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Different Types of Sonograms During Pregnancy

Updated on December 19, 2016
Janine Huldie profile image

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.

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Ok, so you think you are pregnant. First off, congrats if you are indeed pregnant!!! Now, let the tests begin. From a home pregnancy test to the 36 week test for Group B Strep, some of these tests are enjoyable and some not so much.

Sonograms, are just one type of test you will have during your pregnancy. A sonogram is an ultrasound exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan a woman's abdomen and pelvic cavity; this procedure creates a picture (sonogram) of the baby and placenta. They are mostly enjoyable and give the expectant parents a chance to see their unborn baby in all his/her glory.

However, there are different sonograms given at different times during a pregnancy, and that is what we will be discussing here today in this article.

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Dating Scan/Trans-vaginal Sonogram

The very first sonogram or ultrasound test during pregnancy you will be given is at around 5-8 weeks of pregnancy, called a dating scan. A dating scan is performed trans-vaginally, meaning that the sonogram is performed through the probe entering the vagina. This type of pelvic ultrasound is used to look at a woman's reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, cervix and vagina.

During the early stages of pregnancy, the sonogram cannot be performed abdominally, because the image generated by transvaginal ultrasound provides a better view of the uterus during early pregnancy. On the other hand, the trans-abdominal study requires a full bladder for optimal visualization of pelvic structures. Therefore, for all intents and purposes at this early stage of pregnancy this is truly the most valuable tool to date a pregnancy.

The doctor from this scan should be able to give you the approximate age and due date of the baby at this point. Also, this will be the first time that you will be able to see your baby in picture form and should be able to see the heart beat as well if all is well and on schedule with your pregnancy. I had this test performed on both my pregnancies and it was so neat to see the baby's little heart beating.

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Nuchal Fold Sonogram

The second scan during pregnancy occurs around 11-14 weeks and is called the Nuchal Fold--addominal sonogram, which screens for Downs Syndrome and other genetic disorders. This time out the scan will be performed abdominally. Also, they will be looking for approximate measurement or growth, heartbeat and brain formation of the baby at this time too.

Because this is an abdominal scan and you are still early enough along in the pregnancy, your bladder must be full. So you will be asked to drink several glasses of water and avoid emptying your bladder. Trust me from experience, this is just a bit uncomfortable, especially when you are pregnant and already feel the need to urinate all the time! But when your bladder is full, the ultrasound waves are reflected apparently through this water-filled window which lies immediately over the uterus and small baby allowing much clearer pictures than if you were to have an empty bladder.

This sonogram is pretty straight forward and is the one you usually see on TV and the movies, where the pregnant women is lying down, gel is smeared onto her lower abdomen and then the transducer or probe is moved over the belly to produce the ultrasound images on the computer screen.

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Anatomy Scan

The next scan usually does not come until on or about 20 weeks or halfway through the pregnancy and is called an Anatomy Scan or a Level 2 Ultrasound, which is used to examine the organs of the baby and measure to make sure your baby is growing appropriately and that the baby's gestational age is still on target for your due date.

The ultrasound anatomy scan, or level 2 ultrasound, is an amazingly interesting experience for parents-to-be. Your baby will now be measured from crown to rump, around her belly, and around her head too. The four chambers of the heart will be viewed, as well as the kidneys, bladder, stomach, brain, spine, and sex organs. It is at this time that you can find out whether you are having a boy or a girl. Be sure to specify if you don't want to find out and be surprised (Mom's-to-be call this staying Team Green or neutral, because Team Pink is for girls and Team Blue is for Boys).

The sonographer will also be looking at your amniotic fluid levels, the umbilical cord to make sure it is developing Ok, the location of the placenta, and the fetal heart rate (meaning you can see the heart beat yet again). This little detailed show that your baby puts on for you during this sonogram takes about 30-45 minutes and depends on how cooperative the baby is.

I have known women who have had to go back for a repeat sonogram, because the sonographer couldn't get all the shots needed, because the baby was asleep. No worries most likely, but usually just a precaution and relax you get to see your baby again. I truly always loved sonograms, because I could get yet another glimpse at my kids!!

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Growth Scans, Doppler Blood Flow and More

Usually if all goes well at your Level 2 Sonogram and you aren't a high risk pregnancy, you will not have another sonogram until well into your 3rd trimester. My first pregnancy went accordingly and I didn't have another sonogram until I was 34 weeks pregnant. For 14 long weeks I never laid eyes on my baby again until, I had a growth sonogram, which is a basically an ultrasound done to make sure that the baby is growing on target and will give you an approximate of the baby's weight and/or height.

How do they measure the baby? They actually measure the baby's head circumference and the length of the femur or longest bone in the leg. Sometimes, their measurements could be wrong. They told me with my second daughter the day before I delivered that she was well over 8 lbs, well lo and behold I had her and she measured 7 lbs 2 ozs at delivery.

