An ultrasound is performed on your first prenatal visit. If you are in the first trimester, this ultrasound will be performed vaginally. Your doctor can determine the location of the pregnancy, the gestational age of the fetus, and the viability of the pregnancy.
Between 20-22 weeks, a full anatomic survey of the fetus will be done. At this point, the baby is large enough to see the details of structure of the organs, including the brain, heart, and spine. Many birth defects can be identified at this time. This ultrasound is usually performed by a board-certified Perinatologist.
Other ultrasounds may be done during the pregnancy, especially if there are complications like vaginal bleeding, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
Ultrasounds do not utilize any radiation. Instead, sound waves are used to determine the shape of the internal structures. They are completely safe for you and your baby.