Ultrasound vs. Sonogram: Is there a difference?
No doubt, you have complete faith in your doctor, which is good. Remember, you and your doctor will work hand in hand throughout your pregnancy to make sure you and the baby are ready for D-day. In this case, your delivery date. You can expect to undergo several tests in preparation for D-day.
Getting an ultrasound is one of the tests you'll undergo. Chances are you've heard about it even before or as soon as you became pregnant. Then again, it's possible you only know it as a way to find out whether you're going to have a boy or a girl. However, when your doctor asks you to take one every trimester, then you might start to wonder what for? Moreover, how it differs from a sonogram?
What you should know about ultrasounds?
An ultrasound is a legitimate medical test every pregnant woman undergoes. It's an imaging test that makes use of sound waves to visualize the baby's condition while inside your womb. Rest assured, the procedure is safe for you and the baby as it
- It doesn't involve the use of radiation.
- It's non-invasive.
- The standard range of sound frequency for a pregnancy ultrasound starts at 3 to 7.5 MHz.
Chances are you've heard people use the terms ultrasound and sonogram interchangeably. In fact, the list of alternative names for an ultrasound is lengthy. It depends on the type of ultrasound test a doctor requires at any given stage of your pregnancy. You'll likely hear some of the following terms.
- Pregnancy sonogram
- Obstetric ultrasonography
- Obstetric sonogram
- IUGR – ultrasound
- Intrauterine growth – ultrasound
In simple terms, an ultrasound is a process while sonogram is the product. Hence, every ultrasound creates a sonogram. It's the image you get afterward and can proudly show off to family and friends as well as to strangers if you want to.
What types of ultrasound exams you need?
You can expect to take an ultrasound exam every trimester. It's routine. So, no need to get anxious whenever your doctor schedules you for one.
Reasons for an ultrasound in your first trimester
Your doctor might require you to get an ultrasound as early as your 6th week. Here's why:
- To confirm a viable pregnancy by checking for a heartbeat
- To verify the baby's gestational age, this measures the length of the crown to the rump
- To eliminate possibility of an ectopic or molar pregnancy as well as other abnormal
- physiological condition in the womb
You'll likely undergo a standard transabdominal ultrasound and a transvaginal ultrasound during this time
Reasons why you need more ultrasound exams during your second trimester
- An anatomy scan takes place during your second trimester
- For multiple pregnancies, it can last up to 45 minutes
- If you're only expecting one, then it can take just up to 20 minutes
It's in your best interest to understand that ultrasound exams during your second and third trimester are routine. These are necessary procedures to ensure everything in there is going according to plan. By your second trimester, the tests are more detailed.
The doctor checks for birth defects:
- Signs of Down syndrome at 13 to 14 weeks
- Symptoms of congenital malformation at 18 to 20 weeks
A fetal echocardiography is done at this time to check the baby's heart.It's also the time when your doctor can confirm dates. So, it'll give you a good idea of how the baby is doing. At the same, know when you should get started working on the nursery.
Reasons for ultrasound exams in your third trimester
By your third trimester, the reasons for you to undergo an ultrasound are the following:
- Confirm your baby's position, development, and well-being
- Check the baby's heart
A doppler sonography is also done if you have a high-risk pregnancy: (The tests can help determine if it's necessary for you to undergo a C-section. Likewise, when it's the best time to schedule it)
- You're pregnant with more than one baby
- You've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes
- You're under threat of preeclampsia
Is it possible to overdo it?
Given the number of times, you'll need to undergo an ultrasound. You might be wondering if it's safe. Well, experts offered their resounding assurance that it is. To begin with, it doesn't use radiation like an X-ray or CT scan. Hence, it poses no risk that would result in any birth defect. OB-GYN Dr. Allison Hill, who wrote "Your Pregnancy, Your Way," explains to Romper it would require four straight hours of exposure to raise concerns.
You should know 3D and 4D ultrasounds are optional and not required for your prenatal exams. But chances are you're eager to get either one done because it's practically baby's first photos. However, it's best to exercise caution and not go overboard, here's why:
- Technicians who do it might not be equipped to deal with any problems that appear
- It can expose your baby to too much ultrasound frequencies
- The activity can disrupt your baby's rest time in the womb
If you can't resist getting a 3D or 4D ultrasound, it's advisable to do it just twice. Rest assured you'll have a lot more chances to have your baby's pictures taken after you give birth. Moreover, it's cheaper to do so. You should know these types of ultrasound exams don't come cheap. Remember, your insurance doesn't cover them.
While your doctor has your welfare in mind, it's also a good idea for you to know as much as you can about every aspect of your pregnancy. Why? Well, the last thing you want is to be caught by surprise. Surprises, good or bad, can make you anxious. Knowledge will prevent anxiety from rearing its ugly head at any time throughout your pregnancy. You should be aware of how stress during this time can affect you and your unborn baby.
- Elevated levels of cortisol can result in babies born who are highly sensitive to stress
- Antenatal anxiety can manifest physically making you feel tense and give rise to heart palpitations
Given these possible consequences, then you'll want to be prepared for anything. As such, you'll know what to expect with every ultrasound test your doctor would require you to undergo. The bottom line is you can enjoy your pregnancy without doubts or fears as early detection can address any problems. So now you know ultrasounds and sonograms go beyond just knowing what the gender of your baby is.