Posted on April 29th, 2017 by

Diagnostic Ultrasound In a Nutshell

Ever wonder about what us sonographers really do when we perform your sonogram? Or why your paperwork called your exam a “diagnostic ultrasound?”

What Does Diagnostic Mean?

Anything “diagnostic” describes a test performed to try to find a problem. So, diagnostic ultrasound is ordered to rule out problems in pregnancy for Mom and Baby. Most people are very familiar with ultrasound but most consider it a fun and exciting event allowing you to see your baby and determine gender. And, yep, it can be all those things. However, first and foremost, ultrasound is a very important diagnostic tool used by your doctor to find structural abnormalities, follow fetal growth, and determine multiples. And this only scratches the surface!

What Do We Look For?

In a nutshell, my job requires me to document what I see and to make a report about it. More intricately speaking, I have to document with images and measurements everything I can see relative to fetal and maternal anatomy. Of course, what I can see and need to document all depends on how far along you are–your gestational age. Once I write a detailed report, I can present a complete ultrasound picture of your case to your physician.

What Things Can I See on Mom?

A few organs and measurements we try to see on mom are as follows:

  • The uterus and some types of pathology (like fibroids which are muscular tumors and very common)
  • The ovaries (those become obscured later as the uterus gets larger)
  • The cervix, which holds in the pregnancy and is sometimes observed for length in the 2nd trimester

What Things Can I See on Baby?

What parts we can see on Baby varies greatly depending on your gestational age. But a few things we look for are:

  • Baby’s size, to determine age or follow growth
  • Internal organs, depending on age, include the brain, heart, stomach, bladder and kidneys
  • Upper and lower extremities (arms and legs), again, depending on age. We try to see fingers and toes on your anatomy screen, but they can be a challenge–especially if the fists are closed in a ball.
  • Baby’s spine
  • Baby’s umbilical cord
  • The placenta and where it’s located
  • And last but not least! Maybe, possibly, if all the stars align and Baby cooperates, you just might be able to find out fetal sex.

How Does It Work?

Ultrasound is just that…sound waves which operate at a frequency far beyond human hearing. Ultrasound is not radiation. Sound waves, much like a fish finder, are sent from crystals in the transducer (the probe placed in the vagina or rubbed on your belly) and transmitted with the help of the ultrasound gel. The waves penetrate the tissues directly below the probe until they reach Baby. They bounce back and create the image you see on the monitor. Factors like the size of the patient and fetal position can limit what parts we see and how well we can see them on the examination.

Additionally, many other diagnostic ultrasound examinations are performed on various other parts of the body, as well. Ultrasound is THE most technologist-dependent modality there is. This means the machine does nothing without someone operating it. This precisely explains why some mamas receive a “baby girl” guess only to discover a little wee wee later on in the pregnancy. If the operator, or person holding the probe, lacks experience scanning fetal sex–oops!–wrong guess. And we’ve ALL heard those stories, haven’t we?!

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Posted on January 16th, 2017 by

Your Week 10 Ultrasound ~
How Big is Your Baby Now?


10 week ultrasound, week 10 ultrasound, week 10 fetus, week by week pregnancy

10 Week Fetus

Congratulations! Your baby has a new name. After so much hard work as an embryo, Baby is now a fetus. Wow, already excelling in so many ways. So, without further ado, let me introduce your fetus and what you can expect to see during a Week 10 ultrasound examination.

If you recall, the start of Week 9 has Baby’s CRL measuring around one inch and 10w2d (above). He or she is about 3.4cm (2.5 cm = 1 inch). This means your little nugget is still not quite two inches from its large-appearing head to its teeny weeny bottom. Baby’s forehead still appears quite prominent and facial features are still quite limited. If we can obtain an absolutely perfect side view of Baby, you can appreciate a profile including the tiniest of noses and lips. Of course, arms and legs are longer and feet are barely appreciated.

Just a note of caution here! You will likely still have the dreaded vaginal ultrasound at this point. I know, I know. Stirrups are never fun. But the image obtained with this method still yields the best quality for Baby’s peanut size. This is part of our job–utilizing whatever method is going to produce the best image.

You are in for a show, Mom. Your baby can look like quite the jumping bean at this point. It’s entirely possible Baby might not move at all during your scan, but they do demonstrate periods of stillness combined with periods of crazy movement. Don’t be alarmed if your baby is very still and quiet during your scan, especially if your scan is super quick.

