Incidence: More than one in 10 women suffer with anxiety during pregnancy.
Most of us will feel at least a little but anxious at some point during pregnancy. It is normal to worry about our babies, what the birth will be like, or whether we’ll experience any complications.
Changes in the levels of hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone over the month can affect everything from your mood to your digestion.
Some pregnant women feel distressed or guilty about feeling anxious or panicky when everyone expects them to be happy.
Pregnant women want reassurance and to check that all is normal by verifying foetal life and growth and to exclude foetal abnormalities.
Seeing your baby on an ultrasound can be a wonderful way to alleviate some of your worries, so it can be a good idea to arrange a reassurance scan if you’re feeling anxious.
You’ll get peace of mind from having your baby’s growth and development checked again.
What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a scan that uses high frequency sound waves to study internal body structures. The sound waves are emitted from a vibrating crystal in a handheld scanner. The reflected sound waves or ‘echoes’ are then translated into a two-dimensional and three- dimensional image on a monitor.
What will Ultrasound show?
Ultrasound is used during pregnancy to check the baby’s development and to help pick up any abnormalities. Since the procedure can’t produce high quality images, any suspected abnormalities need to be confirmed with other tests. The ultrasound scan isn’t 100 per cent accurate, but the advantages of the test are that it’s non-invasive, painless and safe for both mother and unborn baby.
The parents are given immediate access to the images of the foetus, which may promote maternal attachment and positive attitudes toward health during the pregnancy.
During ultrasound scans with us, women can see the screen and they receive detailed explanations of the images.
Ultrasound may be used at various points during pregnancy, including:
• First trimester - ultrasound performed within the first three months of pregnancy is used to check that the embryo is developing inside the womb (rather than inside a fallopian tube, for example), confirm the number of embryos, and calculate the gestational age and the baby’s due date.
• Second trimester - ultrasound performed between weeks 18 and 20 is used to check the development of foetal structures such as the spine, limbs, brain and internal organs. The size and location of the placenta is also checked. The baby’s sex can be established, if the parents wish to know.
• Third trimester - ultrasound performed after 30 weeks is used to check that the baby is continuing to grow at a normal rate. The location of the placenta is checked to make sure it isn’t blocking the cervix.
However, you should remember that the ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure and, in some cases, it may suggest that a foetus has an abnormality. Further tests are usually needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Is having Ultrasound scans safe in pregnancy?
It has been assumed that the routine use of ultrasound in early pregnancy will result in the earlier detection of problems and improved management of pregnancy complications when compared with selective use for specific indications such as after clinical complications (e.g. bleeding in early pregnancy), or where there are concerns about foetal growth.
Long-term follow-up of children exposed to scans before birth did not indicate that scans have a detrimental effect on children's physical or intellectual development. Studies were carried out over three decades and technical advances in equipment, more widespread use of ultrasonography, and increased training and expertise of operators may have resulted in more effective sonography.