First-trimester ultrasound (also called early ultrasound) is a prenatal test that uses sound waves to show a picture of your baby in the uterus (womb). Some providers may use this kind of ultrasound to make sure your baby’s organs are growing and developing normally.
Your health care provider uses it to check your baby’s health. A first-trimester ultrasound takes place before 14 weeks of pregnancy.
The kind of first-trimester ultrasound you have depends on the type of information your provider needs. Your provider usually does ultrasound by moving a plastic tool, called a transducer, across your belly. This is called transabdominal ultrasound. You also can have a transvaginal ultrasound, which means it’s done in the vagina (birth canal). Both kinds usually take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Your provider can use first-trimester ultrasound to:
- Make sure you’re pregnant
- Check your baby’s heartbeat and health. Your baby’s age and growth helps your provider figure out your due date.
- Look for twins, triplets or more
- Examine your ovaries and uterus
- Check for pregnancy problems, including ectopic or molar pregnancy, miscarriage, vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain
- Find or remove an intrauterine device
- Screen for birth defects, like neural tube defects or Down syndrome
- Use along with another prenatal test, like chorionic villus sampling
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