Only four more weeks until you reach the second trimester! Exciting stuff. 🙂 Wanna check out Week 11 right now? Click here.

Got more questions about fetal ultrasound? Great! Email me at

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Posted on June 6th, 2015 by

Female Gender Pics

Patients, in general, tend to believe that determining male gender should be very easy any time, and the only way to determine female gender is the lack of male parts. Wrong! But can we see the uterus and ovaries of a female fetus? Read an email below from a mom with this very question.

mama-to-be:  Is it possible to see Baby’s ovaries and uterus with ultrasound? I’ve read these organs are formed around 20/22 Weeks. I was thinking it was possible to see them at 22 Weeks or later?

wwavb:  A fetus is fully formed at 12 Weeks. And, no, a uterus and ovaries cannot be seen in a fetus anytime in pregnancy as they are simply too small and gender can only be determined by examining external genitalia.


Second Trimester

See below for great, textbook female gender images!

female gender, 16 Weeks pregnant

This image is of a baby girl at about 16 Weeks. Here, you can only really see Baby’s bottom but not her legs…imagine Baby is pulling her feet up to her nose. Looking up from the underside, only cheeks and girly parts will be seen, right?

Note the three arrows which point to three white lines representing the labia on the outside and clitoris in the center. Sometimes the lines look more like white dots depending on the angle. As Baby gets a little bigger, she will start to develop some fat in her skin and the labia will plump up a bit, resembling the “hamburger” to which most patients refer!

female gender, 16 Weeks pregnant

This image is around the 16 Weeks, also. You can see here how the top labia looks more like a dot and the middle and bottom white echoes look more like lines.

Third Trimester

female gender, 32 Weeks pregnant, third trimester gender

Finally, we’ll end out this post with a perfect example of 3rd Trimester female gender! This baby is about 32 Weeks, and we found her sitting in the best position to obtain this shot. Notice how the white lines have morphed into the labia you would expect to see on Baby Girl. Most patients can typically “see” her parts for themselves pretty easily at this stage.


Have some female gender images you want to share?
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Posted on January 2nd, 2015 by

How Ultrasound Works

Let’s explain ultrasound, how ultrasound works, and why we call this technology ultrasound!

What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is just that…ULTRAsound, or sound waves that operate at a frequency far beyond human hearing.

*Human hearing ranges from about 20Hz (Hertz) to 20,000Hz (or 20kHz)*
*Ultrasound operates in the megahertz (MHz) or millions of Hertz!*

Fetal ultrasound probes operate at a frequency range of about 2-13MHz. Also, the use of Doppler technology is another form of ultrasound. Your healthcare provider may use a hand-held Doppler transducer to detect your baby’s heartbeat starting at about 10 Weeks. The frequency of these dopplers range from 2-5MHz. These dopplers require special training. Only those educated on how to distinguish maternal blood flow from fetal heart tones should use them.

Additionally, Doppler technology can also play a role in conjunction with an ultrasound machine, but only formally-educated sonographers should utilize it. This feature emits a higher energy, therefore, power settings should be set very low. An example of this type of Doppler is when your sonographer is scanning your baby and uses doppler to hear the heartbeat while it’s also shown on a graph below the image. We like to use this very sparingly early in the first trimester!

Most importantly, Ultrasound is not radiation!

X-Ray is ionizing radiation; ultrasound is like sonar or a fish-finder!

How Ultrasound Works

Sound waves penetrate skin and the tissues below it with the help of gel which aids in conducting the waves. Remember the goopy stuff we squirt on your belly? Once the sound waves hit the target of interest, they bounce back and result as an image on the monitor. It’s up to the operator to efficiently and properly adjust many settings to optimize for the best image. Credentialed sonographers know how to do this best! After all, Knobs and Buttons 101 is a large part of our training and education:)

The image produced is a 2D image (the gray-scale image) which allows us to see in two planes only at one time. An example of a 2D image is seen below. Baby is shown upside down here!

9 Weeks pregnant, ultrasound, 9 Week Embryo

9 Week Embryo in 2D

Because a 3D image is made when the sonographer makes a sweeping motion with the probe, several 2D images are saved all at once. We then have a “box” of information to work with that allows us to see the outside of Baby instead of “through” Baby. Below is a 3D image at 9 Weeks:

how ultrasound works

9 Week Embryo in 3D

Hopefully, this post helps you understand ultrasound a little better when you go for your next scan. I wish you all uneventful pregnancies and happy, healthy babies!

