Prenatal Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a common prenatal procedure used even in low-risk pregnancies to confirm your due date or assess your baby’s health. If there are any concerns that your baby may be at risk, ultrasound can help provide the information your doctor needs to give you the best possible prenatal care.

Woman undergoing ultrasound test.

Using Sound to See Your Baby

During ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves pass through your body and your baby. You can’t hear the sound waves, but the ultrasound equipment can. It converts them to a visual image on a monitor, allowing you and your doctor to “see” the baby inside your uterus.

During Abdominal Ultrasound

While you lie down on the examination table, a layer of gel or oil is applied to your abdomen so the sound waves more easily reach your baby. Then the transducer is slowly moved back and forth over your abdomen. The procedure is painless and takes less than half an hour.

A sonogram

During Vaginal Ultrasound

The transducer is covered with a condom or other sterile latex shield. Then it is inserted, like a tampon, into your vagina. You should have little discomfort during the test, which usually takes less than half an hour to complete.

A Special Note

Before the test, you may be asked to empty your bladder or drink liquids so you have a full bladder. A full bladder may cause temporary discomfort, but gives a “landmark” to locate your uterus. It also helps make the image clearer.

Health Encyclopedia

Better understand thousands of conditions and treatments: