Posted on July 18th, 2017 by

Is ultrasound radiation?! After 25 years in the biz, it would be news to me – and to every other physician, engineer, and manufacturing company in relation to the technology. Not to mention those who have conducted biohazard testing in the field since the early 1900s…

What Exactly is Ultrasound? (Since It Isn’t Radiation)

Ultrasound is just that. Ultra Sound, or sound waves that work at a frequency far beyond human hearing. Like a fish-finder one might use on a boat. Or sonar used by the military. Human hearing ranges from about 20Hz (Hertz) to 20,000Hz (or 20kHz). When it comes to creating an ultrasound image, we work in the MHz range or millions of Hertz. An OB probe ranges from about 2MHz – 13MHz.

Ultrasound is a department of Radiology within a hospital, but it does not emit radiation.

So, Who Thinks Ultrasound is Radiation?!

Apparently, someone who hasn’t done her homework. I was floored recently while doing research for my book when I came across an author of a very popular pregnancy book (who will remain nameless…for now) who actually wrote that ultrasound is radiation.

She also claims that the Doppler used by physicians to obtain heart tones emits more radiation than scanning equipment! Wrong again, Doppler is ultrasound.

How does this happen? After all, she supposedly had the help of “knowledgeable” medical resources to write the book. Are they the only healthcare providers on the planet who don’t know Ultrasound is not X-Ray? And if not, why not?

I have no idea if this author has recanted this falsehood. I tried to Google it with no confirmation. If she did, I give her credit. If not, she owes an explanation and apology to her faithful readers and social media followers. She is incorrectly influencing millions of parents-to-be with this misinformation, and it’s not okay. She is adding needless fuel to the fire, and moms worry about enough as it is.

Additionally, she then goes on to advise moms to only have an ultrasound if they really want one, but to not have more than they need. To me, this begs the question…is it radiation or is it okay?

I would like to think she did not intentionally mislead her readership. But as a published author, ignorance is no excuse.

What is Radiation?

It is a transfer of energy that also travels in waves. For example, radiation is found in light from the sun, microwaves, and X-Rays. But not sound waves. And, yes, exposure to radiation can cause cancer. One example is skin cancer from too much sun exposure.

Consider this. When you go to the dentist, what is the first thing asked of any woman? “Is it possible you might be pregnant?” If the answer is “Yes” or “I’m not sure,” they shield your belly to protect Baby from the minuscule dose of radiation from a one-second X-Ray of your teeth.

If an obstetrician’s job is to manage the health and care of Mother and Baby, and it is, why then would docs expose their patients directly to radiation? And what about sonographers? We all would be directly exposed numerous times a day, every week for the duration of our careers. None of us, patients nor sonographers times decades, have died from cancer due to ultrasound exposure.

Is Ultrasound Safe?

Biohazard testing over decades has shown cavitation, the development of bubbles, over many consecutive hours of scanning in one area. So far, there have been no known effects for the very short-term use as needed by your doctor for your diagnostic scans. Therefore, it’s been the feeling of the medical community that the benefits far outweigh any risk, and they justify the use of ultrasound only for diagnostic purposes. So, no, they are not an advocate of the private entertainment ultrasound scan in the strip mall near you. And neither am I, but this is another post altogether. It’s also the responsibility of the sonographer to use as low a power setting as needed to obtain an adequate image.


One of the reasons I started this blog five years ago is because patients were misinformed – by Dr. Google, family, or friends. I expect as much from a random non-medical blogger, and I was even more enraged to find misinformation being doled out on popular pregnancy sites. But this took the cake.

It’s one thing to express one’s opinion. But when you’re making tons of money by persuading expectant moms to adopt your line of thinking, you have the responsibility to get your info right. No one says anyone has to be a fan of ultrasound. And as a mom, you have the right to decline. Before you do so, speak with your provider. You need only to understand your choice. Any mom who ever delivered a baby with serious problems was happy to know about it in advance for planning and educational, emotional, and delivery purposes. This, in fact, is the purpose of obstetric ultrasound.

And if you’re all about moms and choices, and those choices are power? The power only comes from a parent who makes an informed choice, not one based on misinformation. It is my wish and goal to simply and accurately explain ultrasound for moms-to-be and stamp out the misconceptions. Understanding is also power:)

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and informed pregnancy!

wwavblogger, RDMS

wwavblogger, RDMS


As always, thanks for reading! Please feel free to email your comments or questions to me at And please subscribe to the right>>>to receive automatic posts (of course, you can always opt out!)

PS Readers! Finally! In preparation of publishing my book, I will very soon be introducing myself! Real name, real face. I’ll be happy to meet you all! Stay tuned!

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Posted on July 6th, 2017 by
I’ve received questions lately regarding where to find fetal sex or gender in an ultrasound report. Can you always find this information in a report?
The short answer? No, not always.
Actually, we mostly do not record fetal sex, and it’s mostly not important to your doc. Typically, fetal sex is not pertinent information to the examination. Though parents may desire it, physicians don’t need this determination to manage your care and that of your baby if both are healthy. The above is true for most general OB practitioners in the US. However, every physician practices a little differently, and one can certainly dictate if he or she wants this info on all patient reports (if possible to determine). The case may be different if you are seeing a high-risk OB doc, aka a perinatologist. Their reports consist of much greater detail and may possibly include a fetal sex/gender guess.

Example of a Blank Report

In the images of a sample report taken from a monitor, you’ll notice there is a whole host of blanks to fill, but fetal sex is not one of them. On the first page where you see Sex: Other, this refers to the patient. Patient demographics were not entered here, so the Sex option defaulted to Other. We always include your LMP or EDC/EDD – aka baby due date. The larger blue space would be filled with fetal measurements, estimates of gestational age, and fetal weight as they are obtained.

OB ultrasound report

OB ultrasound report
In the pages above, you’ll note the list of fetal organs and structures we attempt to document on a mid-pregnancy anatomy screen. We only fill out the section called BPP in the 3rd Trimester when your doc orders this particular examination. And the CVP is usually only filled out when performing a Fetal Echo or detailed heart examination.

Exception to the Rule

There always seems to be at least one exception to every rule. Because the responsibility of a sonographer is to search out structural malformations, we also have to report suspicions of abnormal external genitalia. In other circumstances, we may see particular abnormalities that we might group together, as in the case of certain syndromes. Sometimes, knowing fetal sex helps physicians either support or rule out a particular chromosomal or structural problem. Some of these are gender specific. In the pic below, we have a designated space on a Comments page to expound on our findings. We can add fetal sex here if we feel it is pertinent information to the findings.
OB ultrasound report
In some countries, fetal sex is neither reported nor discussed with parents due to the cultural preference of one sex over another. And some facilities are beginning to incorporate policies against providing parents with this news due to litigious reasons. Unfortunately, such is life in the good ol’ US. Facilities want to limit their liability for guessing incorrectly by simply not allowing their sonographers to guess at all.
So, if you don’t want to know your baby’s sex (or even if you do!), don’t expect your ultrasound report to disclose that information. Your sonographer creates the images and report. We only include what is needed and leave out what is not!
Best wishes for happy and healthy!
wwavblogger, RDMS
PS ~
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As a thanks, you’ll receive a little something special when I publish my first book on 1st Trimester ultrasound! 🙂
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Posted on July 5th, 2017 by

Determining fetal sex by ultrasound is not as easy a task as most think. Actually, gender misconceptions pertaining to ultrasound are so common that I thought it worthy of yet another post.

Making a boy vs girl determination requires far more expertise than just sticking probe to belly. And babies do not just automatically cooperate! Baby’s legs need to be wide open and other parts cannot be covering over external genitalia. If so, the chances of holding that “reveal” party are slim to none.

Another common misconception is that we can force Baby to move. I promise you that if there was one magical button to push, there’s not one sonographer on earth who would hesitate for a second. Why struggle to give you the information you want if we could simply and magically flip Baby? Ugh, a girl a dream, but I think this technology lies in our distant future. Unfortunately, babies get comfy and only move into another position if they get the urge…and not a moment sooner.

Determining sex accurately is all about angles. Being far enough along with Baby in the right position is only part of the task..when I’m the one scanning, that is! Most of my emails come from people who want a second opinion. However, most of the time, it’s one I cannot give! Either Baby is too early or the image is just plain, well..terrible. In these scenarios, the truth is I just can’t comment on what I can’t see.

Most sonographers don’t mind telling you your baby’s sex, by the way! The problem for us comes when we can’t see what our patients want to know.  Even if we explain all the reasons, patients sometimes become upset or angry. I have scanned tens of thousands of babies. Anyone who has scanned as much can recognize when this information is obtainable and when it isn’t.

Tips For Your Next Ultrasound

So, here are a few recommendations for you to follow before your next ultrasound. No guarantees! But if you are busting at the seams to find out what you’re having, these tips just might work!

•Try eating or drinking something about 30 minutes prior to the exam. Baby typically becomes more active after eating. Now, I’m not condoning a double espresso and Snickers combo (yummy, yes; smart, no). We don’t want your fetus launching into orbit. Instead, try enjoying a hearty and healthy lunch or breakfast prior to your scan.

•Keep an open mind! Understand that not seeing the sex is definitely a real possibility!

•Don’t shoot the messenger! In other words, your sonographer would never intentionally withhold this info! …Unless, of course, it’s a policy of the facility to not guess sex.

Believe me! We would love to help you plan your party, shop for baby clothes, or decorate a nursery. It’s the most fun when we can! And when we cannot, it’s a real bummer..for you, because you leave disappointed and for us, because we’re (sometimes) blamed as the party poopers.

Great Pics of Fetal Sex

I’ve posted these before, but below are a couple of really great images of external genitalia, first boy then girl.

male fetal sex, around 27 Weeks

Male Gender

female fetal sex, mid-second trimester

Female Gender

Also, if you send an email asking for a second opinion earlier than 18 Weeks, you may receive the links below to other posts containing very easy, no-mistake pics of boys and girls!

Good luck on your next scan!

As always, thanks for reading and please subscribe for automatic posts in the right margin! >> You’ll receive a little something special (and free!) when my book on first-trimester ultrasound is published!

Here’s to happy and healthy!

wwavblogger, RDMS

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Posted on July 1st, 2017 by

We’ve all heard them. As a result, maybe you’ve googled your fingers to the bone researching them. What pregnancy wives’ tales do you have to share? I’ve heard them all and can say that NO one tale is consistently true! However, you can’t make your grandmother believe it.

So, let’s address a few of the old wives’ tales patients asked me about the most!

The ring or needle test can determine gender and/or the number of kids you will have.

FALSE, but it is still fun to play. If you’re not familiar, you string a thread through the eye of a needle or your wedding ring and hang it over your belly, holding it by the string end. If the ring or needle moves back and forth in a line, you are carrying a boy. A circular motion means your baby is a girl. The number of different patterns of movement is supposed to define the number of kids you’ll have. Mine was wrong and right. It determined I would have two kids, the first a boy and second a girl. I had two girls:)

So, I wonder. How is a destiny of seven daughters determined? Does the needle just makes an infinite circle pattern for seven minutes? Hmm…

The Drano test can determine sex.

FALSE! I have no idea where this originated, and I can’t even recall what means boy or girl. It just seems the Drano was supposed to change color for one sex and stay the same for the other. What I do know is this. Don’t do it! This drain unclogger should not come in contact with your skin and can also cause some caustic fumes which could be harmful to you and your baby.

Experiencing heartburn determines whether your baby will have hair.

FALSE! Lots of patients with heartburn have bald babies and vice versa. Women often times begin to feel the effects of some serious heartburn later in the 3rd trimester. This is typically because your uterus is growing up as well as out! This puts pressure on your poor stomach, so it has much less space than normal. You feel full sooner when eating, and that pressure causes our much-dreaded indigestion. I remember all too well that Tums turned into a staple of my daily diet with both my girls.

With ultrasound, hair can be easily seen at the nape of your baby’s neck as long as there is a good pocket of fluid there. If so, it’s pretty funny to watch it float when pushing on Mom’s belly, especially if it is long and thick! Ask your sonographer if your baby’s head is in a good position to see if your baby will have a wig full of hair at birth!

How you “carry” tells whether you will have a boy or girl.

TRIPLE FALSE! Most noteworthy, I’ve encountered this one most often. I don’t know whoever decided to link these two things together, but they could not be more unrelated. How you carry has more to do with your stature, torso length, belly size, and whether you’ve done this before. The more pregnancies you carry, the weaker the muscle tone becomes. Of course, everyone is different, but Baby may feel a little lower with each pregnancy. And last time I checked, the lucky little swimmer who made it to your egg first still has final say!

You can determine Baby’s sex by which side your placenta is implanted, left vs right.

Hmm, this is something I started getting questions about in within the past couple of years. I am unaware of what scientific evidence backs this theory, if any. But I suppose it’s a lot like the Nub Theory…more on that next. The placenta can implant anywhere in the uterus. The most common position is posterior, or along the back side of the uterus. But what about the placenta on the front side of the uterus (anterior)? Or along the top (fundal)? What about the complete previa (covering the cervix and bottom of the uterus)? And there are all sorts of variations of placental location in between, meaning they can be a combo of two or more locations. My advice is not to rely on this one!