Also, during the third trimester if they feel there are any potential complications, they will use a sonogram to scan for placental problems; levels of amniotic fluid; and/or doppler blood flow for a possible cord compression. In my first pregnancy at 39 weeks, I was losing amniotic fluid and thought to also have a possible cord compression, well guess what I had sonograms to assess both. When it was discovered that I was indeed losing fluid, I was told quite simply, "Pregnancy is over!" I was induced and my baby was delivered the following day.

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4D Sonograms

3D ultrasounds are scans providing three dimensional images of the baby, which are what all the other sonograms so far have been. But what if we could capture an image of a fetus that was multi-dimensional? 4D ultrasounds are just that and so much more!

From a simple yawn, to a stretch, to the beating of your baby’s heart, parents-to-be can now see and bond with their unborn child with a 4D sonogram. It is a thrilling experience to see your baby’s face for the first time that will truly touch your heart!

Imagine being able to see your unborn baby sucking her thumb or seeing him wave a little hand at you...

These are just some of things that a 4D Sonogram during the latter part of your pregnancy can capture. I had the privilege of having this scan with my second, because I was considered a high risk pregnancy with her and had growth sonograms pretty much every week in my 3rd trimester with her. The sonographer got to know me, because I was there so often that she switched the machine over to 4D a few times for me to see my baby this way. The pictures was amazing and even had a very clear picture of my baby waving her hand at us in one.


Summing It Up...

So these scans are truly there to help find any potential issues that may arise and if so the necessary actions will be taken. They are essentially life-savers for your baby, even though I admit they were always a blessing for me to have, because I was so enjoyed seeing my baby again and again. Therefore, this always was one of the most special and fun times for me having these scans done, because I truly felt so connected to my babies when I got to see them on the monitor and not just imagine them.

As an expectant parent, remember these tests are given for sound medical reasons, but still try to enjoy them, because as I said this is truly a magical and special time for you. The sonogram pictures I included in the this article are all real and were my babies while they were in utero, I scanned them in and laminated a select few too. Congrats again on your pregnancy and try to enjoy the next 9 months!!

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    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Janine,

      Awesome guide to Sonograms! Obviously since I am a guy, I had no idea there were so many tests ans scans! WOW, interesting stuff. I should save this article for when I get married and give it to my wife! LOL

      I enjoyed looking at all the pictures, and especially loved the one with the waving hand. Excellent caption by the way, I smiled.

      Awesome hub Janine; keep up the great work!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh thanks Josh for everything!! Seriously, there are so many tests during pregnancy and you give a ton of blood over the course of pregnancy, but sonograms truly were so exciting for me, because I loved seeing my babies and always looked forward to the days that I had sonograms on. What a nice compliment that you would keep this for when you got married to let your wife use as guide and thank you too for that. Also, I so loved the picture of my Lily waving her little hand and it is still one of my favorites from all the sonogram pictures that I did get.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      This was fantastic, Janine! I loved going in for all my sonograms for Collin! It was so much fun to see his growth and development. They did a lot of them because we almost lost him twice. But, he was a little fighter and hasn't changed much since! :) Most excellent information! :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh my god, I can't even imagine almost losing a baby and am so glad that he was/is a fighter. We actually had quite a scare with Lily and had spotting with her at 21 weeks and was even hospitalized overnight. I ended up being high risk and pretty much worried until the end of my pregnancy more on my end that she would be born early. But as for the sonograms, I truly enjoyed this part of pregnancy for both my girls, because I really did love seeing them on screen. Thank you again Terrye for everything.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting article! I didn't realize some women get so many different scans. I only had one at 18 weeks for development and to determine the sex. We had the option of a 4D scan, but couldn't afford it at the time. Love your picture of the 4D! That is so precious!

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Sharkye11, I also didn't realize there were so many scans that could be given during pregnancy when OI first got pregnant with my first baby, but with my second I was high risk and had sonograms literally every week so I go even more familiar with them after that experience. Thank you again for stopping by and your lovely comment too!!

    • KeriProctor88 profile image

      KeriProctor88 4 years ago from Georgia

      I remember having the Dating Scan/Trans-vaginal Sonogram done first, even though it was uncomfortable, but hearing your baby's heart beat for the first time, is amazing. It's one of the most beautiful sounds that you can listen to. Nice information and hub!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      KeriProctor88, I never did actually hear the heartbeat during that first scan, but rather just saw it. I first heard the heart beat on the Doppler machine around 9 weeks or so, but do agree that it is one of the most beautiful and amazing sounds to behold. Thank you for stopping by and commenting too!!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      When I was pregnant with my first, I sure did have a 'date' with the dating scan. I had no idea that this could happen, they never show sonograms like that on TV. She even put a condom on it. But once I saw that little guy for the first time, I was in love.

