Discovering that you are pregnant is one of the most life-changing moments you can experience. If planned, the excitement around this realization can result in several complex emotions, including joy, uncertainty, and anticipation for the delivery date. If unplanned, you may feel overwhelmed, scared, or upset. As part of your prenatal care, ultrasounds are necessary. If this is your first pregnancy, you may have questions about the procedures and what is involved.

Understanding that doubts and questions are normal is vital, which is why we are here to help. This guide will answer questions about ultrasounds, including “When can you see a baby on an ultrasound?”

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a prenatal care routine. Think of it as a technology that relies on sound waves to create images of the organs inside your body. In some cases, an ultrasound is also known as a sonogram. Although the difference between the two is that a sonogram refers to the image produced by the technology. An obstetrician, nurse midwife, or technician will perform an ultrasound for several reasons:

  • To confirm a pregnancy.
  • To detect a fetal heartbeat.
  • To determine the baby’s position in the uterus.
  • To measure the length of the baby.
  • To check for underlying conditions.

During the procedure, sound waves are emitted through your abdomen via a device called a transducer. These waves bounce off your reproductive organs, transforming them into images on a screen for you and your doctor to view. While most women only need two ultrasounds, some doctors may request additional procedures for several reasons.

Your doctor may need to monitor your pregnancy if you are carrying twins, or they may request additional visits due to health-related concerns. Additional ultrasounds are also necessary if you are at high risk for preterm labor.

Fetal Ultrasound

A fetal ultrasound is performed during a woman’s first trimester (week 1 through week 12) and evaluates the state of a woman’s pregnancy. During a routine ultrasound, doctors will determine the size of the fetus, confirm the number of babies present, and check for any health-related factors that pose a threat. 

Practitioners also perform the first-trimester ultrasound to determine your baby’s gestational age, which is how far along you are in your pregnancy. Keep in mind that there are two types of fetal ultrasound exams: transvaginal and transabdominal ultrasound. With a transvaginal procedure, practitioners place a transducer in your vagina that sends sound waves. 

A transabdominal ultrasound, on the other hand, is done by placing a transducer over your abdomen. Whatever the case, a fetal ultrasound is the first step in assessing the state of your pregnancy. The question, “When can you see a baby on an ultrasound?” depends on the type of ultrasound you receive. In most cases, a gestational sac can be seen during a first-trimester ultrasound.   

However, this is not always the case. This is why it is vital to remain patient and calm as you seek reassurance that your baby is developing with no concerns.

Second-Trimester Ultrasound

A second-trimester ultrasound is conducted midway through your pregnancy, between weeks 18 and 22. At this point, your practitioner can gain a much more detailed assessment of your baby’s overall health. Think of this ultrasound as a reassurance procedure. Your doctor will examine your baby’s organs, estimate the amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus, and verify the sex of your baby. 

According to North Texas Medical Center, a second-trimester scan can identify a baby’s feet, hands, face, and vital organs. 

Some women might feel relief knowing that the baby is thriving and healthy with no complications. Some women may not be as affected by the ultrasound results. We want you to understand that your emotions are completely normal. Carrying a baby to full-term can produce several emotional reactions that are difficult to accept or understand. There is no “right” way to react to seeing the baby for the first time. Your pregnancy is your story to shape.

Contact Texas Adoption Center

While they may initially sound intimidating, ultrasounds are safe, effective, and provide reassurance to expectant mothers. Texas Adoption Center will stand with you if you are handling an unplanned pregnancy and want to explore your options. We aim to empower, educate, and help women explore their options. We don’t control your story. We simply help guide you to make the best choice for you and your child.

Contact us when you are ready.

Recommended Posts