The Nub Theory

12 Weeks, Nub Theory, Wives' Tales

12 Week Female Fetus

While this one is not so much a wives’ tale, it has been getting lots of hype lately, so I’ll address it. Basically, at about 12 Weeks, external genitalia either sticks up, if a boy, or out, if a girl. The angles and skill of the sonographer as well as Baby’s position all factor into this appearance and guess. Read more about the Nub Theory here…
At the end of the day, this theory is only about 73% accurate. Personally, I wouldn’t paint a nursery based on 70ish percent…but that’s just me.

A Local Favorite

My mother always swore by this one, and her deep Sicilian roots tell her it’s true. Her little old Sicilian friend down the street, Mrs. Camilla, predicted every one of her children’s and grandchildren’s sexes…by the moon. She didn’t know a thing about her methods,  just that she got it right every time. There’s simply no arguing with a sixth sense, right? Or a Sicilian mother. Take my word for it. Don’t waste your breath. Don’t even try.;)

Right, wrong, or indifferent…share your own experiences with pregnancy wives’ tales and funny stories here! I’d love to read about them and, so would other moms. Just email me at!


You can subscribe for future automatic posts in the right margin >>> (and you can always opt out!) AND you’ll get a little somethin’ special when I publish my first book on first-trimester ultrasound! COMING SOON!
Best wishes for happy and healthy!

wwavblogger, RDMS

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Posted on June 28th, 2017 by

fetal feet on ultrasound

Okay, so what do all you moms-to-be out there do before Baby gets here? Show off your great ultrasound photos, right?!

Well, I’d love to see them, too. Email me those shots near and dear to your heart to, and show off your little punkin’ to the world at the same time. Baby’s face, profile, 2D, 3D, hands, feet, or even your 4D video clips would all be perfect to post. And if you also have great shots of male or female fetal sex, send those, too!

I’ve personally taken some really great pics over the yawning, sticking out the tongue, puckering those lips..even flipping the bird! Who doesn’t love a cute set of baby toes? How about a ton of hair? If you got it, flaunt it! We moms like to brag on our cute kids, so it may as well start before they even get here.

Full disclosure! Uploading your images means you consent to my using them for promotion of my blog or future books. But, as always, I will always keep your privacy private!

Can’t wait to see them!

While you’re at it, please subscribe in the right margin to receive automatic posts (of course, you can always opt out). You can also follow me on Twitter @wwavbloggerRDMS. What’s more, my subscribers will receive a little free something when I publish as a way of saying THANKS for reading!

Say Cheese!

wwavblogger, RDMS

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Posted on June 23rd, 2017 by

Ultrasound gender determination can be tricky!

female fetus

male fetus

How many times have all you moms out there, young and old, heard the story that goes, “They told her it was a ‘this,’ and they decorated an entire nursery, and it came out a ‘that’! Those ultrasounds are wrong sometimes, ya know!”

A dollar for every one of THOSE comments would buy me my dream cottage on the Amalfi coast! However, I understand why this happens, and sonographers everywhere need to apply more discretion. First of all, you may already know that it’s not the machine that’s wrong. The sonographer or observer scanning you evaluates what she sees and determines Baby’s sex. And inexperience and/or caving to the pressure from persistent parents will often cause a sonographer to guess…and, unfortunately, sometimes guess incorrectly.

First rule of thumb for any newbie sonographer out there…I DON’T GUESS! I don’t put a percentage on my guess, and I don’t say “I think.” I also don’t say “It kinda looks like ‘this,’ but let’s wait until next time.” Parents may want you to guess, but they also want you to be RIGHT! And this last statement is what I typically will share with parents when they become red-faced by my unwillingness to toss out a quasi-guess based on a quasi-image. And, believe me, I’ve had more than my fair share of patients angry with me for something I have no control to change. We can’t just flip Baby in there at will.

The problem with saying “I think..” is that psychologically and emotionally most parents start to really become attached to this guess. They have already envisioned the first dance recital or baseball game by the time the next ultrasound exam rolls around. It’s so true. Mostly, someone else guessed incorrectly (usually, too early!), and I had to be the bearer of bad news. I decided to adopt a personal policy to ONLY offer a guess when I didn’t have to guess! In other words, Baby had to be in a perfect position with an easily seen penis and scrotum or labia/clitoris.

True story. One grandmother, so excited by the doctor’s early guess, flew right out and bought thirty-two dresses! Yep, 32. She did so despite the doc’s warning about his level of confidence and told her to wait for the sonogram with me. Fortunately, he got lucky with his baby girl guess, and grandma was a very happy woman (and a little less rich)! However, you can imagine the disappointment in returning all those frilly frocks if doc was wrong. I always hated giving such news!

Please, patients! Please remember your sonographer doesn’t withhold information about fetal sex just because. We’d actually really rather all our babies cooperate after five seconds of examination and that our patients didn’t leave the room cursing our existence. A button to make Baby flip on command? Now that’s a magic trick I’d like to patent:)

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Posted on June 15th, 2017 by

That is the question. To video or not to video your diagnostic fetal ultrasound may not be a decision left up to you. If your fetus doesn’t have one of these in there…

Video policies during your sonogram

…you may not be able to, either.

You might not like it very much, but your doctor’s office or other medical facility performing your diagnostic scan may have policies against it. And, boy, have I had my share of disgruntled patients because of it.

Why? Plain and simple.

In the modern-day world of social media, doctors and administration alike don’t want any part of an unread examination floating about the web. Exams aren’t read by a physician until the scanning portion is complete. Unfortunately, in the litigious U.S., they must take certain precautions to protect their examinations. And, yes. It is your baby, but the exam itself legally belongs to them.

Regardless of the medical implications, these policies just drive the pregnant population to private scans. If you’re an avid reader of mine, you know I’m not a fan. I think it’s always better to have any ultrasounds with your doc’s office (or other facility recommended by her/him).

Another option to consider is to simply ask your physician if he/she will allow you to record the heartbeat while listening with the doppler. Maybe your doc will be the one performing a scan; it doesn’t hurt to just ask. Usually, they don’t mind, and they make the rules for their practice. We sonographers just have to enforce them!

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Posted on June 7th, 2017 by

As a sonographer of many years, I know that ultrasound is subjective, but expectant moms seem to continue to be surprised by very early incorrect guesses. And I seem to be receiving more and more emails about this ever-growing problem. Nothing makes me angrier than when another sonographer tries too early to hand out a sex guess! I get angrier still when some businesses make this promise as a marketing ploy.

It just isn’t fair to the patient or customer. I feel these facilities take advantage of pregnant anxious moms who have a desire to know the sex of their baby as soon as possible. After all, it is one of the most anticipated events in pregnancy! However, these mothers-to-be wouldn’t spend their money on an ultrasound if 3D non-medical businesses didn’t exploit that desire. They advertise a promise or guarantee for sex determination at 12+ Weeks! So, what is the public to believe except that they can deliver on that promise? The truth is they know it’s only a guess. If they guess right, they got lucky. If they guess wrong..oh, well. Here’s some of your money back.

I think developments in the technology have yielded a little too much ambitious guessing in the fetal sex department. Resolution has improved so greatly over the years that we see better than ever with the most modern equipment. But just because we can see “a little something” sticking out, in no way or shape or form, means you’ll be investing in blue paint.

I want to educate every fertile, human-growing woman or parent-to-be out there that even the best ultrasound equipment on the planet cannot differentiate a boy from a girl. To this day, determination of sex is still dependent on the experience and skill of the person holding that probe to your belly. But also know that a sonographer’s skill doesn’t mean squat when external genitalia has just begun to grow. It’s anyone’s guess!

We have all heard a similar story. A customer pays for an early scan and is told one sex. “Congratulations! I’m 100% sure!” Lo and behold! At the mid-pregnancy anatomy screen (or later), the penis has magically fallen off and now all the sailboat motif and cute suspenders have to go back. Or vice versa. The question I always get is, “How did this happen???”


Loads of Room for Error

So, just how DID this happen?

Easy. It’s the scanning observer’s opinion, but it’s still just a guess. You assume he or she is experienced in making this determination…maybe, maybe not. Especially when this person displays such confidence in his/her guess, you feel sure that they must be correct in their guess. But it doesn’t mean they are; they can still be very confidently and entirely…wrong.

This is why!

External genitalia is just starting to develop later in the first trimester, and it will continue to morph and change in appearance over the next several weeks. All babies have a little something sticking out at 12 Weeks. But if Baby is a girl, that tissue will shrink and become recognizable as a clitoris later on, with labia seen on each side. If a boy, this part grows a little larger and becomes a penis. The scrotal sac develops over the next few weeks but is still quite small. And we cannot see testicles until somewhere around 28 Weeks (or maybe slightly earlier).


The Nub Theory?

12 Week Nub Theory

Most readers ask if this test has any validity. The answer is “some.” If (and, again, subjectivity comes into play here), if an observer knows what fetal angle to obtain and how to read the angle of the nub, you might have a 70% accurate guess. But that’s a few IFs. The observer also has to know when the angle is equivocal, meaning the protruding part is not one way or the other but somewhere in-between. In these cases, a guess cannot be made. Keep in mind here that even if the angle is perfect, there is still a ~30% chance of an incorrect guess! In other words, it’s not a hugely reliable predictor.


So, What’s the Best Advice?

Later is better! Wait for your mid-pregnancy anatomy screen at 18 – 20 Weeks. Below are great images of typical and normal-appearing external genitalia of each sex at this age:

male sex, 2nd trimester

female sex, 2nd trimester


If Baby isn’t cooperating, don’t put the heat on your sonographer to guess anyway. Part of a good sonographer’s job is also to know when NOT to guess.

The truth is that no one should be providing a guess for sex determination much earlier than this in pregnancy, especially for a fee. And certainly not with a 100% positivity attached.

Just because someone says she is 100% sure, doesn’t mean she is right.

Business is business. As long as parents will pay for it, someone will take your money and offer a guess. This is the unfortunate bottom line in the non-medical ultrasound business. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to one of these places. Maybe you just want to see a heartbeat and bond. This is understandable. But I caution you to pay for sex determination earlier than 18 Weeks.

All you moms who are thinking about paying for an early scan at a strip mall near you (or anywhere!), please first consider the above info. It might just save you a few bucks and some disappointment later. Alternatively, if you are the kind of person who can remain entirely neutral about any sex guess and just want to have some fun watching Baby move, go for it. Have a blast.

The biggest issue here is our own nagging, relentless, compelling need to know as soon as possible. But more of the same will keep happening. Businesses won’t quit selling as long as pregnant moms are buying. Let’s pass the word around, ladies. Just don’t buy what they’re selling!

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Posted on June 3rd, 2017 by

Frequently, parents do bring their other kids in for the ultrasound experience. And, sometimes, this is a good decision. As a general rule, kids about four and over find it pretty interesting and ask a lot of questions. They seem to understand that it’s their soon-to-be new baby brother or sister in there…even if they don’t quite understand how he or she got there in the first place. Out of the mouths of these babes is where some truly funny ultrasound stories and comments come from. It’s a cool experience and a neat bonding moment all rolled up into one little prenatal package.

Let me first divert a second to say that bringing a toddler can be a total nightmare. If you are considering taking your two-year-old (or less) as a spectator for your diagnostic anatomy screen, please, PLEASE, reconsider! Little Timmy has no clue what’s on that “TV” and could totally care less…no matter how much you point to the monitor in an effort to catch his attention. He just wants his toys and overdue nap and his snacks…or to just run around the exam room. Often times, he cannot understand why this strange lady is touching his mom…and he is not okay with that. Then the crying starts. At this point, none of us are able to fully concentrate on the task at hand or the baby that should be the center of attention.

However, what is so entirely cute is when kids do become engaged in what is taking place. The questions and statements that follow are some of the funniest and cutest! I’ll share some with you.

My all-time favorite is this. Mom comes in with her five-year-old son. He’s kneeling next to her on a chair, his hand on her shoulder watching intently. He’s quietly supporting her…so sweet. I’m pointing out baby parts as the fetus lies very still, napping. Mom is explaining all the body parts and organs as we go along. Suddenly, Baby starts to wiggle around like a little jumping bean, and Big Brother’s eyes fly open. He asks, “What’s he doing in there?!” I replied, “He’s swimming!” He stares hard at the monitor. All is quiet. One second, two seconds go by and mom and I are eyeing his expression. He’s searching and searching. A look of confusion comes over his face, and his eyebrows knit together. Then he asks a very concerning and valid question. “But where are his floaties???”

More Funny Kid Comments

From the youngster who wasn’t so happy about the strange little human in his house… When someone asked, “What’s your new baby brother’s name?” His reply? “Stupidhead.”

A seven-year-old big brother was very excited about his little sister and the state of her health. As I pointed out her spine on the moniter, he exclaimed “It’s a good thing she has one!”

Kids were always fascinated with the appearance of the fetal spine. Frequent comments were that it looked like alligator or dinosaur teeth.

A comment from a big sister: “Does he have clothes on in there?”

