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Ultrasound and your baby

What should I be looking for in my first ultrasound?

What should I be looking for in my first ultrasound?

I'm Dr. Peter Doubilet, Radiologist and author of Your Developing Baby. Doctors often schedule an ultrasound at around 17 weeks of pregnancy because that's when the baby is big enough to be seen in great detail. We start our examination by checking out the head and brain. Here, we're making sure that the head is normal in size and that the parts of the brain are developing normally. We then move down to the face, seen here in a 3-D view. Our goal is to rule out problems, such as a cleft lip. Our next stop is at the baby's chest where we can see the heart beating. We check carefully to make sure that all four chambers are present. Moving down into the baby's abdomen, we evaluate the size and shape of the stomach, kidneys and bladder. Next comes a careful look at the baby's spine where we check to make sure that there's no abnormal opening in the back of the spine called a spina bifida. Finally, we look at the arms and legs, making sure they're normal in length and shape. If the parents are interested in finding out the baby's sex, we can usually tell at this point. After looking over the baby in detail, we move on to examine the placenta and umbilical cord, which provide the baby with nourishment and oxygen from the mother. As you can see, ultrasound provides us with a wealth of information about your baby's growth and development. It's also an exciting opportunity for you to see your baby or babies. From Harvard, I wish you good health.

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