Ultrasounds, both traditional and 3-D, have revolutionized pregnancy in the modern era. For one thing, doctors have the ability to detect certain defects and medical conditions before a baby is born, which can improve the outcome for both mother and baby. As a parent, it might be an exciting experience for you to see what your baby is doing inside your womb.
Unfortunately, many pregnant women are faced with a plethora of inaccurate information about ultrasounds, too. Old wives’ tales from grandma, rumors between friends, and concerns from her mother commonly surround a pregnant woman. She is then forced to figure out whether or not an ultrasound is a good thing for her and her unborn baby.
Here are some myths about pregnancy ultrasound and the truth to them:
- Ultrasounds are bad for the baby : So far, there has not been any evidence whatsoever that ultrasounds are harmful to the baby. Ultrasounds have been around for over 25 years and they are a common procedure conducted for pregnancy. Furthermore, ultrasounds are the most widely used medical imaging method for viewing the fetus during pregnancy. According to the FDA, ultrasounds have an excellent safety record and do not have the same risks as X-rays or other types of imaging systems that use ionizing radiation. For this very reason, most medical professionals think that ultrasounds are very safe for a fetus. Your doctor might have medical reasons if he/she is asking you to take more than the average number of ultrasounds that most women need during their pregnancy.
- Ultrasounds use radiation : This is absolutely not true. X-Rays use radiation. Instead, ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves that bounce around and produce pictures of the inside of the body to create a picture of the body’s internal structures. The ultrasound image is produced based on the reflection of the waves off of the body structures. Also, an ultrasound cannot penetrate through bone, or gas in the intestines, but passes readily through fluid. Plus, they do not use ionizing radiation and are safe and noninvasive. X-rays should not be used on pregnant women because of their use of radiation, but ultrasounds do not pose the same risks.
- Ultrasounds aren’t invasive. Ultrasounds done completely outside of the body are known as transabdominal ultrasounds. In this, the doctor applies a gel to your abdominal area and use a probe to produce the images by drawing it along your abdomen. This is a non-invasive method, however, it is not the only ultrasound method used. Sometimes, your doctor might recommend a trans-vaginal ultrasound, which is an invasive method and requires equipment to enter your body. It is generally used to get a better picture of the pelvic area, to observe fetal heartbeat in early pregnancy, or to get a better view of the uterine wall lining.
- No ultrasounds should be done in the first 12 weeks : This myth probably arises due to the misconception people have about the use of radiation in an ultrasound. Naturally, most mothers would not like to put their babies at risk during the early stages of pregnancy. However, there is no proof to suggest that an early ultrasound can have an adverse effect on the fetus. Most doctors recommend an early scan at 8 weeks to look for fetal heart beat and then a NT scan at 11 weeks.
- 5. Do not eat before an ultrasound : There’s a myth that eating before an ultrasound can cause obstruction and will give inaccurate results. In most cases, it is perfectly fine to eat before an ultrasound. However, if your doctor asks you not to eat for a certain amount of time before your ultrasound, they might have a reason for the same and you’d do well to follow their advice.
- You need a full bladder for an ultrasound : Pregnant women feel the need to pee all the time, and holding on to a full bladder might seem like a difficult thing to do. Doctors suggest a full bladder if you’re getting an ultrasound when you’re less 12 weeks pregnant. This allows for better imaging of the small fetus. Between 12 to 24 weeks, some urine is helpful, and after 24 weeks, it doesn’t matter. Thus, you don’t need to have a full bladder for an ultrasound.
- 3-D ultrasounds use stronger sound waves than 2-D ultrasounds. Actually, a 3-D ultrasound is a deluxe version of a 2-D ultrasound. The same frequency of sound waves is used but they are used to create multiple 2-D pictures that the computer assembles into a 3-D representation. 3D ultrasounds provide more detail and depth in its imaging than a 2D ultrasound. A 3D ultrasound shows a more enhanced image and is more accurate in catching physical birth defects such as cleft lip, misshapen limbs or problems with spinal cord.
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