Cheryl Carroll, Midwifery at WHA discusses the use of ultrasounds for a normal pregnancy.

Hi, My name is Cheryl Carroll, certified nurse midwife with Midwifery at Women’s Health Alliance and today I wanted to talk to you about ultrasounds. Most people are surprised at the number of ultrasounds we typically do in a normal pregnancy with normal women. And that is two.

One, we do one for dating and hopefully we can do that in the first trimester. And it gives us a pretty accurate timeframe of what your due date is. We all look pretty much alike during that first trimester, and whether or not you are six weeks or eight weeks or ten weeks; no matter how long your cycles or how short your cycles, it is pretty easy to date your pregnancy by that so that we don’t rush into things and do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do because we are uncertain of your due date.

So first trimester ultrasound is pretty firm in getting an accurate due date for you. After that, after that first trimester, your little one begins to take on the characteristics that genetics gives from mom and dad and from mom’s nutritional status. And so sometimes you’ll get bigger babies or smaller babies and they [the ultrasounds] become less reliable as far as dating goes.

The second ultrasound that we typically do is one to look at the baby’s anatomy, which is done at almost the halfway point, so somewhere between 18 to 20 weeks. And so we look at the structures of the brain; we look at the stomach; we look at the chambers of the heart, the bladder, the kidneys, and we do measurements to see how little one is growing. And then after that, as long as the pregnancy is normal, there are typically no other routine ultrasounds. But should mom have any problem such as bleeding during her pregnancy, or if she develops high blood pressure or if she develops diabetes or any type of problem that might alter little one’s growth or little one’s health progress, then sometimes ultrasounds are warranted for that.

And I know that people frequently ask, “Well, am I gonna have another ultrasound? I would just love to see what my baby looks like.” Rest assured that you will see that baby in your arms soon and to be patient and wait. But as long as things are normal and you do not have any underlying healthcare problem or a health problem that is impacting your pregnancy, we typically just do those two ultrasounds.