Fetal ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound which is done during a woman’s pregnancy. The ultrasound is specifically performed in order to obtain a picture of the fetus. This can help in ascertaining the health and the development of the baby. The fetal ultrasounds can also show pictures of the placenta which is essential for the nourishment of the baby.
The pictures obtained from the fetal ultrasounds are also known as sonograms, scans, and echograms. They are usually conducted at regular intervals to monitor the development of the baby. There are several different ways in which the pictures of the test are presented. Usually the baby’s photographs obtained by the ultrasounds are black and white. However, nowadays, new technology allows doctors to take fetal ultrasounds that display pictures which are three dimensional and give a more accurate understanding of the baby’s development.
The most commonly used ultrasound for this purpose is known as the fetal Doppler ultrasound. In this, the ultrasound waves produce a Doppler effect, producing a picture of the developing baby and the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. The ultrasounds can help detect the normal growth of the baby, but are not useful for predicting potential risks or birth defects.
A fetal ultrasound is usually used to check the size and the position of the baby. When used after the eighteenth week of a pregnancy, an ultrasound test can also help determine the sex of the baby. In the first trimester, many doctors recommend a series of tests which combines ultrasounds with some other diagnostic techniques in order to check the baby for signs of Down syndrome. These tests specifically check for the thickness of the skin at the back of the baby’s neck.
A fetal heartbeat ultrasound may also be done to check for the regularity and the frequency of the heart beat. After the second trimester, fetal ultrasounds can be done in order to estimate the age of the fetus and determine whether the baby is positioned correctly for birth. If the baby is not positioned correctly at the time when the mother is in labor, a cesarean section may have to be performed.
In the later stages of the pregnancy, ultrasounds are often done to make sure that the baby is alive and is able to move inside the womb. In a high risk pregnancy, an ultrasound may be conducted in order to monitor the length and the dilation of the cervix.