Dear Ms Ultrasound,
I am now 23-weeks pregnant. I haven't had an ultrasound scan yet. I am planning to take a scan after going to India at about 26-weeks pregnant. Is it okay to have a scan at that time?
There are many reasons to have an ultrasound -- from past pregnancies that had complications, to a worrisome genetic history, to being 35 or over, to just wanting to know the sex. Having an ultrasound at 26 weeks can tell you many things about your unborn child.
What you can't do at this stage of pregnancy, is terminate the pregnancy if a syndrome was found that wasn't compatible with life. That is one of the reasons to have a scan before 21 weeks.
At our facility, we will scan around 16 weeks for our higher risk patients. If an abnormality is found, an amniocentesis is suggested. This test takes a sample of amniotic fluid (the fluid surrounding the fetus) and tests it for chromosomal defects.
The mother then has a choice to terminate if the fetus would not be compatible with life or had something like Down's syndrome. Some women choose to go to term no matter what and are comforted with the knowledge gained from the tests.
In your case, and most cases of a 26-week, first time scan, we would check the fetus thoroughly, all its organs, its heart, count arms, legs, measure amniotic fluid and make sure the fetus is growing appropriately from your last menstrual period.
Of course, at 26 weeks you will be able to determine the sex of your child, if that is something you would like to know and get a first picture of your child. Those are the fun parts of having an ultrasound.
Because you are past the 21-week cut off for termination, (which is law in my state of Hawaii) waiting a few more weeks shouldn't be a problem.
Have fun on your trip.
-- Jane Foley, RDMS
Jane Foley has worked as a Sonographer (Ultrasound Technologist) since 1979. Jane has lived and worked in many parts of the world including Saudi Arabia. She is a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer or RDMS. She pulls a wealth of information from her experience in the field of Radiology and her interactions with such a broad cross-section of cultures she has visited. She now makes her home on the island of Maui with her English husband, Michael.