I hope you keep coming back to have all your ultrasound questions answered, so email me at!

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Posted on July 30th, 2014 by

Male Gender on Ultrasound

What should you expect to see?

You’ll need to look no further than the photos I have for you below — two great images of male gender! This baby was about 19 Weeks and (no pun intended), boy, was he proud! See below:

male gender, 19 Weeks pregnant


The image above represents a bottom view if you imagine Baby sitting on a glass table as you look up from underneath. I have all the parts labeled for you. The arrows, of course, point to the wee-wee (my technical term). This pic is about as straightforward a potty shot as you will find.  No guesswork, all boy!

male gender, 19 Weeks pregnant


Now this is a side view of Baby. You can’t see his head in this picture which would be off to the left-hand side. Again, I’ve  labeled all the parts so you, hopefully, understand what you are seeing. This time it’s the legs which do not make an appearance here. Not to be graphic but for demonstrative purposes, imagine slicing the body in half lengthwise; this is the view we have right down the middle of the torso.

male gender, 19 Weeks pregnant


The penis and scrotal sac from the side resemble a turtle sticking out of his shell.  If you can appreciate the tiny dotted line, you will see it is drawn around the “turtle.”

You can see how parts look different from different angles.  These depict super great images of baby boy stuff…no question, no nonsense, no guessing. Just all boy! Now this is  what I like to see when making a guess!

Compare to the pics in the links below for other great fetal sex images!

Best wishes for a healthy baby on your next scan!

Also, you can email me at!


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Posted on June 28th, 2014 by

As a kid, I used to go swimming at a friend’s house and I’ll never forget the sign posted on their cabana.


This is our swimming ool.

Notice there’s no p in it.

Let’s keep it that way.


I always thought it was so funny and clever! And her mother meant it, with all her Italian beauty and ferocity, threatening us that we better not do it! I have to laugh at that memory.

That brings me to a pool that most definitely contains some “p” and lots of it. I’m, of course, referring to the amnion.

For people who don’t already know this, you may be grossed out. However, this function proved necessary in order for us all to get here! Since we’ve all had to drink a little pee in the past, let’s talk some physiology. The amnion is predominantly made up of fetal urine, and it is one of the things we evaluate on ultrasound. Baby starts to swallow amniotic fluid later in the first trimester. During the anatomy screen, we look for fluid in the fetal bladder and stomach so that we know baby is swallowing and the kidneys are functioning properly. We also evaluate the amniotic fluid level.

Anything fluid on ultrasound appears black, so the stomach, bladder, and amniotic fluid are black.  Patients will typically ask, “What is that hole?,” when really it is a fully-distended stomach or urinary bladder they are seeing. Below you’ll see an image of a full fetal bladder.



So, there ya go, Mrs. Pat. Pee in the pool is a good thing;)



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Posted on June 28th, 2014 by

One of my favorite sayings of all time, from some of my favorite patients of all time! The phrase was new to me until this week when two different patients used it in the same week. The first was from a new patient and the second from one of my favorite couples ever. The phrase? Soup coolers! And soup coolers refers to…wait for it…Baby’s lips! Let me clarify. I’m talkin’ about big beautiful perfect lips, ripe for lots of sugar after Baby’s grand entrance. Or exit. However you’d like to look at it!

With a really great profile, we can obtain great images of the soft tissue of your baby’s face like the tip of the nose and lips. And that’s just what we got on my patient’s scan today. I called them luscious! Daddy called them soup coolers. Hilarious!

Most of you know that ultrasound images can be quite magnified, so sometimes parts can appear a little generous in size. I think there’s no doubt that this baby has some of the most precious soup coolers around! And Mom was happy to share them:)

This precious little pumpkin below is about 33 Weeks. The first two are 2D images, and the other three are 3D. Love ’em! Loved this couple, and miss them so much! They simply made my day each and every visit. And if they ever see this post, they’ll know exactly who they are:)






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Posted on May 21st, 2014 by

What’s in a Fetal Umbilical Cord?

