A Positive Test – What’s the next step?
The Whatcom County Pregnancy Clinic offers limited diagnostic obstetrical ultrasounds to their patients who have received a positive pregnancy test and are not already receiving prenatal care. Using state-of-the-art equipment, the Clinic’s ultrasound provides early information about the pregnancy free of charge.
Why should she have an ultrasound? An ultrasound is used to confirm a positive pregnancy test and viability. Studies show that anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of recognized pregnancies and up to 50% of all pregnancies1 end in miscarriage; an ultrasound can determine if the pregnancy is viable (meaning it is capable of developing under normal conditions). The large majority of miscarriages happen during the first trimester. The ultrasound will provide critical information such as:
WCPC does not perform ultrasound exams on patients who are experiencing active bleeding or pain greater than menstrual cramps. A patient experiencing either of these symptoms will be referred to the Emergency Room at St. Joseph Hospital.
What is an obstetrical ultrasound? An obstetrical ultrasound is a simple and painless way to look inside the abdomen. A transducer is moved across the patient’s abdomen, sending high-frequency sound waves through it. Echoes from those sound waves are transformed into a photographic image of the baby and surrounding area including the placenta, ovaries, uterus, and amniotic sac.
Trans-vaginal ultrasounds are offered at the Clinic when the trans-abdominal image is not clear enough to get accurate information and only if the client is comfortable with this procedure. In this case, an ultrasound probe is inserted vaginally. This method produces a clearer, more detailed image, and is helpful in determining the age of the fetus up to 12 weeks, but can be especially helpful in a pregnancy of 8 weeks or less.
Is ultrasound safe? Ultrasound technology has been used for over 40 years and has become a standard procedure during pregnancy. Studies have shown there are no harmful side effects.
Does she have to do anything to prepare for an ultrasound? Ultrasounds are readily available to WCPC patients with a positive pregnancy test result.
Who will be doing the ultrasound? The Clinic’s Nurse Manager or a member of her Registered Nurse staff. They have received extensive training in limited obstetrical ultrasound to determine a viable pregnancy and to take measurements in order to establish the approximate gestational age of the fetus.
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1 Research estimates that up to 50% of pregnancies may end in miscarriage because many women experience very early miscarriages before even knowing they are pregnant.