Two adolescent boys, about 12 and 10 years old, crossed fingers and squeezed their eyes closed in anticipation of sex determination of their new baby on the way. I froze the iconic image of little brother parts and broke the news. They squealed and cried, “NO! NO! NO! It can’t be! IT HAS TO BE A SISTER!” Poor little guys. They cried inconsolably for the entire remainder of the exam.

When a mom explained to her young son that he was going to have a little sister, he examined the ultrasound image with a very perplexed look and asked, “So, where is her pee pee?”

And last, but not least… Mom planted her feet in stirrups. As I began to insert the vaginal probe for her first-trimester scan, her very inquisitive four-year-old refused to sit in the chair next to her mother as commanded. Curiosity forced her to continually peek under the drape with confusion, and we couldn’t help but giggle with all her questions. “What’s she putting in your tootie, Mommy?” “Mommy, what’s she doing?” “What’s that thing in your tootie, Mommy?” …You get the picture. Now, that is funny.

Share Your Funny Stories!

We all could use a good laugh, couldn’t we? I know you moms have some hilarious moments to share, so please email me by clicking the ASK ME tab above. I’d love to share them with other moms around the world, too!

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Posted on May 30th, 2017 by

I always know that face..the one with the saucer-like eyes and mouth gaping open in utter shock as soon as I speak the words “transvaginal ultrasound” and point to the probe sitting so quietly on my machine. Poor gets such scathing rejection and so little credit.

I can’t really blame the poor patient. After all, a gynecological scan isn’t exactly something people volunteer for (unlike the OB ones! At least they have something cute to look at). I can’t tell you HOW MANY times patients have said, “Boy, these are more fun when there’s a baby in there.” A dollar for every one of those comments and I’d have a penthouse in Manhattan by now.

Most patients still in the baby-making stages of life are typically pretty familiar with a vaginal ultrasound. It’s how we see Baby early in the first trimester or monitor the cervix. But many young or older women are not familiar with my long, skinny friend and are mortified at the thought of this exam. These patients are always there for a problem which could be a whole myriad of issues from crazy periods to ovarian cysts.

One thing is for sure..give me a woman with pelvic pain and, I can promise you, the last thing she wants to see is any ferociously long object headed for her nether-regions! I first apologize then promise patients it’s quick and painless. At least they didn’t have to drink a gallon of water and hold it, which is precisely what some facilities still require for a transabdominal pelvic ultrasound (where we scan on top the belly). It is usually enough to get a slow and deliberately labored “Okaaaaaay, what do I have to do now?” But it’s still a consent! Goal.

Vaginal ultrasound is probably, to me anyway, THE best ultrasound invention since ultrasound’s inception. I tell patients it really is the difference between night and day. It’s much like looking out of a clear glass window versus one with a sheer curtain drawn. I would say that about 95% of the time, I can see better when using the vaginal approach. A very large uterus or pelvic mass, however, would require an abdominal approach.

Did you just say you want a little Ultrasound Physics 101?? Well, I thought so! I’ll make it short. The transvaginal probe is built to deliver a higher-frequency sound wave which doesn’t penetrate very deep into the body. It offers by far the BEST resolution because the uterus and ovaries lie close to the probe. When we scan over the pelvis with a full bladder, the fluid provides a window for the uterus and ovaries behind it. However, by the time the sound waves get all the way down to those organs and back, we have a somewhat compromised image. The vaginal probe requires an empty bladder which allows us to see the uterus better.

We cover the probe with a condom or glove and insert it into the vaginal canal like a tampon. We place the probe against the cervix only; it does NOT enter into the uterus. The cervix remains closed (unless you’re in labor) so it cannot push past this point. The sonographer gets a magnified image of the uterus and ovaries and the areas immediately around them. We measure the uterus, endometrium (lining of the uterus), ovaries, and any pathology that we see related to those organs. Air and gas are not our friends, so sometimes those factors interfere with a good image.

Usually, the whole scan takes about fifteen minutes. When it’s over, the patient usually says it wasn’t that bad at all! Frequently, patients will share the reason for their trepidation. It’s mostly because a friend had one done by a technologist with a heavy hand, making it quite a painful experience. I’ll usually respond by saying, “Firstly, you should ALWAYS tell someone when your exam is that painful. And, secondly, we don’t need to see your tonsils!”  I’m not a comedienne, but that comment usually gets a much-needed laugh, and the end of the scan is very appreciated:)


More coming about transvaginal ultrasound and your early OB scans with the release of my new book about first-trimester ultrasound. Hopefully, very soon! You can receive automatic updates on the book (along with a little something special when it publishes!) and the most current posts by subscribing to my blog. You’ll see where in the right margin! >>

Once again, THANKS FOR READING! And please feel free to email me any questions you have at

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Posted on April 29th, 2017 by
9 Weeks

9 Weeks

What Does Diagnostic Mean?

Anything “diagnostic” describes a test performed to try to find a problem. So, diagnostic utrasound 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. However, first and foremost, it 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 I Really Do When I Scan?

In a nutshell, my job requires me to see what’s in there 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, in other words, 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 any 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 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 that is beyond human hearing.  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.  Things 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.

Many other diagnostic ultrasound examinations are performed on many 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 is precisely why fetal sex is still incorrectly guessed! If the observer, or person holding the probe, is not very experienced at looking at fetal sex..oops!..wrong sex. And we’ve ALL heard those stories, haven’t we?!

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~ Coming Soon! ~

It’s all about first-trimester ultrasound and answers lots of questions for all you new moms out there!

Stay Tuned!

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Posted on April 29th, 2017 by
8 Week Twins

8 Week Twins!

What’s the Big Deal?

Your ultrasound results must always come from your physician! But why can’t your sonographer just tell you if everything looks okay? It’s so irritating when she won’t talk, right? The most frequent question a patient asks is if everything looks okay, healthy, or normal. Hmm, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this… Usually to the patient’s dismay, this is something we just can’t discuss with you. Read on for details about why we have to be so doggone tight-lipped.

We Report to Our Docs

My usual response when a patient asked this question is “Your doctor has to look at all of these images and he/she will discuss your ultrasound when you see him/her next.” Only your physician has the legal right to give you this information. Yes, it is my job to know what I am seeing and to recognize it when something does not appear normal. However, sonographers are not physicians. We are trained to perform your examination; not to manage the health of you and your baby. Your doctor studied for many years, learning how to do just that. And he or she is the only person who can answer the multitude of questions you will positively have if a problem IS suspected. Our job is to share what we see with your doctor. Your doctor examines the information and concludes whether he or she agrees with our findings. The doc then shares his/her interpretation of the information with you along with what options he/she recommends next.

But, But…

Occasionally, I will have a persistent patient or spouse who will say, “Yeah, but you KNOW whether you see something wrong or not.”  I’ll admit that I do, but I always defer to the physician’s interpretation. Sometimes, the patient presses a third or even fourth time, and I just have to stick to my guns. I know it is simply comes from a place of parental anxiety. We do understand. For the nervous patient, waiting for results can feel like a lifetime. I do empathize because most patients have a valid reason for being nervous. A previous lost pregnancy or abnormal scan is enough to scare serious fear into the hearts of anyone. I want expectant moms to understand that if your sonographer says something inappropriate, she could lose her job. Only your doctor can calm your fears and reassure you about your pregnancy issues in a way that no one else can. Your results are part of the sacred and private relationship between you and your doctor!

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Ultrasound in the 1st Trimester coming soon to a mobile device near you!

~ And as always, THANKS for reading! ~

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Posted on April 28th, 2017 by

Factual ultrasound information can be hard to find. No one knows that better than a newly expectant mom with loads of questions! How do you know what’s accurate and what’s not? With so much info at our fingertips, too much Googling just seems to lead to more unanswered questions, doesn’t it?

As a sonographer (ultrasound technologist) with formal training and twenty-five years experience in OB/GYN, I am amazed by what I read on other sites about ultrasound. And it’s not just from blogs and forums filled with personal opinion. Misinformation also comes from parent/child sites that the general public would expect to be reliable. These articles or posts, I realized, are written by authors with no obvious medical training or experience. If they have interviewed someone who is in the medical field, some facts seem to get a little lost in translation from interviewee to print.

Five years ago, I ran across a blog about ultrasound…the uses, technical details, what we can see, and how we can see it. The level of wrong in this post left me dumbfounded! It was clear to me that this person had absolutely no medical knowledge whatsoever! It’s not too hard to spot when they use the terminology incorrectly in nearly every sentence. What bothered me the most was that someone left a comment thanking this so-called author for the “valuable” information. It struck me then that many people actually do believe anything they read on this crazy web thing.

So, what to do?

If you have a curious knack for researching ultrasound in a search engine, just be sure to check out someone’s bio. Look at the author’s credentials. Do they reference their experience and knowledge in the field? You can determine whether that individual’s level of experience with a particular subject before taking the information at face value. If an author is not a sonographer, physician, or medical professional with ultrasound knowledge, just know that what you are reading may not be entirely accurate. And if you have questions about what you read relative to your pregnancy, ask your doctor! She or he is always going to be your most reliable source for credible advice on your health and that of your baby.

Bottom Line

My desire to create a platform where an excited new mom can find accurate info about ultrasound drove me to create this blog. Hopefully, expectant couples with curiosity about their scans can find a little general info here. Please feel free to visit the ASK ME page above. Ask me your questions; tell me your ultrasound stories. Remember, no blog, no site, no forum should give you pregnancy advice! We are not your doctor or healthcare provider, we do not manage your pregnancy, nor do we have any knowledge of the health of you and your baby. Carefully consider what you read, and direct any concerns to your doctor for the best advice you can follow:)

Stay tuned for the release of my first book about first-trimester ultrasound!

Coming Soon!

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9 Week Embryo

9 Week Embryo

Thanks for reading!


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Posted on April 27th, 2017 by

3D - 9 Weeks

9 Week Embryo in 3D

Ultrasound Facts vs Common Misconceptions

General Stuff

  • Technically speaking, ultrasound is the study of the subject (the field of ultrasound) and a sonogram refers to the examination itself.
  • Current biohazard testing reveals no ill effects of ultrasound on the fetus, mother, or sonographer. However, on-going tests show increasing levels of heat after scanning for several hours in one area. This is much longer than the time required for performing a diagnostic test. It is also why the prudent use of the technology is recommended. The benefits of the information from diagnostic exams for patient and physician currently outweigh the risks.
  • Ultrasound is just that..sound that is a frequency beyond human hearing. Nope, your fetus cannot hear it, either!
  • Someone newly trained in the field earns the credentials of DMS or Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. He or she has completed some sort of formal or on-the-job ultrasound training. This person is usually relatively inexperienced and has not yet passed the registry examination. This person should have direct supervision in performing your examination.
  • RDMS stands for Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. A sonographer earns these credentials when she has passed a registry examination in his/her ultrasound specialty. This person will typically have at least two years of experience. He or she should be qualified to do your examination without direct supervision.
  • 4D is 3D in motion or a live 3D image.
  • Most people are familiar with 3D imaging as a fun way to see the outside of their baby. This best utilized later in the 2nd trimester and mostly used for the face, hands, or feet.

    Performing Your Exam

  • Every practice is different. Most physician’s order a first-trimester ultrasound examination to date the pregnancy. This is usually performed with a vaginal probe. If no other problems necessitate another scan, the next is performed around 18-20 Weeks. Most women know this as the anatomy screen where the fetus and maternal parts are evaluated for abnormalities. This study is not ordered to determine sex! And determining sex at this examination is never a guarantee nor should it be an expectation.
  • The health of your pregnancy determines whether you will receive more ultrasound scans after your mid-pregnancy anatomy screen.
  • 2D ultrasounds are the grey-scale images you might recognize during your diagnostic examinations. Occasionally, a high-risk practice will usually also use 3D to assist in visualizing a fetal abnormality. We also frequently use the technology for GYN scans to attempt a better look at uterine shape and/or IUD placement.
  • The ultrasound machine is never “wrong” in determining fetal sex. It is the observer who is incorrect. Guessing the wrong sex can be due to one or a combination of many factors. It is possible your baby was in a difficult position to see well. Maybe you were too early in your pregnancy for an accurate guess. Additionally, an overall poor view can also limit fetal sex determination.
  • Ultrasound can never predict how much your baby will weigh at birth. All we can do is measure your baby’s head, belly, and femur for an educated guess at the time of your scan. We can typically track a trend for large or small babies. And we know the average gained weight in the last few weeks is about 1/2 lb per week. However, every baby is different!

Your Ultrasound Results

  • Yes, the sonographer can read your examination. But your OB/GYN physician or radiologist must ultimately interpret the images and report we create. Only your physician can legally give you results.

Patients ask me these questions on a very regular basis. I hope it was helpful!

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Posted on April 25th, 2017 by

Becoming a sonographer/ultrasound technologist was one of THE biggest challenges of my entire life. The training was challenging, but finding myself in a new field and technology where I was painfully ignorant and unsure?  Healthcare is not a place for the timid.

If I was going to work with physicians, I better learn what I was doing fast or go home. It took a while for the puzzle pieces to fit..a good 6 months to 1 year. Thereafter, little light bulbs of realization would flicker every time I put two and two together. It was a marriage of all things unfamiliar. I was learning to read patient charts, learning about labs and correlative examinations, interaction with the physicians and with my patients. All of these things were a recipe for growing my new career as well as learning the technology. In the beginning, it was more about “How do I not screw up?” rather than “Wow, that was a great case!”

