doppler ultrasound in pregnancy

When you are expecting, you need to go through several ultrasound tests. However, doppler ultrasound in pregnancy is slightly different from normal ones. The regular scans will only show the baby’s development during the gestational period. But, in the doppler ultrasound scan, the doctor can examine the baby’s heart, blood pressure, blood flow, and brain.

The scan examines the working of the umbilical cord, which is impossible in normal ones. It also helps to identify all pregnancy complications as it looks at the baby thoroughly and whether they received the right amount of nutrients.

Depending on the patient’s condition, different types of scans and ultrasounds are common. However, doppler ultrasound in pregnancy isn’t quite common. Doctor’s do it in only high-risk and complicated cases. But let’s determine the significance of a doppler ultrasound in pregnancy and what it does.

doppler ultrasound in pregnancy

Who needs a doppler ultrasound in pregnancy

The doppler ultrasound in pregnancy helps assess the baby’s blood flow throughout the body. It also shows whether the placenta can provide sufficient nutrients and oxygen to the baby. For a healthy baby, blood flow is very vital and helps in the development of the fetus.

By the end of this article, you will be able to know the types of doppler scans available, why they are prescribed, the results of a doppler scan, and everything about the test.

Below is the point which shows when a doppler ultrasound in pregnancy is done:

No of babies

The doppler ultrasound becomes mandatory in case of twins or more where the risk component is high.

Baby development

Where the baby’s growth isn’t normal, the doctor may ask you to get this ultrasound done to check for the causes of underdevelopment.

Tangled cord

When the umbilical cord gets tangled, it becomes necessary to check the risk component.

Rhesus antibodies

When the baby gets affected by rhesus antibodies, this ultrasound helps identify and cure the baby with the necessary medication.

Heart rate

The average heart rate of a fetus varies between 110 – 160 per minute. When the heart rate isn’t average, this ultrasound must be done.

doppler ultrasound in pregnancy

Records

Suppose there has been a record of any miscarriages or stillbirths. Eliminating every possible risk becomes very important in such cases. In that case, the doppler ultrasound in pregnancy will help remove any chance of a miscarriage.

Health record

During pregnancy, if the mother has diabetes or has high BP, the risk of pregnancy increases. Hence the doctor might ask the patient to get a doppler ultrasound done.

The health of the uterine

The baby’s growth depends on a healthy uterine for the baby to get its required oxygen and nutrients for development.

Alcohol and smoking

It is highly recommended that expecting mothers refrain from consuming alcohol and smoking since it may harm the health of the baby and mother.

Fibroids or cysts

A doppler ultrasound in pregnancy may also find cysts or fibroids that may cause complications later.

As discussed, doppler ultrasound in pregnancy is not very common; doctors usually don’t prescribe it until it’s a high-risk one.

Doppler ultrasound pregnancy average values

Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy is done to strike out all the complications one undergoes in pregnancy. The main reason for conducting this ultrasound is weak placenta cases where the placenta placement is impaired.

As per a study, from a total of 430 pregnancies, fifty-eight cases had issues of preterm birth, impaired placentation, and intrauterine underdevelopment.

Doppler indices measure the values examined in this ultrasound to analyze the fetus’s well-being.

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For the analysis, the resistive index (RI), pulsatility index (PI), umbilical artery (UA), and lastly, middle cerebral artery (MCA) of the fetus is required to calculate the cerebro-placental ratio (CP ratio). This is mainly done between 18–40 weeks.

Analysis of Doppler Scan

A Doppler ultrasound helps determine healthy blood circulation and the fetal’s brain, kidney, and placenta placement condition.

Below are a few areas while conducting a doppler scan:

Umbilical Artery

The baby gets all the specific nutrients from its mother’s placenta during the pregnancy. In an umbilical artery scan, the placenta is analyzed and examined to check if blood flow is expected in the umbilical cord. This is generally for pregnant mothers with more than one child or if the growth is abnormal.

Uterine Scan

The blood vessels in the uterus are uterine arteries. These arteries look into the uterus’s blood flow, which is very small in size. However, the size increases with pregnancy to allow a healthy blood flow. This scan shows if the womb is getting enough blood through the uterus.

Ductus venosus Scan

This scan is done only when there are complications in the other scans. The blood that reaches the baby’s heart via the umbilical path is examined. This is done to find out the blood flow in the heart of the baby.

MCA or Middle Cerebral Artery Scan

Once the umbilical artery scan is done, and if required, the doctor may ask the mother for the MCA test to be done. The MCA scan examines the blood flow in the brain.

doppler ultrasound in pregnancy

Results of doppler ultrasound

As your doctor prescribes for doppler ultrasound, you might be anxious about what it is about. Let’s see what you can expect here:

The first thing that a doppler scan helps you with is a heartbeat. You will be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and the doctor can examine how healthy it is.