The fetal umbilical cord is made up of two arteries and one vein. This is one of the important bits of information we obtain during your anatomy screen or the scan most get at 18 – 20 Weeks. A great image of the cord is seen below. Many patients will ask if those are bubbles floating in the amniotic fluid. Nope! No air in there, remember?!

fetal umbilical cord


Notice the fetal umbilical cord circled in yellow below (along with boy stuff!):

fetal umbilical cord


You may sometimes see your sonographer add “color” to Baby’s cord (except that this one is black & white):fetal umbilical cord

Typically, we apply blue to the vein and red to the arteries. This color flow capability just allows us to see the vessels better and to evaluate the flow within them. This is mostly performed in the 3rd Trimester.

SUA or Single Umbilical Artery

Sometimes, only one artery develops; babies can grow just fine in those cases. Usually, if your baby has a two-vessel cord or SUA, single umbilical artery (as they are commonly referred to), your doctor may request serial ultrasounds to follow Baby’s growth over the course of your pregnancy. Often, your doc may request you schedule serial BPPs from 32 Weeks until delivery.


We can never see all the cord from placental to fetal insertion later in the pregnancy. Baby gets to be too big, and we see only segments of the cord here and there. One question I’m routinely asked of patients is if the cord can be seen around the baby’s neck. Called a nuchal cord, sometimes we do see this, but it just isn’t something your doctors necessarily need to know. For more on the nuchal cord, click the link above.

Did this post strike the right chord with you?
(Okay, I’m really sorry — there’s just no excuse for a bad joke.)

Here’s to your healthy babies, Ladies!

Email if you have any other questions!


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Posted on May 17th, 2014 by

Ultrasound – One Mom’s Opinion

I love receiving uplifting emails from readers! Your positive feedback inspires me to continue blogging and to look for more ways to inform you about your fetus and you! Accurate ultrasound information and the safety facts that you need to know for the health of mom and baby make up my highest priority for my blog!

facial profile, 18 Weeks pregnant, ultrasound

Additionally, your questions offer great content to share with other readers. I encourage all my readers (subscribers or not) to share your ultrasound stories, comments, images, photos of your fetus, and ultrasound questions at Furthermore, your experience may even help another mom-to-be with her search. I hope you’ll read, enjoy, and subscribe to my blog to find answers for all your ultrasound questions!

An Ultrasound Opinion from One Fellow Healthcare Worker to Another

nurse and mom-to-be:  Hello!! I must say I love your blog and wit!! Patients are so lucky to have such a skilled sonographer like you. I must say I’ve experienced both. My last one we met  (18 Week ultrasound) was great, 20+ years experience and worked with higher-acuity patients, too. She respected our wishes and wrote down the sex with a picture for us to open later. She asked us to leave the room so she could analyze the image. We also asked her track record and she says she does not reveal if not sure. She labeled every body part for us and thoroughly educated us, as I’m sure you do, too!! I’ve been a nurse for 10 years so I can only imagine the questions you get!  Love the idea of your site – you really utilize your talent and help us crazy pregnant ladies!!

Best wishes and I’m now a subscriber (and huge fan), yay!

wwavb:  Hi! Thank you so much for reading and your kind words! AWESOME!! I’ve worked two years on content, and I would love to make my site into a book one day!!  I think it would be an entertaining read for anyone and a great shower gift for new moms:) Your great feedback was a great Mother’s Day gift, by the way!

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Posted on January 16th, 2014 by

A Great 3rd Trimester Female Gender Pic!

Okay, readers, if you are searching for the perfect shot of 3rd Trimester female gender, check out this photo below. This image is shouting, “Am I a girl or what?” Poor thing. We don’t even give her half a chance for modesty!

3rd Trimester female gender


This is a great image of labia as seen later in pregnancy. Baby has more fat in her skin now and looks nothing like the “3 dots or lines” you saw at halftime. Now, granted, not every baby girl looks exactly like this one. We are not all built EXACTLY the same, right? Some babies have smaller labia than others. Still others have a larger clitoris.

However, I think no one can argue that the pic above looks nothing like any little boy I’ve ever seen. This mom and dad were so excited for their second precious baby girl. Lucky for you, they were also so happy to share! 🙂 Now, THIS, expectant parents, is a GREAT shot if I do have to say so myself!

❤️I just LOVE a great ultrasound image!❤️

Wow, I’m such a geek sometimes.

If you have great shots of your baby girl, feel free to email me!



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