Once a pregnancy has been confirmed, an ultrasound will be scheduled. It's the first opportunity for the surrogate and Intended Parents to see the baby. It's one of the most exciting benchmarks in the surrogacy journey, but a lot of people aren't sure exactly what ultrasounds are, when they happen, and what to expect.
What Are Ultrasounds?
An ultrasound is a medical technique that uses sound waves. The sound waves bounce off an object to create a 2-dimensional image. As relates to pregnancy, the sound waves bounce off the fetus to create baby’s earliest pictures. Ultrasounds are required periodically throughout pregnancy.
What to Expect During an Ultrasound
During an ultrasound, the surrogate can expect to have some warm gel applied to her belly. The ultrasound technician will then rub a wand, also known as a transducer, over the gel/stomach area. The sound waves omitted from the wand bounce back and create an image on a screen that can be viewed by anyone in the office at that time. Ultrasounds offer a first look at baby.
Typically, the first ultrasound is scheduled during the first trimester, between 6-9 weeks pregnant. This initial ultrasound serves three main purposes: confirms the baby’s heartbeat, determines whether the fetus is implanted properly in the uterus or if it is ectopic, and better estimates the baby’s due date by measuring the length of the fetus. For any new intended parents, hearing baby’s heartbeat for the first time is a moment that will stay close to their hearts forever! Worth noting, while the image will be the same, sometimes this ultrasound requires a transducer to be inserted into the vagina.
Expect another ultrasound during the second trimester, typically between weeks 18-22. This ultrasound is slightly more official and is usually conducted at a hospital. The second trimester ultrasound serves the following purposes: checks baby’s development and determines whether everything looks as it should or if something developmentally is not on track and will require additional monitoring; the technician and doctor will check the location of the placenta, the level of amniotic fluid and baby’s developing organs; the second trimester ultrasound is also a time to learn baby’s gender, for any IPs who want to know.
Are They Safe?
An ultrasound is a safe procedure for the surrogate and the child. While no doctor is going to recommend any pregnant woman have an ultrasound each day, the few times it is required will not harm the fetus or the carrier.
Having said that, ultrasounds should only be performed by trained, medical professionals and should only be scheduled when advised by your OB.
How Many to Expect
Typically, the first trimester and second trimester ultrasounds will be the only ones. However, if the pregnancy is considered high-risk, including when the surrogate is carrying multiples, additional ultrasounds may be scheduled. In the case of multiple fetuses, additional ultrasounds will monitor the babies’ growth and development. In the case of other high-risk pregnancies, additional ultrasounds check to make sure all is well.