to come with a full bladder. A full bladder allows the right kind of pressure on the abdomen. The Abdominal Ultrasound procedure is not very time consuming and the entire examination will take about 15-20 minutes.
For normal pregnancies, at least one ultrasound is required. However, if the pregnancy has any complications, you may need to have more ultrasound examinations. In the first trimester, you may need to have an ultrasound to confirm the viability of the fetus. The first ultrasound may also help determine the gestational age. Subsequent examinations help to monitor the development and find out if there are any abnormalities.