A trimester pregnant woman

The importance of ultrasound examinations

Pregnant women routinely undergo ultrasound examination. This examination is usually a happy moment and the parents often come away with their “first selfie” of their new baby. The ultrasound, however, has a very important diagnostic function which can provide critical information to the new parents regarding the health of their baby.

At Kathleen’s Mother and Baby Unit, we generally require our patients to undergo 3 ultrasound examinations. You will go for these scans at our In-house Sonographer, at 12-14 weeks, 20-22 weeks and at 32 weeks. Should you be a VBAC patient, you will also be required to go for an ultrasound at 36 weeks.

We are regularly asked why our patients should use our In-house Sonographer, 4D Scan. Well, there is only one answer to this : They are professionals!

You might be able to do an ultrasound examination somewhere else at a lesser price, but we need to ensure that you don’t only get cute pictures, but that the assessments during your pregnancy, described below is done by a professional.

A little bit more about 4D Scan

4D Scan was established in 2007 by Heidi Richter and Isabel Coetzee. They are two internationally qualified sonographers with a special interest in Obstetrics (Baby Scans). They have since put together an A-grade team of Sonographers.

With technology advancing a further need arose – for doctors and midwives to refer their patients to a trusted professional institute, where they can get key results that will enable them to manage their patient’s pregnancy, and make important decisions to ensure the best possible outcome in each case.

Why is it then important for an ultrasound examination?

An ultrasound can be used for a variety of reasons during pregnancy. Your Midwife may also order more ultrasound examinations if they detected a problem in a previous examination or blood test. Ultrasounds may also be done for nonmedical reasons, such as to produce images for the parents or to determine the sex of the baby.

On its most basic level, ultrasound imaging is used to assess a developing pregnancy for the following:

  • Confirm the pregnancy
  • Gestational age
    A normal pregnancy is popularly thought of as 40 weeks gestation. However, in medical terms, a term pregnancy is anywhere from 37 to 41 weeks. It is important to verify the gestational age of the developing fetus for several reasons. For example, the growth of the baby will be measured against well-established growth charts to ensure normal development. Gestational age will be verified against the dates provided by the mother regarding her last menstrual period to confirm the due date and ensure that the baby is not delivered either too early or too late.
  • Check for multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc)
    A pregnancy with multiple babies carry special risks and must be monitored on a regular basis. Complications such as a “twin to twin transfusion” and cervical incompetence require prompt attention if complications are to be avoided.
  • Problems with the placenta
    During pregnancy the position of the placenta within the uterus can be vitally important to the health of both the baby and, in some circumstances, the mother. An ultrasound can determine complications such as: placenta previa, vasa previaplacenta accrete, placenta increta, and placenta percreta.
  • Monitor fetal position
    During delivery it can be important to know the baby’s position because it can affect the method of delivery.
  • Check for congenital anomalies
    Many parents will want to know if their baby suffers from any congenital or genetic problems, so they can terminate the pregnancy or prepare for the difficulties associated with the particular problem.
  • Monitor fetal growth
    If the growth of the baby falls off expected norms this can be indicative of problems with the placenta or problems with the health of the baby. Either way, early intervention may be required in order to deal with the problem.
  • Monitor the level of amniotic fluid
    Amniotic fluid is produced by the fetus. Too much or too little amniotic fluid may be indicative of problems with pregnancy which may require intervention.

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