I promise you, it’s not for the squeamish. If another person’s urine, vomit, or blood bothers you, Ultrasound may not be for you. I cannot emphasize that enough! It was a hard year, and I felt like I was walking a tightrope for the vast majority of it. Brutal.

All new sonographers will miss pathology. It’s a fact of the modality. Initially, you are too concerned with getting all the right images. You’re too inexperienced to notice minor pathology. This is why it is so imperative that a newly-trained sonographer has direct supervision from someone very experienced. With lots of experience comes confidence. After a while, a newbie will start to get a feel for his/her scanning ability and stop second-guessing herself. Was I not seeing an organ because it can’t be seen or because I just couldn’t find it? It’s an awful feeling. However, it is one that can be overcome with time and, again, experience.

The more normal examinations a technologist performs, the sooner she will know when a case is not normal. Ten to fifteen scans per day over the course of a year equals a good bit of experience. After the first few months of constant supervision (if you don’t have it, ask for it!), you will start to become a little more comfortable with the examinations. You’ll then only need a supervisor’s help when something isn’t right. You may not be able to pinpoint a diagnosis, but you know it’s not what you normally see. This is very important in your early career. Eventually, you will be able to put together differentials to possibly explain what you are imaging. It’s a good feeling when you get to this point!

It was a slow learning process, at least for me, anyway. Over the years, it became easier to work with the docs. More importantly, I learned how to better communicate with my patients, which has been the most rewarding. It feels really good to correctly diagnose a case. But it feels even better to have a patient sincerely thank you for your help…or give you a hug in appreciation. It feels good to know I’ve made a small but, hopefully, significant difference. It’s been a good career for me. And for those who are going into it, hang in there because it gets better. For those who have practiced a long time and feel the flames of burnout, take a vacation! We all need to step back and take a breather once in a while.

Every case is someone’s health and life at stake, and not a week goes by still without learning something new. What a sonographer finds or doesn’t will either lead that patient to other tests or not. It is sometimes intimidating to think that a patient is on your table and yours alone. It’s up to you to find the problem in question.

I always say I would never want to re-live those earlier years, yet they have shaped who I am. They helped me become a better sonographer. So get out there! Become a sonographer, become good it, research and read, and ask questions of co-workers and docs alike. Make a difference in someone’s life. Make a difference in your own:)

facial profile

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Posted on April 24th, 2017 by

Who needs an amniocentesis? When should an expectant mother consider an amniocentesis? What factors help a patient decide if an amniocentesis is right for her? Only your doctor can help you make this decision, but you can find out a little more about first-trimester genetic testing…some very basic information…here.

The internet is filled with all kinds of misinformation, right? I think most of us realize this and, hopefully, take forums of personal opinion with a grain of salt. However, I read an article last night in a popular parent/child site that I felt was a bit disturbing. We expect more credibility from these sites, don’t we? Shouldn’t we expect their information comes from a knowledgeable source? Maybe it did, but the author should have been more careful with her words. Maybe an author should have to meet more strict guidelines before publishing important recommendations for pregnant women.

So, the article was all about ultrasound…a subject with which I’m pretty familiar. She had a few tidbits of information incorrect. Of course, I had to respond with a comment correcting them. But one statement I vehemently disagreed with was one regarding amniocentesis. The author stated that any expectant woman over the age of 35 or with a family history of genetic abnormalities should have an amniocentesis. Should? This statement should have never been printed. Women faced with this option may search the internet for information to help them decide. I would like to think their decision would not hinge on an article found on the internet. In the same respect, I’m sure their readers consider them a reputable site filled with only accurate information.

The truth is that no woman should just hop aboard the amnio train (we use “amnio” for short in the field) without a serious discussion with her obstetrician. Granted, no obstetrician would perform an amnio without discussion and signed consent from the patient. However, I would hate for this article to automatically sway any pregnant woman to believe she needs it. The test and its results are not without repercussions. With that, I felt my next post should expound on the topic to the extent of my experience with it.

Things to Consider Prior to Amniocentesis

Genetics gets quite complicated, and some patients find it difficult to understand all they’re told. For this reason, I won’t go into too much detail about the different types of testing and what they can detect. This is mostly because I do not have this information. However, your doctor does. Most patients don’t just jump right into having an amnio. A patient is usually first asked whether she wants chromosomal testing.

Desiring this testing is typically based on a patient’s “need to know.” Why do you want the information?  If your mentality is such that you will have this baby no matter what, and you don’t need to know anything in advance, your doctor may say first-trimester testing is not for you.

However, if you are the type of patient who NEEDS to know normal vs abnormal, a host of other questions opens up for you. Will you abort this pregnancy depending on results? Or is abortion out of the question? If so, do you simply want to educate and prepare yourself and family for what is to come? If so, this testing may be for you.

What’s Included in Genetic Testing?

Some genetic testing includes bloodwork and/or ultrasound, the NT or Nuchal Translucency test which are all usually performed somewhere around 10-12 Weeks. It does not always include an ultrasound; that depends on what type of testing your doctor offers. The NT scan requires certification of the sonographer who takes special pains to measure a fold of skin behind your baby’s neck.

NT may or may not be performed prior to amniocentesis

NT test

This measurement, IF it can be obtained, then goes to a lab with your bloodwork. Sometimes the measurement cannot be obtained if Baby is not in a good position or if the image is not clear enough. Recent developments in bloodwork have become more reliable than performing an NT. Some physicians, therefore, no longer offer the NT and only offer the bloodwork. Some docs still offer both.

What Do the Results Mean?

If you elect to move forward, the next thing your doctor may explain is that this testing only determines your RISK for certain abnormalities; it does not confirm an abnormality. It is a risk assessment only. Your obstetrician’s office may perform this testing, or she/he may refer you to Maternal Fetal Medicine (a perinatologist, otherwise known as a high-risk OB doc).

If your results come back as low risk, GREAT! It means the chance that your baby actually has these abnormalities is low. Your next test would then be your anatomy screen at 18-20 Weeks to rule out structural malformations.

If your testing comes back as high risk for a particular problem, it will state which problem along with your risk level. This is where amnio comes into play. The amnio WILL confirm whether your baby really has this problem. You will have to decide whether you want to have this procedure or not. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of an amnio. The risks may be almost non-existent for infection and (last I knew of) around 1% or less for miscarriage. The risk may be significantly less, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor. The benefit, of course, is determining exactly what kind of abnormality you are dealing with so as to help you prepare in whatever way you feel is best for you and your family.

How Is an Amniocentesis Performed?

Basically, a sonographer will scan you to look for an adequate pocket of fluid. The doctor performing the amnio will determine what is a good pocket and what isn’t. Typically, they like to stay away from Baby’s head and your placenta, depending on where it is located. A nice pocket of fluid might look like the image below.

Pocket of Amniotic Fluid-amniocentesis

Pocket of Amniotic Fluid

The sonographer will measure your baby’s heart rate and anything else the physician requires. The physician will then clean off the area of your skin with betadine just above the desired pocket of fluid (as long as you’re not allergic to it!). Sometimes she may use a numbing agent for the skin, sometimes not. If not, it’s because she can only numb the skin and not down deep. The numbing agent feels very similar to the needle used to withdraw the fluid, like a stick and a burn and a lot like a bee sting. Since this is the case, some docs would rather stick you only once and elect to not numb the skin.

If you have an aversion to needles, you may want to look away. The needle is long because it has to reach the fluid. Usually, the needle is inserted with ultrasound guidance. They’ll ensure it is entering into the pocket as expected. Once there, the doc will attach a syringe to withdraw the fluid. Once she has enough fluid, she’ll remove the needle and push the fluid into a vial. The vial will be sent off to the lab for testing. If all goes according to plan, the whole procedure of performing the amnio will take about ten minutes or so. Pretty quick!

You’ll then be cleaned off a bit with a band-aid over the site. Many times it’s even hard to see on your skin where the needle was inserted! Your sonographer will usually measure Baby’s heart rate one more time, and your doc will give you instructions on receiving results.

What If I Really Don’t Want an Amniocentesis?

It’s important to note here that if you do not elect genetic testing and your ultrasound later reveals significant abnormalities, your doctor may strongly recommend an amnio. She/he may also do so in the case where you don’t really want an amnio, but your testing came back as high risk. Your doctor cannot force you to have an amnio. However, knowing what is at stake helps them manage your pregnancy and delivery more safely and effectively.

What to Ask Your Doctor about an Amniocentesis

It’s hard for us to ask questions about something if we don’t fully understand it. That’s understandable! Some questions you can ask your doctor are:

  1. What abnormalities does the testing detect?
  2. What kind of genetic testing do you offer?
  3. Will my insurance cover this testing?
  4. Who will perform these tests?
  5. Where is testing performed?
  6. When will I get results?
  7. Why is the testing recommended?
  8. What are my options after receiving results?


Having a thorough conversation with your doctor about these issues and how you feel about them is of utmost importance. And, yes, some genetic testing today can determine your baby’s sex with greater than 99% accuracy. However, your doctor will not allow you the option for sex only. No one should take genetic testing lightly. Opting for these tests brings about other serious implications that you must weigh, as you can see by the above explanation. If you have a sincere interest in the testing, knowing that you may face serious future decisions, genetic testing may be for you.

So, for all the above reasons, one should be careful when throwing out recommendations to pregnant readers about what they need and don’t need, about what they should do or not do…especially if she is not a physician herself. In short…ladies, rely on your doctors for pregnancy advice! No pregnancy site or blog, including my own, can take the place of an informative and knowledgeable conversation with your obstetrician.

Here’s to your happy and healthy pregnancy:)



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Posted on April 23rd, 2017 by

The male fetus on ultrasound can be a pretty easy guess sometimes! As I’ve said before, trying to guess too early can be difficult because Baby is too small. This is true no matter whether you are having a girl or boy. It can be a lot like trying to determine whether a tiny moving bug has six legs or eight without a magnifying glass. You can guess, but you may very well be wrong. However, at 18 Weeks and later, very obvious male external genitalia can be very easy to see and also a pretty funny addition to your scan.

At 18 Weeks and later, obvious male external genitalia can be very easy to see and even add a bit of laughter to your scan, especially when he’s showing off! Poor guy…he has no idea just how much we’re invading his privacy!

A mom-to-be wrote me a while back asking me for a second opinion on her images. No problem! I love it when it’s this easy. Check out her images below.

male fetus male fetus

Can you easily see this is a male fetus? I wrote her back and annotated the first image like you see below.

male fetus annotated

Even though most people may be able to easily pick out boy parts on their images, it sometimes just doesn’t look like other boy images you’ve seen. Or maybe they look nothing like your other son’s images. This is understandable to me because it’s a different baby and a different angle. No two images are going to look exactly alike! Part of the reason for this is because we all look a little different, boy or girl, right?

As far as angle goes, your sonographer might obtain a total underside view where both femurs appear in the image. Maybe Baby bent a leg just when boy stuff could be seen the best allowing only one leg in your shot. Other angles might include a shot from Baby’s front or side. All of these angles will make the image look different and maybe even unrecognizable to you.

Some sonographers don’t really explain the image and only throw up an arrow pointing out what makes your baby a male or female fetus. Don’t be afraid to ask if she can explain what’s on the screen. Most of the time, we don’t mind at all helping you understand!


Before signing off today, I want to say my book is now in the editing phase! I’m sure I’ll have some tweaking to do, but it is currently in some very capable hands. I know she’ll help me make it as enjoyable a read as I want to deliver to you (deliver…no pun intended!). I will keep you all posted as we get closer to publishing! As always, thanks for reading!


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Posted on April 11th, 2017 by

Yep, it happens..the mistaken fetal sex guess. It can happen to anyone and sometimes does! We all have heard the story somewhere. A friend. Family member. Someone’s friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law.. The truth is that the right conditions can make anyone susceptible to an incorrect guess.  Consequently, discovery of the opposite sex inevitably leads to a roller coaster of emotions!

I have certainly been on the giving end of that conversation. Most of the time, it’s not pretty. The result usually accompanies shock and wonder at how this could have happened, especially with today’s technology. This is the typical feeling. However, still get the feeling that the general public thinks it’s the machine doing the guessing and not the observer. It always has been and always will be the observer who guesses, very experienced sonographers versus new to the field. Other healthcare professionals are more experienced and better than others at scanning. And some observers, unfortunately and unbeknownst to you, are not formally trained in ultrasound at all! Some (in the 3D business) are taking a crack at your baby’s sex don’t even come from the medical field. Scary, right?

That said, a whole world of other issues can interfere with the guess of someone more than qualified to make it. Factors like fetal position and patient size can both make visualization limited. This last statement is not an’s a long-known fact within the field and has everything to do with the laws of ultrasound Physics. The more tissue the sound waves have to penetrate, the more limited the image will be once traveled back to the monitor. That said, I could see very well in a few of my heavier patients over the years and definitely struggled in some thinner ones. This is also because air and gas are not our friends in ultrasound. If your intestines are full, it can get in the way of what we need to see..even in the thinnest of people!

