After you’ve already endured injections, the two week wait and waiting for betas, it can feel overwhelming preparing for your first ultrasound. As a surrogate, with the requirement of having at least one child of your own, you’ll already have an idea of what to expect. However, there are some differences in what you might experience in a first ultrasound with your keeper and your first with your surrogate baby.
What Actually is an Ultrasound?
According to the dictionary, an ultrasound is is medical diagnostic test that uses high frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. The instrument measures the echos as the sound bounces back. In pregnancy, an ultrasound is used to painlessly and safely look into a mother's womb.
6 Weeks VS 8 Weeks
One main difference between your first ultrasound with a keeper and with a surrogate baby, is the timing of the ultrasound. In a non-IVF pregnancy, the first ultrasound usually takes place at your OBGYN’s office at or around 8 weeks pregnant. In an IVF pregnancy, you will already be closely monitored by the IP’s fertility clinic. They will schedule your first ultrasound right around 6 weeks pregnant. Secondly, you will likely have several more ultrasounds as a surrogate, with an IVF pregnancy.
Typically with early ultrasounds, the ultrasound is performed transvaginally. This is where the doctor uses a transvaginal probe (a transducer placed in the vagina). The fetus is deep in the mother's pelvis in early pregnancy—and since sound waves don't pass through bone, a transvaginal ultrasound lets your technologist to view your uterus through the cervix.
The doctor will apply some lubricant and gently insert the ultrasound wand. She will move the device to form the picture she needs on the ultrasound screen. The procedure doesn't hurt, but you might find it uncomfortable in the same way you might find a pelvic exam uncomfortable.
What Can You Expect to See
The doctor will first check to make sure the pregnancy is located in the uterus, otherwise the pregnancy would be considered ectopic and not viable (Don't worry: Ectopic pregnancy occurs only 1 percent of the time). She will check for the pregnancy sack, the yolk sac and the fetus. She will also be able to see if you are pregnant with multiples.
Next the doctor may look for the flickering of the baby’s heartbeat. Most often they will be able to listen to the heartbeat and measure the beats per minute (BPM).
The doctor will need to measure the sac and the fetus to ensure they are growing at the correct rate, according to your last period. It’s ok for the measurement to be off by a few days, as they are very small and hard to measure at this point.
How to Prepare for an Ultrasound
After your appointment is scheduled, the Doctor will inform you of any instructions. Generally, women who are less than 14 weeks pregnant will be asked to fill their bladder to capacity. Sound waves travel better through liquid, so a full bladder improves the quality of an ultrasound during early pregnancy.
Tips for your First Ultrasound
· Bring a support person with you. With as overwhelming as your first ultrasound can be, having someone there can help to calm your nerves.
· Prepare a list of questions for the doctor. In all the excitement, you’re sure to forget one or all of your questions.
· Wear a two-piece outfit. In the case it is decided to perform an abdominal ultrasound, this will be helpful.