Pregnant mothers are always asked to have a healthy lifestyle and proper diet. This is because the baby needs to get all the required nutrients from the mother.

The uterine walls can be examined to see whether adequate oxygen and nutrients are reaching the baby for development. Hence the analysis of blood flow is conducted for a healthy baby.

Now next is the essential part; the placenta. The primary function of the placenta is to transport all the required nutrients to the baby for its development. It also helps eliminate waste and protects the baby from dangerous infections.

The placenta is also responsible for secreting the hormones required in pregnancy. Hence the doppler scan helps in examining the placenta.

All-over development of the baby comes through via a doppler scan because it thoroughly examines the baby’s size and weight.

Mother’s health is the foremost priority for a healthy baby. Until the mother is healthy, the baby will not be able to develop to its full extent. For a healthy delivery, the doppler scan can eliminate complications of cysts or clots that can harm during labor.

Types of doppler scan in pregnancy

Depending on the need of the test, doctors determine the type of doppler scan. There are 3 in general:

Duplex doppler

This doppler scan generates the blood vessel’s image and the surrounding organs. It also measures the blood flow’s direction and speed.

Continuous wave doppler

This scan uses continuous ultrasound waves to determine the blood flow’s velocity. It is very common and compact. It only shows the blood flow’s speed but not the location or direction.

Colour Doppler

The color doppler is very much like a duplex doppler with a better image. The different color strategy reflects the blood flow direction and speed.

In this, the computer overlaps colorful visuals to depict the blood flow along with the images of its adjoining tissues.

Doppler device to use at home

Being at home and being able to use a doppler device is so fascinating for expecting mothers. Well, a doppler hand-held ultrasound device can help you listen to the baby’s heartbeat. However, this device will only work on ladies who are 13 weeks pregnant or more. From until 13 weeks, the pelvis will have the womb.

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However, there are arguments stating that an untrained person can’t determine the heartbeat as they may confuse with the placenta’s blood flow.

With the growing technology, nowadays everything seems to be possible. The device may mislead or give false assurance if not used properly. This can be disheartening and cause unnecessary stress.

Therefore, an electronic device for baby monitoring is more efficient to use by doctors. A cardiotocograph doppler monitors the normal heart rate of the baby normal and checks for irregularities, if any.

A baby’s heart rate always varies as it moves around. A CTG isn’t required for a healthy pregnancy; if the mother can feel the movement of the baby regularly, it is fine. Doctors need CTG mainly for continuous monitoring during labor.

It is important to monitor the mother’s contractions with the infant’s heartbeat during labor to get a positive result. If the CTG reflects that the heart rate is declining with an increase in contractions, the doctor has to give you drugs to reduce the contraction’s force. Lastly, if it still doesn’t normalize, you might have to go through an urgent cesarean delivery.

When a doctor prescribes you a doppler test, it is for the health of yourself and the baby. It will be able to detect the abnormalities, if any, and prepare you for a healthy pregnancy.

Doppler scan pregnancy risk

Like all the scans, this is also a normal scan with no risk. You can rest assured that this is for the best and your baby. The doppler scan, when done right, can eliminate all the risks involved. However, you should never do this test in early pregnancy.

You must be wondering if there are any preparations required before going for a doppler scan, but surprisingly there are none. The only thing that needs to take care of is to quit smoking as you get to know about your pregnancy.

Since nicotine constricts the blood vessels, which can give an incorrect diagnosis. Also, the mother should wear comfortable clothes when going for the test and drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated.

Things to do for a healthy delivery

Now that we know what a doppler scan does. However, it is also very important for you to take care of your health. To deliver a healthy baby and have a smooth pregnancy journey, below are a few things that can help you with the same:

  • Always go for your check-ups regularly
  • Try registering yourself for pregnancy sessions that provide positivity to deal with the stress and anxiety
  • Enjoy this time with your spouse or family and pamper yourself every possible way
  • Restrict yourself from cat litter, as it has some dangerous effects
  • Ensure you are taking your prenatal vitamins, which your doctor prescribes
  • Dental hygiene is also very important during your pregnancy; if required, try visiting a dentist
  • Try going for morning walks to rejuvenate yourself
  • Visit your doctor whenever you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts, and take action accordingly
  • Try avoiding any kind of traveling in the early and final stages of pregnancy
  • Do not take unnecessary advice which may confuse you about taking care of your baby and yourself
  • Do not take any kind of medication, even the herbal ones, without your doctors’ confirmation

Once the doctor confirms your pregnancy, the foremost thing that you need to do is follow the instructions provided. Do not worry about the scans or tests prescribed, as this is just to eliminate all the risks that may arise.

Final thoughts

With so much progress in technology, doctors can minimize several risks. With proper assistance and support, they can mitigate the risks involved. As the saying goes, ‘precaution is always better than cure; make sure you stay happy and healthy during the most important phase of your life.

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