Ultrasounds during pregnancy
What is the purpose of a pregnancy ultrasound?
It is used to monitor the baby's growth and development and to detect any potential abnormalities. Pregnancy ultrasound, also known as obstetric ultrasound, is a non-invasive medical examination. This means there is no internal probing. On a monitor, you can see real-time images of the mother's uterus. These images are created using harmless ultrasound waves.
An ultrasound is a wonderful moment for parents-to-be. No one forgets the first time they saw their baby. With each subsequent ultrasound, you will see your baby grow and evolve! Please note: as every pregnancy is unique, it is essential to follow medical recommendations from the doctor or gyneacologist.
How many ultrasounds should be done during pregnancy?
In Belgium, it is generally recommended to have three ultrasounds during pregnancy. The frequency of ultrasounds may vary depending on the medical situation of each pregnant woman.
- The dating ultrasound is performed in the first trimester, around the 12th week of the pregnancy. It'll be the first time you'll see your child, the foetus. With the dating ultrasound, the pregancy is confirmed and the doctor will the determine the expected date of birth. This ultrasound can also tell you whether you are pregnant with 1 or more babies. The foetus's neck fold is also checked: this is an area at the base of the skull that does not return an ultrasound and can detect Down syndrome in particular.
- The morphological ultrasound, also known as a screening ultrasound, takes place in the second trimester, between the 20th and 22nd week of the pregnancy. Its primary goal is to assess fetal growth and screen for abnormalities.
During the morphological ultrasound, it is often possible to determine the baby's gender, but this depends on the baby's position and the quality of the obtained images.
- Finally, a few weeks before delivery, around the 32nd week of the pregnancy, the obstetrician or gynecologist ensures that the baby is growing normally and checks the baby's position and the placenta. During this appointment, monitoring is used to assess the baby's heart rate and uterine contractions. After this, it's on to the childbirth!
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How much does an ultrasound cost?
In Belgium, ultrasounds are generally covered by health insurance through health insurance funds (by means of a mandatory health insurance). This means that most of the expenses related to ultrasounds are reimbursed, provided they are performed by an accredited healthcare professional. Budget tip: To avoid additional costs, do not go to a private clinic and do not opt for 3D ultrasounds.
Your health insurance fund, midwife, or gyneacologist will provide information on ultrasound reimbursement!
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What other medical tests should be done during pregnancy?
(Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing) The NIPT is a blood test that is highly recommended and fully reimbursed. This test is conducted starting from the 10th week of pregnancy to detect certain chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.
Thanks to the NIPT test, you can determine with certainty whether you will give birth to a girl or a boy (but of course, you can also decide not to know!).
The test to detect gestational diabetes
This screening for gestational diabetes typically takes place between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. You drink a sweet solution to measure your blood sugar level after a certain period. Gestational diabetes can increase the risks of complications for both the mother and the baby, so it's important to screen for and treat it quickly.
During an amniocentesis, a small amount of amniotic fluid (the fluid surrounding the baby) is collected. Its analysis reveals whether there is a chromosomal or genetic anomaly in the fetus. This examination is only offered to expectant mothers who have an increased risk of complications or who have a family history of genetic diseases.
Don't hesitate to ask questions!
Your gynaecologist and midwife are there to make sure the baby is healthy. But they are also there to listen to you and guide you step by step. So be sure not to hesitate to share any question or concern you have with them.
Your pregnancy adventure is unique! Share your feelings with your partner and family. Exchange experiences. And above all: trust in yourself. Good luck!