Ultrasound | Obstetrics | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a safe and painless way to see your baby, using sound waves to produce pictures of your baby and your internal organs.

Depending on the reason for your ultrasound, we may be looking at:

  • Whether you are carrying more than one baby
  • The exact age of your baby, based on particular measurements
  • The baby's size and position
  • Your level of amniotic fluid
  • The location of your placenta
  • The baby's heartbeat and heart size
  • The shape and growth of the baby's various organs and body parts, such as the spine, brain, and kidneys
  • The baby's genitals, to find out its gender if you wish to know in advance
  • Whether the baby has any visible birth defects
  • Certain markers to assess risks for genetic conditions

How an ultrasound is performed

  • You do not need to fast or have a full bladder before your ultrasound.
  • An ultrasound generally takes from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how detailed the scan is.
  • After you lie down on the examination table, the sonographer will apply a warm gel to your belly so that the ultrasound probe can make good contact.
  • The sonographer will move a smooth probe back and forth across your abdomen and watch the images on a monitor. You may be asked to turn on one side if images are needed from a different position. You will be able to see the scan as it takes place, and ask the sonographer questions about what you see.
  • Sometimes, your provider may determine that for certain conditions or to look at the baby from a particular angle, you may need a transvaginal ultrasound, which involves a probe placed in the vagina instead of on top of your abdomen.
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