Readers from all over the world email me with their images for a second opinion on fetal sex. This can be very difficult when the image isn’t great to begin with. I always like to play it cautious..with my patients and readers. You’ll find one reader’s story below who wanted my opinion, but I was clueless. This baby didn’t look like a boy or girl to me, either!

She wrote initially expressing her confusion. She was 20 Weeks but couldn’t make out typical girl or boy parts. This was the image below.

Honestly, it looked a lot a like a girl to me but not a 20 Week fetus..maybe 25 Weeks or so. And it certainly didn’t look like a boy.

I wrote her back saying this:

Hi, this is not a very clear image but does seem to be a good angle. I don’t see anything sticking out so I would have to guess girl based on that alone. Maybe a future ultrasound may be more clear? I’m sorry I couldn’t help more!


She wrote me back a couple of weeks later:

Everyone said it’s a girl again. I was a little disappointed, but now he is here. Blessed with a baby boy. The family is complete now. Wanted to share this happiness with you. Thank you.

She was obviously much farther along than the image she sent, but I was a bit shocked that she had a boy (I have to admit)! However, I was so happy for her that she got what she wanted. My reply to her:

Oh, congratulations!! This is precisely why I don’t like to try to confirm sex with other sonographer’s images! Sometimes they just aren’t very good and depend on angle and experience. A lack of something in one shot is not a definite girl! Many blessings to you!

Now, obviously, we all look differently from one another and abnormally developing parts can cause confusion on sonography. I surely can’t say her baby didn’t have normal genitalia, but I’m still perplexed to this day. I feel very sure I could show that image to any of my former co-workers in ultrasound or docs, and I would bet my left arm they’d all guess girl!

I’d rather play it safe any day!


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Posted on April 9th, 2017 by

Hello again, readers! I know I owe you a post about an incorrect fetal sex guess. It’s coming! I’ll do my best to post that one this evening.

However, I need to deviate to put out a call to all of you for your 13 Week fetal images and measurements! As you may know, I’m working on my first book and I need YOUR images to complete this week of the first trimester! Especially if you have CRL or full body images and measurements, those are especially useful. Of course, I would be happy with any you’re willing for me to publish and all remain anonymous. Just email them to You may need to copy and paste the address. Scanning is best; but if you are taking a pic of an image, make sure there’s no glare from the light source above you.

I’ll keep you all up to date as my publish date gets closer. Thanks for reading and helping me to complete my book!

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Posted on March 13th, 2017 by

Deciphering fetal sex can be a very difficult job, especially when trying to read an image taken by someone else! Sometimes, it’s a piece of cake.

So often, when readers send me their images for a second opinion on fetal sex, I just cannot provide a confirmatory guess. This is either due to too early gestational age, too poor an angle, or too poor an image. Sometimes, it is a combo of all three!

Ultrasound is such a different animal because it is nothing like just looking at a photo of someone and recognizing that person. In a photo, you can see what’s in the distance or up close to the camera. With ultrasound, we cannot. We can only see exactly what is directly under the probe. It is a 2D (two-dimensional) image only, and we have to move the probe around to obtain different angles to create that “photograph” in our minds. And there are so many variables that go into creating a good ultrasound image.

Since ultrasound is completely subjective and observer-dependent, some sonographers take great images and some..well..don’t. It’s much like comparing a professional photograph to an out-of-focus, too dark, cell phone group portrait where everyone has red or white eyes. You know, the ones you always see posted on social media?

I am too much of a perfectionist. This wasn’t always a good thing when trying to take keepsake photos for patients because it caused me to run late on more than one occasion. And everyone knows people don’t like to wait in a medical office! Factors to take into consideration are maternal and fetal position, angle, magnification, depth, as well as brightness and contrast of the image. It’s a learned skill and some are simply better at it than others. Some just don’t tweak all the knobs as much as they should. Maybe they were never really taught how to do so very well.

And some things that cause a poor image are just beyond a sonographer’s an uncooperative fetus, extra weight around a patient’s abdomen, or a gassy patient. This has everything to do with the laws of ultrasound physics which dictate the further sound waves have to travel, the poorer the image; also, sound does not travel well through air or gas. I’ve scanned heavier patients where I could see pretty well and thinner, gassy patients where I struggled to see at all! That said, I can tell when an image is not great or when she didn’t work with all the knobs. This can make reading an image snapped by someone else extraordinarily difficult. One image represents only one angle. Scanning real-time allows me to look from all angles possible, where I can subjectively determine my confidence in fetal sex..or whether a guess is too risky at all.

ALL that said, sometimes taking a second guess is easy-peasy. Check out the email I received from a reader about whether her baby is a boy. Her images didn’t leave much of a question in my mind:) She was just over 20 Weeks along. Can you tell what she’s having?

mama: Hello, I’ve been following your blog, and I was wondering if you could take a look at my baby’s scans and give me your opinion on gender. We were told it’s a boy, but I’ve read that girls can have parts that look similar to boys? I agree that it looks like a boy, but wanted a second opinion. Thanks!

male fetal sex

male fetal sex

wwavblogger: LOL No ma’am! Little girls don’t normally look like that at 20wks! I will wager my bet on a baby boy:) Congrats!

mama: Lol! I wasn’t quite sure but I’ve had a feeling it’s a boy from the beginning of the pregnancy!

Reader mom! I forgot to mention in my reply to you that, yes, girls and boys can indeed look similar, but that is more true between the 12-16 Week range when parts are small, just developing, and when combined with other factors that come into play which result in limited visualization!

Did you guess boy? If so, I agree! Compare the images I’ve edited below.

boy parts1-jpeg

boy parts2-jpeg

Even though it would be quite unusual for this to be a baby girl, I’m still always a bit cautious about guessing fetal sex based on someone else’s image. When I’m casting a vote for Team Blue, I like to ensure I see a scrotal sac which requires a slightly lower angle. Sometimes, you can obtain both scrotal sac and penis in the same image, sometimes not. I get a slight impression of a scrotal sac here where I placed the circle. The sac at this age can appear quite small, and testicles are not expected to descend until about 26-28 Weeks. This is why scanning real-time helps; it allows me to see Baby at all angles possible, while moving and stretching and opening his legs more.

Stay tuned! My next post will be one where a questionable and poorly technical image comes into play. Mom wrote back saying she delivered the opposite sex. Oops!

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Posted on January 16th, 2017 by
10 Week Fetus

10 Week Fetus

In my efforts to put together first-trimester information, I realized I left off the 10th week of development! So, without further ado, let me introduce the 10 Week fetus. We both need this for my blog and book!

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 cute teeny 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 will likely still have the dreaded vaginal ultrasound at this point! The image obtained with this method still yields the best quality for Baby’s peanut size and this is part of our job, utilizing whatever method is going to produce the best image.

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 two more weeks until you reach the second trimester! Exciting stuff:)

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Posted on December 25th, 2016 by

This is just a short note to say I hope you all experienced a very Merry Christmas today or whatever other exceptional holiday you celebrate this season! As our kids grow up, they tend to fly the coop in search of their own goals and dreams (how dare they?). So, even though gift giving and receiving is sleigh loads of fun, I am so thankful my children could be with us! I’m entirely aware I’ll have to share my little elves with another family one day but for now I will relish in my selfishness. Hopefully, your homes were filled with lots of love, family, friends and happy healthy pregnancies.

facial profile

What a cute profile, huh? Many blessings to you all!

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Posted on December 17th, 2016 by

Let’s talk about twins today, how we see them early on, and when we diagnose them. I’ll answer a reader’s email about her fraternal twins and their placentas.

But first, I’ll extend my apologies for how long you’ve waited for another post! Moving is hard work, and I’m finally settled. I am also diligently working on my ebook about first-trimester ultrasound! Hopefully, it will be ready for publishing within the first quarter of the year! More updates later..

Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate this holiday season! I know it means something different to every person but, for our family, this is a time to spike the egg nog, decorate the “Griswold Family Christmas Tree” and recite too frequently from our favorite movies. He’s an ANGRY elf! 😂 Most importantly, we count our blessings.

For all of you expecting a new addition, and especially for those of you planning to hang up more than one extra stocking, this post is dedicated to you. It’s a question from a reader about first trimester fraternal twins.

mamax2: Hello there! I am having twins and I’m currently 13 Weeks! This ultrasound was transvaginal at 11 Weeks when we found out we were having twins. I had an earlier ultrasound where we only found one baby (8 Weeks and 3 Days). I’m shocked and amazed that my body has done this. I’m now concerned that my babies could be sharing a placenta or a sac (I really shouldn’t Google!). I see the white line between them but what does that actually indicate? Also, the lighter line (bubble) around the top baby, what is that? I guess I just need clarification on what I’m looking at.

11 week twin sacs

My OB has yet to tell me if we have one or two placentas, but said he thought they were fraternal.

I should mention I had a miscarriage at 20 weeks of a singleton boy in Feb 2016. After genetic and placenta testing, it was deemed an unexplained loss. I’m very anxious about this pregnancy as I know the risks are higher with a twin pregnancy.

Thank you for your time! Have a blessed day!

wwavb: CONGRATS x 2!! Wow, so much to cover here..I’ll try to answer all your questions!

First of all, yes! It’s an amazing thing our bodies can do! You had two babies who decided to go along on this amazing journey together! I always told my patients with a history of miscarriage that it’s quite possible your last baby decided he is ready to start on this journey again and just wanted a companion! Our babies have to be ready for this big old world, too, right? They have to come when they are ready..not always when we are!! So, that said, I am so sorry for your previous loss because it is such a terrible and painful experience. I know it will make you a lot more anxious in this pregnancy but just try to remain positive. It’s a good thing nothing terrible was found,  even if it doesn’t provide you a physical reason. Maybe these babies will give one another strength!

Only one baby was seen at 8wks because whomever scanned you missed the other one! We have to scan entirely though the uterus from one side to the other or we can miss multiples..i.e. your experience!

And, no, you should not be consulting Dr. Google. Mistake! You’ll never find the answers to your questions, only anxiety and more questions.

To address your question, your babies are not sharing a placenta or a sac! Yay! This is the safest scenario for twins. Dichorionic/diamniotic.

11 week twins

The white line between them is the wall between the two main sacs (yellow arrow). The very thin line you question is the amnion, the sac immediately around baby (five straight yellow lines). (Please note, readers, the baby in the top sac is not well seen..this is a better image of the bottom baby). Later in the pregnancy the amnion adheres to the chorion and you won’t see it separately.

Because each baby lies within its own separate main sac, you likely ovulated twice, each baby will have its own placenta, and they can be opposite sexes! This is why your doc said your babies are fraternal. He knows they have their own placentas and I’m sure he would have told you if you asked him. I recommend keeping a running list of all your questions for your doc and next visit!

As a high risk pregnancy, please keep in mind that billions of women have had normal twins forever and you can, too. See your doc regularly and follow all advice..basically, take care of yourself!

I’m so happy for you three and I wish you a multitude of blessings and all things uneventful in this pregnancy!! I have a number of posts on twins so please look them up! I hope I helped:)

Best wishes,

mamax2: Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much for your quick response! I appreciate it far more than you know! I feel relieved knowing they are not sharing a placenta or sac! That first ultrasound just really made me wonder!

You’re such a sweetie and I appreciate your uplifting words towards my pregnancy and my loss. I’ve struggled with fertility and never imagined my body would/could release 2 eggs without fertility meds!

Again, THANK YOU! I can breathe a little easier now! ❤️️

In summary…

I was so happy to answer a few questions for her! This mama emailed me again a couple of weeks later with an update..

mamax2: I just had to message you back to let you know…YOU’RE CORRECT! We have fraternal boy/girl twins! Thanks again for easing my mind and fears! We are now 16 weeks! Thank YOU!


I was so happy to hear both babies were still growing well at 23 weeks! Now THAT is a Christmas blessing;)

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Posted on October 11th, 2016 by

Ever wonder what your sonographer might be thinking as she calls you back for your exam? While I cannot speak for all, let me give you some insight into some of the heavyweights at the forefront of my thoughts with each new patient.

What’s in a Job?

Firstly, we have a job to do. While the patient may be wondering why she wasn’t called back at her exact appointment time, your sonographer is already very busy with the business of having you as a patient. We are busy with a checklist of items that must be completed before we ever call your name! We are examining your chart and looking for your doctor’s order (we cannot begin without this!). We have to determine why you are coming to see us in the first place, so we have to know what type of exam needs to be performed. Oh, yeah! Your prior pertinent medical history and testing are pretty important, too. In other words, we have to be able to answer the 5 W’s…Who, What, When, Where and Why:

    • Who are we scanning? Who (what provider..doc, nurse practitioner) ordered this exam?
    • What type of ultrasound exam are we performing?
    • When was she scanned last and what was found? Do we have that report(s)?
    • Where are we targeting the examination?
    • Why are we scanning this patient?

Patients or Patience?

