What Can a Free Ultrasound Tell Me?

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When you become pregnant, you will likely have at least two ultrasounds before the baby arrives. These are to confirm the pregnancy and health of the fetus, and later to ensure his or her continued growth. Most of the time, these occur at the beginning and then during the first half of the second trimester, although it is not uncommon to have more.

If you have just found out you are pregnant, this first ultrasound can help you determine your due date and confirm heartbeat. A free ultrasound from the Pregnancy Centers of Middle Tennessee can also tell you how many fetuses you are carrying and whether or not the pregnancy is in the uterus. Rarely, a pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus and will require emergency medical treatment.

What to expect at a free ultrasound screening

A free ultrasound at Pregnancy Centers of Middle Tennessee can take place as early as six weeks. Before this, an ultrasound may detect the fetal sac, but six weeks is the soonest a heartbeat can reliably be detected. This scan is not painful, although it may be uncomfortable. Your first ultrasound may be done with a special wand, which is coated with a lubricating gel and then inserted into the vagina. Your bladder must be full when an ultrasound is performed early in the pregnancy to move the uterus into a better spot, which is closer to the sonogram tools and away from the bowels. When it is over, you will be able to resume normal activities.

What to expect during a second-trimester ultrasound

Once you have established prenatal care, your OB/GYN will likely schedule an ultrasound for around 20 weeks. This scan can tell you much more about the health and development of your baby. It will be compared to your first ultrasound to determine if the fetus is growing at the normal rate. This ultrasound will also measure amniotic fluid and check that the placenta is in the correct position. During this scan, you may be able to find out the sex of the baby and see his or her hands, feet, heart, and organs. Usually, a second-trimester ultrasound is done from outside of the abdomen.

Sometimes, your doctor will request additional ultrasounds. It is not uncommon for women to have up to five of these exams, especially if there are complications. You may receive an ultrasound at 40 weeks if you do not show signs of going into labor.

When you do an online search for “pregnancy center near me,” you’ll find many options. Before making a decision, take some time to ensure that your long-term care provider offers onsite ultrasounds. Some will send you to another doctor's office. Having the sonographer and equipment in the office, or at least on the same campus, is more convenient and will ensure that you have easy access to the service if multiple ultrasounds are needed.