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Getting Ultrasounds During Pregnancy


couple in hospital, pregnant woman getting an ultrasound


It’s likely you’ll have an ultrasound at least once during pregnancy. This scan lets you know how your baby is developing and when the due date might be. Here’s what to expect.

A fetal ultrasound provides important medical information about your baby‘s growth and expected due date. The ultrasound is a scan that uses sound waves to produce images of your fetus in the womb. A specialist physician (usually a radiologist) reviews the images and creates a report to send to your health care provider. Your health care provider will then go over the results with you.

It’s safe to have an ultrasound while pregnant, but it is a medical procedure and should only be done for medical reasons.

Types of Ultrasounds

There are two types of ultrasounds:

  • External ultrasound (transabdominal): this is done by a technologist who places a wand (transducer) on your belly.
  • Internal ultrasound (endovaginal): this is done by a technologist who gently places a narrow wand (transducer) into the vagina in order to view the lower part of your uterus. Talk to your health care provider if this type of scan makes you uncomfortable.

Your health care provider will recommend what ultrasound is best for you based on your circumstances.

Finding Out if Your Baby is a Girl or a Boy

The genitals (sex organs) of your baby are usually seen as part of the detailed look at your baby’s anatomy during the second trimester scan (between 18 and 22 weeks). If your baby is in a position where their genitals can be clearly seen, the sex (male or female) will be listed on the final report.

The technologist performing the ultrasound is not able to give you information about what they see. You can get the results of the scan from your health care provider, and with your permission, they can tell you whether your baby is a boy or a girl. Remember, ultrasounds are not always correct in determining the sex of your baby.

If you don’t want to know the sex of your baby, let your health care provider and the ultrasound technologist know.

Getting Ultrasound pictures

You may be able to get photos of your ultrasound from clinics that perform medically indicated 2D ultrasound scans. Ask about photos and how much it costs when you check in for your ultrasound.

Did you know? You may have one or more ultrasound scans during your pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may send you for one in your first trimester, second trimester or later in your third trimester to help create the best care plan for you and your growing fetus.

Resources and Links:

Fetal Ultrasound
BC Prenatal Genetic Screening Program for more information.
Health Canada: Fetal Ultrasound for Keepsake Purposes 

Last Updated: July 24, 2014