After seeing that positive pregnancy test, one of the most exciting things about being pregnant is seeing your growing baby. Many women and their partners look forward to that first prenatal ultrasound — but it’s normal to have questions about what to expect, especially if this is your first pregnancy.
A prenatal ultrasound is an important diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves to create images of the fetus in your uterus. Marc Wilson, MD, and our team at OB/GYN Specialists use ultrasound to check on your developing baby, and we typically schedule the first scan around 8-10 weeks of pregnancy.
If you’re scheduled for your first prenatal visit, here's what you can expect from your first ultrasound.
What happens during your first prenatal ultrasound
When you call our office to tell us you’re pregnant, we use the first day of your last menstrual period to estimate how far along you are in pregnancy. We usually schedule the first prenatal appointment around eight weeks.
This is an important time because the embryo has now become a fetus, and it’s possible to see and hear its heartbeat for the first time. Your first ultrasound is also known as a dating ultrasound, because it helps us determine your baby’s due date.
Before your procedure, your technician explains the process and what you can expect. We help you get comfortable on an examination table, and we start the procedure.
There are two main types of prenatal ultrasound: vaginal and abdominal. Vaginal ultrasounds involve inserting a small transducer into your vaginal canal to see your baby, while abdominal ultrasounds use a transducer over your stomach.
Your technician guides the transducer, which transmits sound waves into your abdomen. The sound waves bounce off the fetus and create an image of your baby on a computer screen.
During the procedure, you may feel some pressure or discomfort as the technician moves the transducer to see your baby. However, the procedure should be painless, so tell us if you feel any pain.
You can expect your ultrasound to take around 30 minutes. You may also be able to see the images of your baby on a monitor in the exam room, and some systems allow photos to be saved and printed.
What you see during your ultrasound
During your first prenatal ultrasound, your technician looks at your fetus to determine several important factors. What they can see depends on how far along you are and your baby’s positioning. A few common things we look for are:
- Gestational age
- Fetal heartbeat
- Number of fetuses
- Presence of abnormalities
- Amniotic fluid levels
At your first ultrasound, your baby is still very small. We measure your baby to determine gestational age and check for the heartbeat. In many cases, you’re able to hear your baby's heartbeat and see the first images of your little one. This can be both an emotional and exciting moment!
What to expect after your first ultrasound
Once your ultrasound is done, you meet with Dr. Wilson to discuss the results. He goes over the images and discusses any abnormalities or concerns. If everything looks normal, we’ll schedule your next prenatal visit in about one month.
Most women with healthy pregnancies get another ultrasound at around 20 weeks. In some cases, we may order additional ultrasounds to monitor your baby's progress throughout the pregnancy.
Prenatal ultrasound is a safe, noninvasive way to monitor your baby’s growth and development. At OB/GYN Specialists, we’re here to guide you through the journey. Schedule your first prenatal appointment in Denton, Texas, at 940-202-0301 or send us a message online today.