Are 2D ultrasounds safe?
Ultrasound is not just limited to use during pregnancy. They can be used for a whole range of medical diagnoses and treatments. Any organ can be visualized by ultrasound and depending on the skill and expertise of the sonographer, sometimes more invasive and expensive diagnostic procedures can be avoided.
What exactly is a 2D ultrasound?
The images from a 2D ultrasound tend to be in black and white and have the same level of detail as a photographic negative. Depending on how the baby is lying and their position in the uterus, different images will be seen.
It really is a matter of luck if the baby is awake and active or sleeping when the ultrasound is being done. Some mothers choose to have a sweet or cold drink before the procedure or poke their belly in an effort to stimulate their baby.
Sometimes the images are very clear and it's easy for parents to interpret the ultrasound images. At other times, they can be more difficult to interpret. But don’t worry; the sonographer can point out specific organs, features, and details of the baby if you're not sure. They can also freeze frame the images, take photos, and label different body parts on the screen. With a little explanation, it can all be come a lot clearer!
When are 2D ultrasounds normally done?
- Diagnose a pregnancy.
- Determine if one or more embryos are present.
- Check where the placenta is, especially in relation to the mother's cervix.
- Determine if there are any physical abnormalities or birth defects.
- Estimate the period of gestation.
When is the screening 2D ultrasound usually done?
If parents wish to know the sex (gender) of their baby, then it is usually clear by this stage of gestation. You may be able to take home a record of the scan.
Do what you can to organize your partner to be with you and request an appointment date which is mutually suitable. If, by some chance any concerns come up, it will help if you have a support person such as your partner with you.
How is a 2D ultrasound done?
Another alternative is to have a scan at your hospital. Either way, you will need a referral for your ultrasound from your maternity care provider.
If you are having an early pregnancy 2D ultrasound you will probably be asked to drink 16 to 24 ounces of water within the hour prior to your appointment. This is so that your full bladder will help to lift your uterus a little higher in the pelvis. This will make the scan images clearer.
A warm gel will be applied to your tummy and the radiographer will gently place a transducer on top of the gel. This is a slippery, clear and transparent substance which helps to reduce any resistance between the transducer and the skin. It also helps to facilitate a clearer transmission of the sound waves.
You may be able to see the scan on a separate screen or the sonographer will turn their screen around so you can both see it at the same time. They will do a lot of measuring and what seems to be frequent stopping, starting, and clicking on their keyboard and computer mouse.
If you need clarification, ask them to explain to you what they are looking at and what they are looking for. But don’t interrupt their concentration. Doing a 2D ultrasound properly takes focus and attention to detail. Some sonographers prefer to do the procedure and then discuss what they have seen, and others are able to talk their way through it.
Some parents are disappointed that their 2D ultrasound is not as clear as they would like it to be and for this reason request a 3D ultrasound.
What is a transvaginal ultrasound?
In early pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound is a good alternative to abdominal ultrasound as it can provide a much clearer picture of the embryo and its development.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.