After spending so many years in the healthcare field and encountering a challenging personality type or two along the way, we sonographers wonder whether our next patient might be naughty or nice? The Rolodex of mental questions might look something like this:

  • Will my brain get picked for some interesting ultrasound facts or will I get the silent treatment? It is a bit awkward when a patient has nothing to say…I mean zero words.
  • Will she need to beat her dueling children because they won’t let her focus on Baby #3 (who may turn into Baby #1 if they don’t quit fighting)?
  • Siblings are sometimes the most comical addition to an exam, but will I have to listen to “Let It Go” on a tablet for thirty minutes – again?
  • Will her family sound like my Italian kin at Thanksgiving in that tiny. enclosed. room?
  • Will it be standing room only with Grandpa breathing down my neck for the whole exam? Gramps is really nice, but he’s gotta mosey on over to the other side of that table.
  • Will I have to ask Dad to take their screaming toddler back to the waiting room? We hate to kick anyone out. But our eardrums can’t take it, and admin typically frowns upon keeping rum in our exam rooms.
  • Will I get the evil eye if I say that I cannot determine what sex she’s having? And will she then rant on Facebook that I have no idea what I’m doing? I hate when this happens.
  • But seriously, and most importantly, will this baby look normal?

The Questions We Get Almost Every Time

Does everything look okay? Do you see anything wrong? Is my baby growing well?

These are all valid questions, to be sure! But as most patients know, they are ones that only your doc can answer. Legally, only your doctor can review the exam and determine its results. Only she/he can discuss these results with you even if they’re negative. Why is this? So that they can also provide you with the comfort and answers in the face of concerning findings.

My answer was always relatively the same. “So far so good, but your doctor has to review the images and give you the results.” Every blue moon, a patient express that I must know what I’m seeing. I would always agree but reiterate the rules.

There are times and extenuating circumstances where you may know what your doctor is following. In these cases, we have to be careful with our words. Every practice is a little different with respect to how much your sonographer can say. It’s a fine balance! Too little, and we cause you to worry. Too much, and we could be fired!

Of course, every sonographer on the planet is happy when they enjoy the time they have with their patients and families and kids. Some of my favorites have also been the loudest, most fun, and the funniest! One thing is for sure…I can definitely sing the “Frozen” theme song with your kid the next time you visit:)

Many blessings and happy, healthy babies to you all! Feel free to email me at with any questions or comments!

wwavblogger, RDMS

wwavblogger, RDMS

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Posted on October 3rd, 2016 by

Hello, All!

I am finally back to the writing and posting process after what seems like a year. I apologize to have been out for so long but I did my best to keep up with responding to your emails;) The past few months have been crazy with planning a wedding, getting married, selling my house, packing up my life, leaving the great practice I worked for and moving across the country! Yes, it’s been intense and I don’t recommend taking on so many challenges at once! Attempting to prove myself a superwoman was never a goal I set out to achieve; all the events just sort of lined up and fell into place this way so I did what any other half-crazed woman would do which is to just go with it!

That said, now that I am starting life anew and one that is sans daily ultrasound accessibility, I will continue to answer your questions considering I still am in possession of knowledge to do so (unless dementia sets in) and I have a few new images and info I can post for you. This blog will be morphing a little as I will be working on a book of first trimester ultrasound images and some other artful creations you may want to purchase for your baby shower or gender reveal party. So, in the meantime, please pardon as I am under reconstruction!

So, in conclusion, if you are still with me, let me say THANKS! If you have any particular areas of ultrasound you’d like me to cover, please feel free to submit them by emailing me. If there is any particular item you’d like to see on my site, give me a shout!

Thanks to all of my readers who have subscribed or emailed with your questions and concerns over the past few years. I hope I have helped you understand with a little better clarity or helped you sleep a little more soundly. I am unsure at this point whether I will ever go back to clinical healthcare but, you can be sure, I have learned as much from you as you have from me!

Blessings to you for happy and healthy pregnancies!


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Posted on July 6th, 2016 by

I’m so sorry here for the pun! I am..or maybe I should say I DO! Yes, we’re finally getting married after several beautiful years together and my girls could not be happier!

So, firstly and regrettably, this post is not about ultrasound and I realize I may have left you hanging for quite some time. If anyone knows what I mean, it’s you moms out there who have ever planned your own wedding or maybe you do this for other people for a living! (God bless your souls.) I used to think you people were only for the rich and famous. You really should just be bestowed a PhD for maintaining our damn sanity. It’s a million little activities that rob one of precious sleepy time. And does my family know I need THAT..

Leave it to me to take on the world at once. Not only is it stressful and labor intensive to get married but to plan a wedding, to sell one’s house, to pack up one’s house, to attempt to sell one’s house while living in it, to leave a job of 15 years and a kid (ok, so she’s not a kid at 21) to relocate someplace entirely new.. Get the picture? Whew..I’m exhausted just writing it!

We do have friends and family in the new’s about starting anew and breathing life into our lives. Some of the planning is actually beginning to be a little enjoyable even though I have lost a few brain cells along the way. Who stores cheese in the spice cabinet? Anyone planning a wedding and moving and leaving a career all at the same time! Yes, I said it. I believe I may be ending my career in ultrasound.  It’s not a definite yet. I do still really enjoy some aspects of my job and I might even actually miss it enough to start over. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I am concocting all sorts of creative ideas for my blog. I’ve been wanting to publish a book about the blog and possibly a children’s book or two, get creative with baby shower gifts and accessories and sell them all right here on my site!

So, I beg of you, please forgive my absence until then. I may try to sneak in a post here and there but I plan on getting back into the swing of things after September! Please continue to email me with your  ultrasound questions and I’ll always try to provide you with some clear and clever insight!

Do I miss my babies and patients and readers already??

I DO;)

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Posted on May 12th, 2016 by

What’s the worst position a fetus can be in if you want to determine fetal sex? You guessed it! Look no further than the image below to answer this question. The breech fetus compromises most of what both you and I want to see.

What You Don’t Want to See

breech fetus

This image is really an example of just how much position plays a part in how well we see. This baby (above) is not only lying in a breech position, or butt-down, but baby is also facing Mom’s back (prone).

The wait for your 20 Week sonogram and whether you’ll be shopping for pink or blue may have you losing sleep! The LAST thing you’ll want to see is your baby looking like the image above. It spells one word…disappointment. If baby stays in this position throughout the examination, the possibility of seeing anything cute is essentially nada.

20wk facial profile


Above is an example of baby flipped over and looking up. How much better do you see baby’s face?

Here’s hoping you have more luck than this patient did for her anatomy screen ultrasound exam!

Email me with your questions and comments at

wwavblogger, RDMS

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Posted on May 8th, 2016 by

In commemoration of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a message with you, all my readers who are mothers or mothers-to-be themselves, from me, a mother of two myself. A mom and one of fame for being a great one, Brene’ Brown wrote a beautiful and inspiring letter of family law to her children. A very intuitive someone special introduced me to her Parenting Manifesto. Look it up if you haven’t already done so! I’ll give you a little dose today of my own passionate advice for what parenting means to me. If this offends some of you, I’m sorry you are offended. These are simply my personal observations and opinions! Enjoy!

We see it in the workplace and all around. Everywhere there are mothers of children of all ages. Some moms are good…really good. Good at much-needed discipline. Good at constructive criticism. Good at loving their children for who they are. Some, not so much. Some are aloof. Some over-attentive, much to the annoyance of everyone within earshot. “Do you want a game or a song? Do you want this song or that one? Oh, not this one? Do you want it louder? How’s this? Do you want a snack, too? Which one?..”

For Pete’s sake..just give the kids something and if they don’t like it, they get nothing. Two choices, that’s it. An old friend of mine always said this to her kids. “You get what you get and you don’t care a bit”. And there’s nothing wrong with the “this or nothing” style of parenting! Kids don’t need 40 choices to make them happy. They might need 40 choices to make you happy and them quiet. But what happens is, inevitably, the 40 choices are not enough and the parent ends up scrambling for more and more options, so the kid requires more and more and more things to make him happy. And quiet. The problem with this is it’s unrealistic to maintain throughout the child’s life. They cannot be accommodated to contentment in every place of business, education or leisure they visit. Nor should they be. I think what this leads to is an expectation from the child of the rest of the world to cater to their every need and whim. When they can’t have their way, they have a meltdown. This isn’t fair to their sitters, teachers, other family who have to be in their presence or the rest of humanity who has to bear witness to said meltdown. Is this the child’s fault?

Or how about this scenario. A 2-year-old is allowed to run up and down grocery store aisles or halls of a doctors’ office because “she’s not hurting anything” or “he just loves to run everywhere”. So what? There’s a time and place for everything. You’re going to feel differently if someone on a mission comes barreling around the corner and knees little Timmy right in the forehead, punting him straight into next week. It won’t be pretty! And I’ll feel really badly (because, of course, it will be me that will coincidentally do the punting) but the first thing I’ll think after Timmy is revived is why the hell this parent was letting her kid run around in a place of business, anyway?? I just don’t have much tolerance for lack of discipline or common sense.

Our job, first and foremost, is to love our children and, secondly, to prepare them for this thing called life. And loving them is not defined as giving them everything they want. Contrarily, it’s providing what they need and, if we/they are so fortunate, some things they want.

Our children are gifts bestowed on us. They are of us but they are not us. Even though we know they have their own personalities, likes and dislikes, we spend our whole lives pushing onto them our belief systems, mores, ideals, hopes, dreams and expectations. No one is perfect. I’ve done this myself. However, my own discovery reveals that one of the hardest but most beautiful things about being a mother is to realize how your child is different from you and then to embrace and encourage their strong suits in life. It’s an incredible thing to watch your child flourish. Flourish passionately. That’s what I want for them.

I was blessed with two very talented, driven and creative young women. As they have segued into adulthood, my only requirements are that they have a productive goal(s); that they work hard to achieve those goals; that whatever they do, they do it with 110% passion, that they work on their spiritual selves and that they make a positive contribution to society. With relationships being a give and take, my pledge to them is that I will always do whatever I can to help them reach their goals as long as they are doing their part. They both will make incredibly devoted wives and mothers themselves one day, if they choose, and a couple of spouses will find themselves very lucky and very happy, indeed.

My children know I love them both more than life. They know I’ll be honest in my opinions and that I’ll always act in their best interest, even if it’s not what they want to hear. My job or goal when they were adolescents wasn’t to be their best friends or the “cool” mom. I’ve made mistakes in judgement and have regret some of those decisions. What’s the old adage? Hindsight is 20/20? Any parent who ever really parented knows what I mean here. We want our children to forgive us when we make a well-intentioned mistake; we should do the same for them.

So, to sum up my lessons of motherhood, let me roll it into a nice, neat little ball with a few bulletpoints that worked for me and my family:

•Our children need love, structure and boundaries. They will have boundaries their whole lives so we must teach them what those look like from the earliest time they can understand it.

•Mutual respect is earned and cannot be demanded. They’ll grow to respect common sense decisions when you hear them out, demonstrating their feelings are important to you.

•Create family rules and consequences. Be consistent! Who can respect a rule that you allow to constantly be broken?

•Tell them everyday you love them. Hug your children and tell them how proud you are of their accomplishments. Don’t you want to work harder when you receive kudos for a job well done?

And, lastly, who cares what sex we have? Patients of mine who find this of the utmost importance, this is for you. We never have any guarantees in life what path our children will take. You wanted a child. You were blessed with one. There are no guarantees for healthy or heterosexual, football star, ballerina, doctor or straight-A student. If a child was sent to you, you earned the blessing or needed him or her.

So support him or her.  Encourage him or her.

And love him or her your whole life and beyond.

He or she deserves nothing less.

11wk fetus

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!😍

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Posted on April 17th, 2016 by

Every once in a long while, or blue moon, I receive an email posing a phenomenal question regarding diagnostic ultrasound! And it’s not one about fetal sex, much to my sheer happiness. Keep reading to see what was on her mind..

concerned mama:  Hi there! I would love to get your opinion on something, if you don’t mind. I was born with bilateral congenital hip dysplasia, and therefore have a 1/12 chance of having a baby with the same issue. I was just wondering, is there any way to spot this on U/S? We have already had our 12 w NT ultrasound, but I was wondering if I should ask at our next one (19w). I know it’s not a major life threatening issue, but I just wondered if it would be worthwhile to ask about when we next see a sonographer. In case early U/S can help you spot red flags for dysplasia, here is a shot of my little one, I believe in spread eagle position, showing both hips (?). I’m no expert 🙂

Thanks for any info you may have! 🙂

wwavb:  Excellent question! In short, no. (Her image was omitted here since it is not relative to her case or this post.) Hip dysplasia is questioned by the pediatrician during neonatal examination and can be confirmed by ultrasound of the newborn by scanning the hip joint in a particular plane while applying pressure at a specific point to see if it’s pushed out of place. I did a few of them many, many years ago and cannot recall all the details of the exam, per se.

Thanks for the great question and I hope you will continue to read! Many blessings for a happy, healthy pregnancy!


It has probably been something close to 20 years since I’ve performed just such an exam. Wow, time flies when you’re having more fun than one can stand in the hospital setting.

If I remember correctly, hip dysplasia is a repercussion of certain long-term fetal positions and I seem to recall a correction involving the newborn in leg braces for a relatively short period of time. Please, PLEASE ask your OB or pediatrician if you have questions about the most current and up-to-date information on the subject and treatment of this condition.

