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Pregnancy & Newborns

Prenatal Ultrasound

Healthcare provider performing ultrasound on pregnant woman.

Ultrasound is a common prenatal procedure used even in low-risk pregnancies to confirm your due date or evaluate your baby’s health. If there are any concerns that your baby may be at risk, ultrasound can help provide the information your healthcare provider needs to give you the best possible prenatal care.

Using sound to see your baby

During ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves pass through your body and your baby. Some of those sound waves reflect off your baby and return to the handheld device called a transducer. This gives the information back to the ultrasound machine, which creates a visual image on the monitor. You can't hear the sound waves, but the ultrasound equipment can. 

During ultrasound of the stomach

While you lie down on the exam table, a layer of gel or oil is applied to your stomach so the sound waves more easily reach your baby. Then the transducer is slowly moved back and forth over your stomach. The procedure is painless and takes less than half an hour.

During vaginal ultrasound

The transducer is covered with a condom or other sterile latex or nonlatex shield. Then it is inserted, like a tampon, into your vagina. You should have little discomfort during the test. It usually takes less than half an hour to complete.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2017
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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