      You and I have so much in common. We love hubs, we love mothering, and we both love the journey of pregnancy.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh Carly, I couldn't agree with you more about all we seem to have in common. You are right that we both love hubs, mothering and the journey of pregnancy. Seriously, I loved being pregnant and knowing that another living being was depending on me for everything. It truly made me feel so enpowered. As for the dating scan, so true about the condom and totally remember that, but do very much agree about the moment I saw my little one on that monitor for the first time, it truly made it so more real for me. Thank you again as always!!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      This is going to become a classy read for future moms. Your writing take us right to the very end. 4D sonograms ar a step ahead into the future. The miracle of life in its full expression. Great Journey into the OB-Gyn realm. Sometimes we forget that doctors are unheard of heroes with no cape... sure there you have the others that kill. Thanks Janine for being a wonderful writer. Granparents didn't expect less from you!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Joseph, thank you for generous compliment about this becoming a classy read for moms-to-be, it meant the world to me, because I truly did put a lot of time and effort into this article and learned do much from both my pregnancies about this topic of OB Sonograms and very true about doctors being unsung heroes. That actuallt made me think of Bill's article today. My doctor truly was an unsung hero especially during my second pregnancy where I was high risk. He truly didn't make much off of me, because we had to fight the insurance companies for most of my high risk visits, but he still stayed on my pregnancy like a hawk and was even given his private pager number if I needed anything during that time (morning, noon or night!) Thank you again for always being so kind and so very supportive of me!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Very interesting. This is the first time I have really understood these photos. These clearly show the child. What a sweet hub and I know many parents will find it exciting.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Dianna, I am so happy to hear that from seeing my sonogram pictures that you could clearly understand them and I have to tell you I was blessed to have a wonderful sonographer for both of my pregnancies. She scanned my babies so many times that she became almost like a friend to me. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words and constant support. Very much appreciated :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Your 3D and 4D sonogram photos are awesome! As you know back in the day mom's didn't get photos, I thought it was too cool when my niece's and daughter receiving photos. I'm looking forward to my next grandbabies photo :)

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      My daughters both had a single "routine" sonogram sometime in the first or second trimester--I don't recall which. However, this is new technology since my days of being pregnant with my girls. You simply waited until delivery day to find out everything...

      This is fascinating stuff....thanks for sharing. Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Oh, how exciting it must be to see your baby through a sonogram! These were not done back in the "horse and buggy" days of my pregnancies. I'd give anything to have see my babies this way. It's so wonderful to have something you can frame and enjoy for years to come. Your children can see themselves, too even before they were born. How great is that???

      I voted this Hub UP, and will share. Mary

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Linda, thank you so much for the share in this one. I was very awesome indeed whenever I did have sonograms with both my girls. I enjoyed many aspects of both my pregnancies and these were definitely up there as far as enjoying moments. Thank you again!!

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      DzyMsLizzy, thank for your lovely comment. I consider myself very lucky that this technology did exist during my pregnancies, because it truly fascinated me and always did make me feel that much closer to my babies. Thank you also for the votes and share too.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Mary, another thing you have in common with my mom, she too experienced both her pregnancies before the time of sonograms. My mom actually came with me for one of my sonograms when my husband had to work and remember how intrigued she was. These little photo sessions during pregnancy were truly awesome and I really did enjoy them so much and love that I still have these pics now and for years to come. Thanks again for the comment, votes and share too :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for preparing mums who may be on their way to learning about sonograms...this will show them what they may be in for! Thanks for sharing, and I share as well!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you Michelle and was so happy to share about pregnancy sonograms, because truly this was such a fun part of both my pregnancies and would imagine others who are pregnant too would get pleasure from having pregnancy sonograms and getting to see their little ones during each stage of their pregnancy.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      We find out my Grandbabies gender on Oct. 26th. Can I get a Yeehaw for a cowgirl? Or a cowboy. Preferably pink booties since that's what Faith wants :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh Linda, I feel like I have been with you and your family through the whole pregnancy so far. And I truly so excited for you all to find out the gender of the baby, as well as to be with you along the rest of this pregnancy journey too!! And for Faith I do hope that pink is in your future too :)

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Wowww!!! vry informative hub Janine. You don't know how many women out there you have helped by this writing. love you! thank you for posting!

      sharing this to the world.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Myz, love you too and thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I do hope I have helped other pregnant women with this article, as well as in the future too! Thank you also for sharing too!!

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      Lisa 3 years ago

      Thank you for informative content and clearly ultrasound images. Not only there are different types of sonogram during pregnancy, there are actually 4 types of ultrasound images including 2D, 3D, 4D and Doppler Ultrasound. Ultrasound is also used in various medical purposes, pregnant ultrasound is the most commonly known method. Visit http://www.ultrasoundtechniciancenter.org/ultrasou... to learn more about ultrasound images and visit http://www.ultrasoundtechniciancenter.org/category... to know 12 different ultrasound uses.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      My pleasure Lis and thank you for giving me some more information here on sonograms in general. Very much appreciate that.

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