And KUDOS to this reader for asking me a question I’ve never gotten in my entire career!

Many blessing to all you expectant lil’ mamas out there and don’t hesitate to email me with your question by clicking on the ASK ME page above. Thanks for reading!

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Posted on March 14th, 2016 by

It’s time for a post of the comical persuasion. I love those and they seem to sprout up all too infrequently in this business!

Kids, being some of the funniest people I know, also sometimes bring along their humor in the form of complete innocence as only untarnished young humans can do. Yes, more often than not they show off their bad-assness but those are usually the ones who haven’t yet mastered the English language (heck, there are many adults who haven’t accomplished that) but who have learned they can scream to be held or put down as only toddlers typically do. Those precious little peeps, as I’ve posted before, are better left with a sitter at home or anywhere than in my exam room:)

So, the other day as I’m scanning Mom, her son is watching intently. He is about five – and the perfect age to really get something out of his baby brother’s ultrasound. This baby was SO active that it was a little challenge to measure or image certain parts. Imagine chasing a moving target or that shooting game you see when the fair is in town. That’s a bit how scanning a busy baby feels when my caffeine level needs a boost.

A side note here – some patients will actually go on a sugar binge or leave no carb uneaten at the brilliant advice of some friend who said it would make the baby move more, thereby allowing us to more easily identify fetal sex. For the reason listed above, I do not recommend this! The only thing worse than a moving target in the 3rd trimester is a much smaller moving target in the 2nd. And though it is true a fetus that won’t move makes it difficult to determine sex, one that won’t stop bouncing off the walls long enough to get a good look doesn’t help, either.

Usually, when I’ve spent a little time chasing Baby around the uterus, I’ll sometimes make a comment about it like, “Wow, Baby is a little wiggle worm in there today!” or “Baby is running a marathon!” This day I made the wiggle worm correlation. Mom chuckled. Son was silent a few seconds. Then, with a very perplexed wrinkling of the face, he very sweetly and innocently asked, “How did a worm get in there?” 😂

Mom and I had a good laugh and Big Brother got a little explanation of the expression. I’m still not sure he understood the comparison, though. Hopefully, he hasn’t had nightmares about meeting his baby for the first time and seeing a swaddled chubby little worm peeking out instead!

If you have a funny such story to share, please email me,, and share! Those pint-sized people know how to keep us in stitches, don’t they?!

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Posted on March 12th, 2016 by

Everyone wants a healthy baby. It’s something we, as humans, take for granted unless we know of someone who experienced the misfortune of having a child with problems.

I think anyone who has ever come up against the discovery of a fetal abnormality on ultrasound can relate to the devastating feeling of receiving the news. No matter how insignificant the issue, even if your physician wasn’t worried, you sure were..not understanding fully what was seen and/or not being given a definitive diagnosis. Waiting on more appointments and tests and more results only adds to the anxiety. Sometimes the testing leads to a distressing diagnosis of a baby with life-long complications..a syndrome or some structural malformation requiring surgery after birth.

Sometimes, things we see may be cause for concern enough to warrant a referral to Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) so that a Perinatologist can determine the nature or severity of a problem. They may know exactly what is seen, what to call it and how to follow it. For those who are very lucky, following a concern for period of time results in resolution of the problem. Hallelujah! Your constant companions, Worry and Anxiety, get kicked to the curb and you feel you can finally exhale, breathe again and no longer have to contemplate the what-ifs of your pregnancy, your newborn or how it might impact the lives of your whole family. You can finally get some well-deserved sleep and actually enjoy things like your baby shower, decorating the nursery or filling the closet with precious miniature clothing.

So, all this brings me to a patient who made me entirely livid yesterday. She had the audacity to complain about how she was followed with one of her previous pregnancies for a suspected problem pertaining to Baby’s pelvis and a mass seen on ultrasound. The area had been followed for months when it spontaneously resolved. They couldn’t explain it nor was there any further reason for them to see her again. She was released back to the care of her regular OB physician.

What’s that? Prayers answered, you say? Amazingly great fortune? Blessings galore bestowed?

Nope. Not according to this peach.

Her only comment was what a total waste of time it was..”months of anxiety and follow-ups for nothing”. So…would she rather it hung around? Would she have been happier had it enlarged to the point it required surgical intervention at birth? Believe me, she expressed not one iota of appreciation, relief or gratitude..just anger that we found something, she was inconvenienced and made to worry for “no reason”. Are providers supposed to have a crystal ball and magically know whether everything we see will or won’t be a problem? We’re not God.

I will make no apologies for the scope of my look for and find abnormalities, big and small. We’re good at what we do so I won’t express regret that we found something others may have missed. I’m sure she was happy her baby was healthy. It simply would have been nice to hear as much.

Moreover, said peach also complained about a number of other issues. I wouldn’t let her bring in ten people during the exam, I was too mean to let anyone talk on the phone or video the exam and I didn’t give her enough images. Did I paint a pleasant picture here of Miss Mary, Quite Contrary? I think she needs to talk to a patient who didn’t get the good news she did…like the patient whose baby had three barely identifiable heart chambers instead of four and who has needed three surgeries so far in her short little life…one at birth and two more before she turned three.

Diagnostic ultrasound is meant to aid a physician in finding a problem and preparing the patient through education for what is to come. Life is all about perspective, isn’t it? We can either take up residence in the victim mentality or wear those proverbial rose-colored glasses. There’s something to be said for the glass-half-full frame of mind. At the end of the day, I will always prefer to catch an abnormality than to miss one!

Wishing you all happy and healthy pregnancies! ‘Til next time and thanks for reading;)


Comments: 2 Comments »

Posted on February 22nd, 2016 by

A very common abnormality seen on an anatomy screening ultrasound examination mid-pregnancy is the presence of choroid plexus cysts in the fetal brain. Read an email from a very concerned reader and my response on the subject. Maybe you have experienced receiving the same anxiety-filled results from your doctor?! Try not to lose too much sleep. In the absence of other concerning findings, these cysts are very likely benign and usually resolve over time.

worried mama-to-be:  Hello there! I just stumbled upon your blog. It is so cool! I love your writing style and what you are doing. I have been thinking a lot about fetal ultrasounds this week. I am 21 weeks pregnant and last week had a routine ultrasound. They found bilateral choroid plexus cysts but didn’t mention anything else except limited views of the diaphragm. We even have a sonogram of her little thumb out which to me is reassuring even though it’s not all 5 fingers extended. However, we have to wait a little over a month for a level II. This week has been so so emotionally tough dealing with the unknowns. I’ve stared at our ultrasound images looking for a nasal bone (we didn’t get the coveted profile shot) and read about every single Trisomy 18 marker there is. Would love your perspective on this if you have any to offer.

Thanks for doing what you do to care for all the babies!

wwavb:  HAPPINESS!! Finally, an email that doesn’t ask about sex!! Your email is my next post:) You’re very welcome and I’ll be happy to lend you my two cents on the subject.

Firstly, I’m so sorry you are feeling so anxious and I know how disconcerting it can be to hear news that there are “cysts on your baby’s brain”! First bit of advice I will give you is to quit looking up info on the web. All it will do is fuel your anxiety because it will give you more information than you need while not answering the only question you have..about your baby. Trust me on this! NO DR. GOOGLE.

Secondly, I’ve seen these cysts for years on more babies than I can count. They are very common. The general thought is, and I can only speak in generalities here because I have no other information regarding your case, is that they are a benign process as an isolated finding. Possibly a duct becomes stopped up in the production of cerebrospinal fluid whereby the cyst develops and typically resolves by 26wks. This is likely why you are not seeing the perinatologist immediately. That AND the fact that everything else looked good.. Usually, if found in conjunction with a syndrome, other abnormalities are also seen on ultrasound like heart or other organ malformations. If no other hard or soft markers are identified, we usually do a repeat scan to ensure the resolution of the cyst(s) in about a month. I’ve seen them hang around only ONCE in all my years!! ..when everything else was normal-appearing, that is.

That being said, I cannot tell you all is okay but if my daughter was the patient, I would not be worried knowing what I do and if all other genetic testing was normal. The cysts may even be resolved by the time you see MFM!

Good luck to you, many blessings and try not to worry!! I hope all is great when you go for your next visit. Please keep me posted, won’t you?

Best wishes!


To reiterate, of course I cannot assure anyone that their baby is normal. I can’t do that for my own patients! This is because I am not a physician or your physician, a perinatologist or geneticist. I can only say I see them a lot and most of the time they are a benign and non-problematic process.

If you have also had this experience and it turned out to be nothing, please comment to this post!

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Posted on February 8th, 2016 by

Not all ultrasound images are created equal! I know I’ve said this before but it is difficult for many people to understand that not all images between a baby’s legs produce an image of fetal sex. It is a tricky business!

An image may include part of a rear, part of a leg or foot or part of a cord without ever including external genitalia. Sometimes part of the genitalia might be in the image but if not entirely or at the proper angle, determining boy or girl just can’t be done. This is why you may have gotten an email from me saying that I just cannot confirm your baby’s sex even if you had a sonographer who contrarily appeared very sure with her guess. In my professional and very discriminating opinion, if her angle isn’t great and the image is questionable then her guess carries just as much weight in my mind.

A good analogy is if you look at a closed fist as certain angles, can you tell if all someone’s fingers are there? If you look at someone’s foot from the back, can you see whether they have toes? The same can be said for any number of body parts, not to mention any other thing in the world. Looking at a person standing directly in front of you doesn’t mean you know what they look like from the back. Oh, you might assume but you truly do not know whether you would find a curly pig’s tail or a third arm projecting from his back!

This is why not all images people send me of fetal sex are good, nor are they obviously boy or girl. So many factors go into what makes a good image, angle being the most important of all these. But that, my friends, is a post for another day!

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Posted on January 20th, 2016 by

How early can we detect fetal movement with ultrasound? The earliest signs of movement are typically seen around 8 weeks gestational age. Baby, who looks a bit more like a gummy bear at this point, starts to demonstrate the slightest intermittent wiggle every once in a while. It is such exhausting work!

Below is an image of a 9 week fetus taken with transvaginal imaging. With this type of approach, we are able to visualize a greatly magnified image, giving us also a better view than over the tummy. Baby is right about one whole inch now and tiny arm and leg buds can be seen slightly larger than just the week before!

9 week fetus/fetal movement


Now, below is a video which is quite entertaining of the same little tidbit breakin’ it down! Shall we dance?! She (or he) is making up a jazzy little tap routine right before our eyes. Click the link below to watch her go!

fetal movement at 9 wks

Isn’t the degree of movement incredible to watch? Of course, none of it is well-thought-out choreography but is instead the nervous system hard at work. What an amazing work of art we are:)

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Posted on January 10th, 2016 by

Hi, all! Tonight’s post serves as just a reminder when you go in for your 18-20wk diagnostic scan.

Remember that, at the end of the day, we all get what we need. Boy or girl, sometimes it’s your child-to-be that needs you or you that needs this child for whatever reason which you may not understand entirely right now. Maybe you’ll never really know while living this life; maybe you have instinctively always known. Regardless, I do believe that most people at the time of delivery do not ultimately care about fetal sex, no matter the preference previously. We take one look at that face and stare into those eyes and most women fall in love instantly. This is the child whom you nurtured all along. You’ve finally met!

So, as I’ve said a million times, it’s OKAY to have a preference of one sex over the other so long as one remembers that healthy is more important than anything else. Just ask someone who lost a baby or who experienced a difficult pregnancy. Moreover, ask a couple who could never become pregnant or suffered infertility many years. Oh, they may choose to still find out with subsequent pregnancies but it’s not top priority on their list. Typically, when asked if they want a boy or girl, they are usually pretty quick to respond “Healthy!” It’s all about perspective.

As with anything in life, keeping an open mind about such things allows us to keep our priorities in line and provides us freedom from sweating the small stuff! (And most of it, like fetal sex, is small stuff..)

Best wishes for a happy and HEALTHY pregnancy!

Comments: 3 Comments »

Posted on January 2nd, 2016 by

Ever wonder what all the black represents on a fetal sonogram? It doesn’t matter whether it is amniotic fluid, blood in the heart or vessels, fluid in the brain or urine in the bladder, all black structures on ultrasound represent fluid of some sort.

It all appears black because sound waves travel easily and quickly through fluid creating the black appearance. The more dense the tissue, the more gray the appearance. As a matter of fact, about 32 shades of gray are evaluated between the black of fluid and the white of bone, fat and some interfaces of different tissues.

See the images below for some examples of organs that contain fluid:

fetal abdomen/black ultrasound structures

Above are several structures containing fluid. The IVC or inferior vena cava, the aorta and the UV or umbilical vein are all blood vessels. The GB or gallbladder contains bile and the stomach holds the amniotic fluid that baby swallows!


fetal bladder/black ultrasound structures

Of course, the fetal bladder holds urine filtered by the kidneys.


amniotic fluid/black ultrasound structures

The amniotic fluid around baby is black.


Below, the blood within baby’s heart also appears black.

fetal 4 chamber heart/black ultrasound structures


Now, next time you watch a scan, you will be able to understand and read just a little of the examination!


