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The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
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Baby's First Photo - Scheduling Your Ultrasound

Did you know that the ultrasound was first developed in 1956 in Glasgow, Scotland? Obstetrician Ian McDonald and engineer Tom Brown created the first prototypes based on an industrial instrument used to detect flaws in ships. By the sixties Scottish doctors routinely used ultrasound, but it took until the 1970’s when British doctors to jump on board, and well into the 80’s before it became widely used in the United States. Over that time, the technology has continued to develop and today it’s reached a highly sophisticated level of acuity.

What is an Ultrasound, Exactly?

Baby's First Photo - Scheduling Your UltrasoundSoundwaves that are “ultrasonic” are above the audible range of human hearing. An ultrasound device bounces these waves off body structures and tissues, detecting and recording the echoes that bounce back. There is no radiation exposure with ultrasound.

Ultrasounds (also known as “sonograms”) are used to make an image of the human fetus while it’s still in the mother’s womb. An ultrasound scans can confirm a pregnancy, identify the sex and number of fetuses and detect fetal abnormalities, including spinal problems and malformed or missing organs.

During an ultrasound scan, the sound waves are aimed at the mother’s womb and it takes a little time for the echoes to return. In early days of ultrasound use, doctors could only detect larger images, like the baby’s head. Over time, with refined instruments and increased expertise, doctors can now discern much finer, more delicate structures in the fetus.

Safe and Noninvasive

Over the last 40-50 years, ultrasound scans have been safely performed on millions of women. While there is evidence that high-powered ultrasound waves can damage human tissue, the levels of usage for clinical purposes have repeatedly shown no evidence of damage. Fetal ultrasound has proven to be the safest way to check for potential problems during pregnancy.

When to Schedule an Ultrasound

Your AOA healthcare practitioner will help determine the best time to schedule your sonogram. Most likely your doctor will schedule your initial scan during your first trimester and a second scan during the second trimester (between 18 and 20 weeks). The initial scan will confirm and date the pregnancy; the second scan is done when the anatomic details of the fetus are more visible. If any anomalies are detected, your AOA doctor may schedule additional scans to continue to monitor your baby’s health.

Seeing this “first photo” of your baby can be emotionally charged. Many mothers-to-be are moved and excited by being able to clearly identify recognizable parts (such as fingers, toes, etc.), of their developing fetus. It can also be a little scary. Just keep in mind, your AOA practitioner is there to share in your excitement and answer any questions you may have.

Learn more about ultrasound: