Ultrasonagraphy provides a picture of a fetus by means of bouncing high-frequency sound waves off the baby. It is useful for dating the pregnancy, checking for major abnormalities, to see if there is more than one baby, locating the placenta and assessing the cause in cases of bleeding in pregnancy. It is routine in many hospitals at around 16 weeks of pregnancy, and you may be under pressure to accept a scan even if you are having your baby at home.
The actual procedure involves lying on your back on a narrow trolley while a blunt probe is scanned across your abdomen, which is lubricated with conductive gel. A sometimes blurred picture is built up on a nearby screen. It is possible to freeze the picture so that specific measurements of the baby can be made to assess the gestational age.
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