Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pregnancy Ultrasound Scans - Transvaginal or Abdominal


I am in my ninth week and was yet to have my first scan. For my first two pregnancies, I had done only abdominal scans. But this time the Doctor asked me to get a pre-natal vaginal scan done.  My first thought was “well, here we go again.”

The one thing about pregnancies is how you gradually end up losing all sense of shame and modesty. The first time I had to have an internal check up done, in my first pregnancy, it was only in the ninth month. I was so embarrassed and nervous about it and more so because my gynaecologist was a male doctor. But then he was so professional about it and it was over so quickly that I felt absolutely fine.  Finally on your delivery day, the team of doctors, the nurses and even the ayahs keeping poking between your legs all day long; but you will be way beyond caring about any of it. There is no sense of shame or embarrassment on that one particular day. But once the baby was born and I was discharged from the hospital, I found it embarrassing to go in to check whether my episiotomy stitches were healing well.

Anyway, back to the prenatal scans. I did an online research about it and these are my conclusions. The links give a more detailed version. Ultrasound is quite safe because there are no harmful radiations and is a must have to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Transvaginal scan: In the early weeks of pregnancy the baby is too small and low in the abdomen to be picked up by an abdominal scan. A vaginal scan is done by introducing a probe into the vagina which can pick up better images of the baby. A full bladder will obstruct the view of the baby, so you will be asked to empty your bladder. A suspected ectopic pregnancy is the only good reason to have a scan before six weeks. If your periods are irregular or if you’ve had a miscarriage you might be asked to have an early scan done. The doctor might also want to verify the baby’s heartbeat.

Abdominal scan: After the tenth week, only abdominal scans are performed. Some cold gel is applied on your stomach and a hand held probe is used to see the images of your baby. You will need a full bladder to push the uterus up to get a better image of the baby.

At the scanning centre I was asked to lie down on the bed next to the scanning machine and the doctor after consulting my chart prepared to do an abdominal scan. Though I wasn’t too keen on it, I nervously insisted that my Doctor had insisted on a vaginal scan. He reassured me saying that since I had already entered my ninth week, the abdominal scan would be clear enough and if it wasn’t, then he would perform the vaginal scan. As luck would have it, the abdominal scan was very clear. The baby was dated closer to 10 weeks and was 3 cm long. I was shown the image of my baby lying in the uterus.

 The first sight of the little life growing in your womb gives you this amazing sense of wonder. The baby feels real for the first time. It looked like a small baby lying alone in an oval room. Two hands, two legs and I could even make out the impression of his facial features. He was lying face up. I love these first prenatal scans; it’s only in them that you see a full baby. The second scan which is usually done in the fifth month shows only enlarged body parts which half the time doesn't look like anything to your inexperienced eye.

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