Having a baby is one of the most exciting and wonderful times of your life. Of course, for new moms especially, it can also feel overwhelming. This is a whole new experience, where your body will do amazing things and challenge you in ways you’ve never experienced before. Sometimes, even the basics feel intimidating—for instance, what can you expect from an ultrasound?
At OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, we’re here to provide you with all the information you need to put your mind at ease. We also use state-of-the-art technology to ensure that you get the clearest possible picture of your baby’s health and progress. So, let’s dive into the basics of ultrasounds.
How Many Ultrasounds Will I Have During My Pregnancy?
While you’ll come in to visit your obstetrician (OB) quite frequently throughout your pregnancy, we typically perform only two ultrasounds: one in the first trimester and one in the second. These two scans usually provide mom and doctor with all the information they need to ensure the baby is healthy and progressing on track.
We generally only schedule ultrasounds in the third trimester if we identify problems in the initial two scans, or if you have a medical issue like diabetes or hypertension.
Your First Ultrasound: Confirming the Basics
When you find out you’re pregnant, you should call your OB straight away to schedule your first prenatal appointment. At that appointment, or shortly thereafter, we’ll perform your first ultrasound. Generally, this happens 7 to 8 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period.
During your first ultrasound, we will determine how far along you are and provide a due date. Though babies have a way of setting their own schedules, accurate dating of pregnancy is important to provide the best possible care plan for you and your child.
We’ll also check the baby’s life signs—this will be your first opportunity to hear your little one’s heartbeat! Finally, we’ll confirm whether you’re carrying one baby or multiples.
Your Second Ultrasound: Gender and Anatomy
Your second ultrasound appointment will happen at 18 to 22 weeks, or during the second trimester. We can determine the baby’s sex at this point if you haven’t opted for SneakPeek testing or an early gender scan (we’ll talk more about those options below!). During this scan, we also check the size and position of the baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid.
We can detect major birth defects at this stage, such as heart, brain, and spinal cord problems. However, this ultrasound usually can’t detect minor disorders or other genetic conditions your baby may have at birth.
When Will I Know My Baby’s Gender?
When you find out if you’re having a boy or a girl depends on whether you opt for an early gender scan or SneakPeek genetic testing, both available here at OB/GYN Associates of Alabama.
Early Gender Scan
Because we use state-of-the-art ultrasound machines, we can determine your baby’s gender as early as 12 weeks! Our expert sonographers know exactly what to look for to determine whether the fetus is male or female using this advanced technology and their specialty training.
SneakPeek DNA Testing
If you’d like an even earlier gender reveal, SneakPeek Genetic testing can tell you as early as 7 weeks! With this 99.9% accurate DNA test, you can learn your baby’s gender and certain other genetic traits as soon as the next day after you visit the office. All we do is take a simple blood draw in the office. Then, we email you the results as soon as they arrive!
Should I Get a 3D or 4D Ultrasound?
We offer both 3D and 4D ultrasounds here at OB/GYN Associates of Alabama. A 3D ultrasound shows you a clear and detailed image of your baby’s face and other features. You can schedule one to get an early look at your new family member—or debate who he or she looks most like! We may also recommend a 3D ultrasound to investigate any abnormalities.
A 4D ultrasound does the same, plus shows your little one’s movement in the womb. Depending on the baby’s position, we could catch a glimpse of a smile, yawn, or wriggling hands and toes. While optional, a 4D ultrasound is an intimate first glance at your child that new families can always cherish.
For the best results, we usually recommend these scans be performed within the range of 26 to 34 weeks (late second to early third trimester).
How Do I Prepare for My Ultrasounds?
There’s usually nothing you have to do to prepare for your ultrasounds—just plan to be away from work for at least 45 minutes, if necessary. If we do need to perform any special testing that requires further preparation, we’ll be sure to let you know well in advance.
You’re welcome to bring a small number of friends and family members with you! Please just check with the front desk first to confirm space, availability, and up-to-date Covid-19 protocols before you arrive.
What If I Still Have Questions?
Pregnancy is both an exciting and challenging time, and we know you’ll have lots of questions for us. We’re always here to talk through any concerns, no matter how small they may seem. Please don’t hesitate to reach out—everyone here at OB/GYN Associates of Alabama is dedicated to making this special time in your life as comfortable, understandable, and joyous as possible.
The Most Advanced Pregnancy Ultrasound Options for Women in the Birmingham Metro
We love helping growing families get to know their new additions early on. With early gender scans, SneakPeek genetic testing, and 3D/4D ultrasounds, we offer women in the Birmingham metro area the most advanced glances into their pregnancy journey. If you’re seeking a new obstetrician to be by your side every step of the way, schedule an appointment with us today at our Birmingham, Hoover, or Gardendale location.