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What Are the Different Types of Ultrasounds?

There are many ultrasound methods and techniques for various purposes, all with excellent benefits for pregnant women.

So, first of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! This article will help you understand and decide on which type of ultrasound to opt for. It’s fascinating to think that you’ll be able to see your little bundle of joy for the first time.

Choosing the right ultrasound can make the experience all the more enjoyable. Now let’s check out the various types of ultrasounds to consider.

What Is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is an imaging technique that doctors or nurses use to see how your baby is forming and make any early diagnoses. It not only shows the external aspects of your baby but also gives the medical professional an image of your baby’s organs and other internal parts.

As well, the added benefit of ultrasound is that you get to see your little loved one in your womb. And, you’ll be able to find out the gender of your baby if you so wish.

What to Expect in an Ultrasound Procedure

In a standard ultrasound procedure, you lie down on a soft table or a bed. The technician applies a special gel to your belly and pelvic region by an ultrasound technician or other medical professional.

Since the gel is water-based, it shouldn’t stain the clothes or skin. The gel aids in the proper transmission of sound waves needed to generate the imagery.

The technician then puts a wand on your abdomen, which is technically called a transducer. They’ll move the wand around until they capture black and white images on the ultrasound machine screen.

During this process, the technician might request you hold your breath so that you are more still, which aids the screen in capturing more precise images. Then once it’s confirmed that the pictures are good enough, the technician wipes off all the gel, and you’re done!

You May Need a Full Bladder

We should mention that before your ultrasound, the technician may ask you to have a full bladder for the procedure.

It sounds a little odd, but in reality, it helps the technician to gain a clearer image of your baby. This is especially true during the earlier periods of your pregnancy.

To get a full bladder, drink 3-4 glasses of water around a couple of hours before your appointment.

And, of course, try not to empty your bladder from the time you drink the water until after you’ve had your ultrasound. A good tip is to wear a women’s bladder pad, in case you can’t hold it in!

Advanced Types of Ultrasounds for Pregnancy

When you need a more accurate image, technicians can use more sophisticated ultrasound techniques.

You need these more advanced methods if your doctor detects complications through your conventional ultrasound. They can be helpful as they provide the details required to make a more detailed diagnosis.

So here are four different, more advanced ultrasounds you can opt for when pregnant. Plus, there’s one other type of ultrasound method we’ll mention, but it’s only used if there are suspected complications.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

This type of ultrasound is typically conducted in the earlier stages of pregnancy, as it can produce a clear image. Other techniques at the earlier stages might not be so capable of producing the picture of your baby so well.

A small ultrasound probe is inserted into your vagina and rests towards the rear while capturing the images. Lubrication is used, and it isn’t something you should be squeamish about. The nurse or doctor that undertakes this test has likely done it thousands of times, and it shouldn’t hurt.

Also, we should mention, the image that’s produced with this method will be two-dimensional.

3D Ultrasound

As the name suggests, this test will produce a 3D image of your little loved one.

This is an excellent method for seeing your baby in more vivid and lifelike detail. You might be able to see the shape of their face a little, like the structure of their nose and forehead.

This method is also much more detailed for the doctor you’re seeing, as it provides the height and depth of where your little one is resting. Knowing this information is helpful for the doctor to know whether there are any complications or not.

The same transvaginal procedure is used, but 3D technology is incorporated into the probe, and special 3D software is used.

4D Ultrasound

Also known as a dynamic 3D ultrasound, this type of ultrasound actually produces a moving image of your baby. It’s like a short clip which can be exhilarating to watch!

Furthermore, it generates an even more precise image of your baby’s face than the standard 3D ultrasound. Plus, the ultrasound can capture movements, shadows, and highlights much better too.

Again, this procedure is similar to the transvaginal ultrasound method, where a probe is inserted into your vagina. However, more sophisticated technology is used to produce the amazing imagery you’ll see.

HD Ultrasound

Some medical practices offer you the choice of an HD ultrasound.

Basically, this offers you all the benefits of 3D and 4D ultrasound technologies. However, HD ultrasound utilizes a unique light source in the probe, which lights up your baby in the womb.

The spectacular result is that you may be able to see your baby in such vivid detail – like facial expressions, for example!

Fetal Echocardiography

When the doctor thinks the baby has congenital heart abnormalities, fetal echocardiography is conducted.

This procedure can be performed in the same way as a standard pregnancy ultrasound, but it may take longer. It captures a detailed picture of the fetus’ heart, including its scale, form, and composition.

And more importantly, this method lets your doctor know how well your baby’s heart functions – to diagnose any heart issues.

The Next Step to Motherhood

A nice way of looking at an ultrasound when pregnant is like it’s the next step to motherhood. You’ll finally be able to see your little baby actually growing inside of you, which can be such a joyous event!

And we understand not everyone will be comfortable with the more advanced types of ultrasounds. So if the doctor doesn’t deem any of these methods necessary, you can go with a standard ultrasound procedure.