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Ultrasounds during pregnancy

Ultrasounds during pregnancy is something that some parents are just not sure of. As Midwives, we typically do not send our clients for many ultrasounds. In other settings, ultrasounds are standard and done at every visit. We like to keep them to a minimum if all exams are healthy and within normal throughout the pregnancy. We do however understand the benefits of having access to ultrasounds and needing them for certain situations. One way that we know ahead of the birth if there could be any abnormalities or risk factors is by sending our moms for their anatomy ultrasound between 18-22 weeks. This is a very important ultrasound that checks many things. The sonographer will examine the placenta, the amount of amniotic fluid present and if there are any abnormal findings. It checks the development of your baby's organs and body parts and can detect certain congenital defects. In most cases, you can learn the sex of your baby during this ultrasound. They are looking for many things. Did you know that the umbilical cord has 3 vessels in it? This is described as a 3 vessel cord. The vessels are two arteries and one vein. The vein brings in oxygen and nutrients to the baby from the mother. The arteries are used to transport waste away from the baby to the mother via the placenta. The waste is then filtered through the maternal kidneys. These 3 vessels are important for the well being of your baby.

The sonographer will try to see both the arteries and veins during your exam. Babies with a two-vessel cord may also be at higher risk for not growing properly. This could include preterm delivery, slower-than-normal fetal growth or IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction), or stillbirth. They are also looking for things such as cord insertion on the placenta, if any cyst or fibroids are present and they also look at the length of the cervix. Through the Anatomy ultrasound, your provider will know where your placenta is located. This information is extremally important especially for a vaginal birth. We want to know if the placenta is anterior, posterior, low lying or is it a total previa. Placenta previa is when the placenta is covering the cervix therefore making it dangerous for a vaginal birth. In most cases the placenta will move out of the way as the uterus grows and stretches. This would be one of the reasons to have follow up ultrasounds to monitor the placenta and its placement. The anatomy ultrasound is a very in depth and detailed ultrasound that is recommended to help rule out many risk factors and to ensure the well being of the mother and her unborn baby. So ultrasounds can be scary but they can also be helpful and comforting in knowing all of these things prior to birth.

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