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Ultrasound is a technique that uses high frequency sound waves sent through a transducer into a pregnant woman’s uterus via either the abdomen or the vagina to show a picture of the baby. An ultrasound provides information the doctor uses to make healthcare decisions. The picture of the baby obtained through this method is a sonogram. The process is also known as sonography. The process can take 10 to 30 minutes for a basic exam and longer for more involved examinations. Sonograms can be obtained at any time during pregnancy depending upon the reason for the testing.
 Does it hurt?
The ultrasound procedure is painless for the mother and baby. They are safe when administered by healthcare providers, and have no known risks.
 How is it performed?
A thin layer of gel is applied to the abdomen to enhance the process of obtaining a sonogram. A basic ultrasound exam in the first trimester will check the size and heart activity of the fetus, as well as the condition of the mother’s uterus. Ultrasounds performed in the second or third trimester would check these things as well as the condition of the amniotic fluid, and the baby’s anatomy.
 What are they used for?
Ultrasounds are used in prenatal care to diagnose conditions such as:
Ultrasounds are a helpful tool in diagnosing birth defects when used in conjunction with blood tests or other technologies. An ultrasound alone will only catch birth defects about half the time.