A growth scan or a well-being scan is a routine ultrasound scan prescribed by the gynecologist to analyze the growth and development of the fetus in the womb. It is performed during the third trimester, after the 28th week of pregnancy.
What information does it provide?
A growth scan shows us how comfortable the baby is inside the womb. It usually checks for the following and provides the doctors with useful information regarding the ongoing pregnancy:
- Weight and position of the baby
- Baby breathing and stretching
- Movement of the baby
- The level of amniotic fluid in the womb
- Position and maturity of the placenta
- Check for the blood circulation
- The position of the umbilical cord
In case of multiple pregnancies, frequent growth scans will be needed to find out the complications of multiple pregnancies.
In cases of diabetic mothers, the baby might appear too big or have excess birth weight, in which case the doctor may suggest a C-section. After delivery, the baby may encounter respiratory problems, preterm birth, or low sugar at birth. Gestational diabetes must always be monitored and kept under control for a hassle-free pregnancy.
When is it prescribed?
Your doctor may prescribe a growth scan if you experience fewer fetal movements during the time of pregnancy. The position of the baby whether it is breech, cephalic, or transverse can be established through a growth scan. Usually, normal delivery is suggested when the head is in the down position. The placenta position can also determine the type of delivery; it should not be too low.
In some cases, women may experience high blood pressure during their pregnancy period, in which case, the doctor will want to monitor the health of the baby regularly. If you have had any complications in your previous pregnancy, then a growth scan will be mandatorily prescribed by the doctor to monitor any fetal abnormalities. A few fetal anomalies are evident only in the late stages of pregnancy, especially those of the brain and kidney.
What is the procedure?
A growth scan is performed in the same way as an abdominal ultrasound. The scan helps to monitor the growth and development of the baby and the overall progress of the pregnancy. It usually produces a 2D image in black and white as well as colour doppler images which are interpreted by the gynecologist. A colour doppler study of the fetus will indicate the comfort of the baby is inside the womb. The growth scan usually takes 15 to 20 minutes and it is perfectly safe as there are no specific risks attached to the baby or the mother during the process.
For your understanding here are some of the acronyms you need to familiarize yourself with:
- Biparietal diameter (BPD) measures the diameter of the baby’s head
- Head circumference (HC), which measures around the baby’s head
- Abdominal circumference (AC) is the measurement around the baby’s abdomen
- Femur length (FL) measures the length of the thigh bone (femur)
A growth scan can relieve you of all the unwanted tensions you encounter and prepare you for what is to come. It is often guidance for the doctors, as it enables them to take necessary actions for complications if any. If the baby is distressed, for example, the doctor can advise you to take the appropriate next step. You need not be alarmed during the pregnancy period, because a growth scan helps in the safe delivery of your baby.