One of the most exciting times in pregnancy is visiting your OBGYN to have an obstetric ultrasound. It is so neat to get to see your baby in the womb. But, if it is your first time having an ultrasound, you probably have some questions such as can you eat before an ultrasound? By the time you finish reading this article, you will have that answer and more!
I remember all the stress and excitement of ultrasound visits. I also remember hearing all sorts of do’s and don’ts that I later found out were not true. I’m here to help you avoid this same confusion. Having an ultrasound should be a special time rather than a stressful one.
Why Do You Have Ultrasounds During Pregnancy?
According to Baby Center, “It allows your healthcare practitioner to gather valuable information about the progress of your pregnancy and your baby's health.” Essentially, an ultrasound is a way to make sure your baby is developing as he/she should in the womb.
Ultrasounds are used throughout pregnancy, but they are used for first-trimester fetal scans, as well as comprehensive fetal anatomy and growth scans. Ultrasounds make it easier to identify fetal abnormalities.
How Does an Ultrasound Work?
Most women are familiar with transabdominal ultrasounds. In this type of ultrasound, the mother is asked to lift her shirt and an ultrasound gel is rubbed on her abdomen. This is the ultrasound where the sonographer uses a special handheld device across the mother’s abdomen.
The handheld device will use high frequency sound waves to capture images inside the womb. The sonographer will move the tool around to capture various images of the fetus that will show on a computer screen.
In some cases, women may have to have a transvaginal ultrasound. This type of ultrasound is generally done in the very early part of pregnancy when the fetus is still too small to see with a traditional transabdominal ultrasound. In this ultrasound, the small probe is inserted into the vagina to capture images.
What Are the Risks Associated with Ultrasounds?
There are few, if any, risks associated with ultrasounds. Multiple studies have been done which show ultrasounds do not harm babies or cause development issues. However, doctors still suggest ultrasounds should only be used for medical purposes since ultrasound is using a form of energy. Basically, don’t have ultrasounds just for fun.
Can I Eat or Drink Before an Ultrasound?
Ultimately, you need to refer to your doctor’s guidelines and the regulations provided by the clinic where you will have the ultrasound. Doctors seldom tell moms to avoid eating before having an ultrasound unless there is a medical reason.
In fact, women are encouraged to drink water so their bladders will be full before the ultrasound (especially in the earlier parts of pregnancy). A full bladder makes it easier to see the uterus and cervix. Before my ultrasounds, my doctor encouraged me to drink water and eat a healthy snack.
Sometimes moms are concerned about eating before an ultrasound because they have confused this information with that of the Glucose Test. When the time comes to take your glucose test in your pregnancy, you will be asked to fast (or eat a special diet) and will be asked to drink the “juice” the clinic provides. This is completely different from an ultrasound.
I’ve Heard About 3D Ultrasounds. Should I Have One?
You have probably seen advertisements for the 3D and 4D ultrasounds now available to pregnant mothers. Should you have one? While it is very tempting (the images are incredible!), doctors do not think it is a good idea. Currently, doctors only use these advanced forms of technology to check for fetal abnormalities such as cleft lips.
Since the technology is still new, there has not been enough time or research to have determined the lasting effects of these advanced ultrasounds on babies. As with regular ultrasounds, they should not be done for fun, but to serve a purpose. If you still want to see your baby using this type of ultrasound, speak to your doctor.
When Can I Have an Ultrasound to Determine the Sex of the Baby?
Like most moms, you are probably very anxious to find out which ultrasound appointment will allow you to find out the gender of your baby. This varies from one doctor to the next as technology continues to change. Typically, doctor’s offices will not use ultrasound to reveal the gender before 16 weeks with other offices waiting until week 20.
To Wrap Up…
As you get ready to go to your first ultrasound appointment, try to relax! This is a special time. If possible, have a loved one go with you to experience the moment. Feel free to drink water or eat a healthy snack (unless your doctor tells you not to). While you wait, see our tips for dealing with morning sickness.