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Posted on January 1st, 2016 by

fetal profile


Happy New Year, wwavreaders!

I hope 2016 holds in store for you a happy and healthy 365 days. I also wish all you mums-to-be a year of uneventful pregnancies, easy deliveries and beautiful bouncing babies in the months ahead.

I hope you all will keep reading, emailing and referring your other expectant friends to wwavb for all your ultrasound questions. I’ll always do my best to answer your emails ASAP! If there is anything you’d like to see on my blog for the new year, anything you’d like me to address or any changes you’d like me to make, I invite all recommendations!

Come back tomorrow for a new post and have a prosperous 2016!


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Posted on December 30th, 2015 by

Now that our stockings have come down and we are once again staring Baby New Year in the face, it’s time to get back to ultrasound basics! Here is a recent email regarding that doggone nub theory. I just love emails that make me feel warm and tingly all over..or could that still be the egg nog?

hormonal mama:  Hello!! 🙂 I just wanted to let you know that your blog has been a complete saviour to me and my sanity over the past few nights. It is brilliant and informative and just what I needed in my hormonal state.

I have one question that I have been searching the web for a definitive answer to and I was hoping you could shed some much needed light.

We had our 12 week NT scan and the US machine seemed to be a LOT better than the photos I have seen posted, videos I have watched, etc. We could see extraordinary detail of the baby. The sonographer was checking all the usual parts and suddenly without warning he showed us the perfect potty shot (I was 12w1d). Now I know from reading that people say they all look the same at this stage. But what I cannot get over was how much the image showed a perfect little penis poking out the top of a round bulbous structure.

I’ve googled and you tubed 12wk girl vs boy potty shots and I just cannot get a girl scan that looks like an actual penis.

I’m clinging to the smallest shred of hope that I may still get my girl after seeing this but it was just so obvious and so so so clear.

Thank you so much in advance for any advice or insight you can give me. I’m so disappointed in myself for feeling gender disappointment. I didn’t realise how much I wanted a daughter (this is our last baby) until I saw that potty shot.

Please tell me honestly; I can take it!!

Yours very gratefully,

Ps. I think what you are doing for ladies like me is fantastic. I cannot believe I found you after all my searching for answers! An actual professional who answers silly hormonal women’s questions! Not a forum full of people who claim to know it all and actually know very little! 🙂

wwavb:  Thank you for all the nice things you’ve sent my way;) I appreciate it and am so happy you are enjoying reading my blog!

So, maybe you haven’t yet come across my posts on the subject. Cling away! Boys and girls can look EXACTLY alike early on. The links below will give you more information:

Check out the links below for my images of fetal sex which are textbook, classic, no-guesswork-needed images of both male and female sex:

All that being said, it’s okay to have a preference but we all get what we need in the end. Having another boy means you needed one another for whatever reason! I hope you’ll sign up and keep reading at;)

Best wishes and Merry Christmas!

hormonal mama:  Thank you for replying; I’m so grateful! I have posted a link to your blog on our pregnancy group page. I hope it gives some other ladies peace of mind. (And a good giggle!)

I was recently told by an US tech in the group that there is a “nub” on my image. But I am notoriously useless at seeing them. Would you be able to confirm (or deny) if there are any genital parts visible? All I’m seeing is legs and a cord. I know the angle of the dangle is not a reliable theory (from your blog!) but for someone to say she can see it on my scan, it would be helpful if I knew if it was even visible!

Many thanks again and again 🙂

12wk fetus/nub theory

wwavb:  Thanks so much! I, too, hope they get some useful info and a giggle, also;)

Does the sonographer in your group practice OB? Experienced or new to OB? I question because I entirely disagree. Every baby has a nub at this age. You just cannot be sure what the nub is. If she is referring to the thing sticking out near the butt, that is too large to be the nub in question so my thought is it’s baby’s cord.

And actually, to see the nub, the plane needs to be centered between baby’s legs which means you would not be able to see the legs in this view. See the image below:

Suspected Baby Girl at 12wks/nub theory

No legs here! That could be a tiny foot way above the arrow, however.

This tells me the angle on your baby is not perfectly centered and is a little too far lateral whereby including the leg in the image. I hope this makes sense! What a cutie, by the way;)

Keep me posted!


It’s entirely possible to get excellent images at 12wks and this theory is reported to be about 80% correct. If you do the math, that leaves 20% repainting a nursery if they believe it. decide if it’s worth it!


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Posted on December 25th, 2015 by

Merry Christmas to all my readers!!!

I realize not everyone is an expectant mama but to all of you who are or who find my site today looking for information, I wish all of you many blessings for a happy, healthy pregnancy unless, of course, you’ve already delivered your special little stocking stuffer!

For those following Baby’s First Christmas ideas, no matter how you chose to deliver your news today, the most important thing is that you’re spending it with those you love the most. I hope it’s a fun and special day for you and your family! Share your story with me and other moms-to-be!

Thank you for your support, for reading my posts and especially for coming back! Thank you also for your positive and kind words and comments. They mean the world to me and give me the incentive to continue writing. When I started this, I had no idea I’d even reach one person. After over three years, I’ve received emails stretching all over the globe from Europe to New Zealand to India. So amazing!



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Posted on December 24th, 2015 by

With visions of sugarplums dancing in your head and new babies growing in your bellies, Day 1 of Baby’s First Christmas leaves you with a final gift idea for your spouse, grandparents-to-be or friends!

What else besides Baby’s First Christmas ornament would be appropriate?

Check out some of the sweetest below:

Day 1 Baby's First ChristmasDay 1 Baby's First ChristmasDay 1 Baby's First ChristmasDay 1 Baby's First ChristmasDay 1 Baby's First Christmas

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


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Posted on December 23rd, 2015 by

We’re so close to Christmas Day now I can almost smell the gingerbread. Just in case you are still racking your brain to come up with the most clever baby announcement ever for your spouse and if the other ideas didn’t float your proverbial boat, Day 2 of Baby’s First Christmas is sure to be a winner for the family of animal lovers.

If your family loves its pets as much as we do, they have their own stockings hung by the chimney with care, Santa fills them with their favorite snacks and you even share a little tidbit of Christmas dinner with them. So, why not incorporate your pet into the new baby newsflash? In other words, let your pet make the big announcement! Dog and kitty collars come in so many cute styles today. Choose one with a small frame attached including baby’s first image something like the one you see below, for example.


Day 2 of Baby's First Christmas


Imagine Dad’s surprise when Fido comes running in to wake him up on Christmas morning and he notices the new addition attached to his collar. And if new baby news will be a huge surprise, the delivery will be, too!

No pun intended;)


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Posted on December 23rd, 2015 by

Shoes, shoes and more shoes! Where were all of these absolutely adorable can’t-live-without-them tiny foot facades when my kids were little? I swear they didn’t exist.

Day 3 of Baby’s Fist Christmas finds us gift-wrapping your favorite pair of sweet baby shoes. It’s so easy and makes a great gift for anyone you want to share the good news with this holiday season. It really doesn’t matter whether you know baby’s sex or not. Any positively precious pair will do. You can certainly go neutral easy enough but what the heck? Go with the newborn ballerina slippers if Dad has always dreamed of his Little Princess.

I Googled “baby shoes” and found some of my favorites below. Some are store-bought, some hand-made artistry. If you love these, look for them in Images and click there to learn where you can find them. Totally adorable!

Day 3 Baby's First ChristmasDay 3 Baby's First ChristmasDay 3 Baby's First Christmas
Day 3 Baby's First ChristmasDay 3 Baby's First Christmas


The best thing about this gift? You’ll get to keep it;)


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Posted on December 21st, 2015 by

We are one day closer to Christmas so here are some ways to share some special news with the special partner in your life. Day 4 of Baby’s First Christmas is celebrating the professional or favorite pastime of your spouse with these creative options.

For the music man in your life, maybe attach baby’s first photo on a music sheet on his music stand or piano or inside his instrument case.

If he’s all business, hide baby’s image inside his briefcase. He’ll probably try to get some work in on Christmas Day, won’t he?

For your fisherman, attach baby’s pic to his new lure or fishing pole that Santa will deliver Christmas morning (only if he’s good, of course)!

Basically, just incorporate baby into whatever your spouse will be doing Christmas morning. Even if that’s simply being glued to the new big screen on the wall, use Apple TV (for example) to show baby’s first image as soon as he powers it on. Sweet!

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Posted on December 20th, 2015 by

Merry Christmas, everyone, and I have to apologize for not posting the past couple of days. There’s nothing like being under the weather to keep you from completing the old to-do list. I guess Christmas bugs don’t care much that we have an extra long laundry list this time of year!

All that being said, Day 5 of Baby’s First Christmas is here with another gift idea for you. Most everyone loves cookies and even if you haven’t set them out for Santa in the past doesn’t mean you can’t start this year. It’s never too early to begin this tradition.

To set cookies out for Santa means you need a special plate to hold them. Try your hand at a piece of pottery. Paint the words “Cookies for Santa” at the top and “Love, Baby (Last Name)” at the bottom. Go to search engine images for all kinds of variation in design. Place three baby-themed gourmet cookies on the plate. You can frame your baby’s ultrasound image to set next to the plate or have your positive pregnancy test on hand.

What a great way to surprise your spouse Christmas morning! Serve up a plate of reality along with a great cup of coffee! Sometimes the best Christmas presents don’t require paper and a bow;)

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Posted on December 17th, 2015 by

Tonight’s ideas involves Christmas dinner and a few ways to surprise everyone at your table! These should be pretty quick and easy.

For colorful mashed potatoes, consider dropping in a teeny bit of food coloring to serve a pink or blue side. You can add a couple drops to anything white or light in color..gravy, cake, icing, pies, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream or bread, just to name a few.

Did you know you can die a hard-boiled egg from the inside out? Of course, you can! (Okay, I won’t pretend like I knew this before writing my post.) Think of it as a reverse Easter egg. Boil as usual, peel then color. Voila! Pastel deviled eggs.

Check out your recipe ingredients and simply add your shade of choice to whatever ingredient that will add the most interest to your table..sans the colored turkey, of course.

I hope Day 7 of Baby’s First Christmas made you excited for your grocery list!

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Posted on December 16th, 2015 by


Day 8 of Baby’s First Christmas asks if you come from a long line of football fanatics.  Do you and your spouse cheer in front of your mega-screen TV Sunday afternoon in team-colored body paint playing host to forty neighbors, grill smoking and keg chilling? If you have a hard time choosing between a family vacation and season tickets, wrapping one of the items below might be the best way to share news of the newest little quarterback or cheerleader in your family! The options are literally endless and finding something adorable from your favorite pro or college team should be a piece of cake. Check these out!

Day 8 Baby's First Christmas

Maybe Dad might like to wake up to see your new nightshirt on Christmas morning! (Hopefully, you’re not this far along when you first discover you’re pregnant!)


Or maybe these?

Day 8 Baby's First ChristmasDay 8 Baby's First Christmas

You don’t have to be a Saints fan to think these are so cute! But hello. It’s NOLA. And who doesn’t LOVE Nola? If you don’t, you’ve obviously never been and you are no longer allowed to read my blog;) “Who Dat?!”


Maybe Nonna and Papa might enjoy opening something like this:

Day 8 Baby's First Christmas


And in in keeping with the spirit of all things Christmas decor, something like this might make a cute little announcement to the fam at Christmas dinner:

Day 8 Baby's First Christmas


Score! Christmas shopping was never so easy.



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Posted on December 15th, 2015 by

We’re now into single digits! Tonight’s post will be short and sweet. Day 9 of Baby’s First Christmas gets us one day closer to Santa’s arrival (and Baby’s) with yet another idea for storage under the tree in fancy paper and bows.

Maybe you already know whether you are expecting a son or daughter and have already begun to fill the closet with some of your favorite outfits. Perhaps spending a little too much time at your favorite children’s boutique? Nonsense, right?

Maybe instead you have a cherished christening gown passed down as a family heirloom from one generation to the next. Monogrammed bloomers and bibs, smocked floral dresses and baby blue linen overalls are all adorable gifts that tell Dad or grandparents just who will be joining the family in the coming months. Of course, in my mind, nothing beats a first trimester ultrasound image but I am attempting to supply you with a plethora of unique choices!

Only once in my career did I have a couple who came to their ultrasound appointment with their children and two boxed newborn outfits, one for each sex. Instead of enclosing the surprise in an envelope as most do, they asked me to choose the appropriate color and simply tell them which box they needed to wrap. Cute idea. Then everyone is surprised on Christmas morning!

Come back tomorrow where we’ll look to pro sports for more inventive solutions to inspire the Santa in all football-loving moms-to-be!

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Posted on December 14th, 2015 by

Ho Ho Hot chocolate! Everyone knows this holiday just isn’t without cozying up to a warm cup of liquid love..topped with melted marshmallows, of course! Chocolate is one of my most beloved things in the whole world. Solid, drinkable, intravenous..I’ll take it any way I can get it and so would most of my patients;)

Day 10 of Baby’s First Christmas countdown brings us one day closer to celebrating Santa, gift-giving and all the fun firsts of pregnancy (in keeping with the spirit of the season, we’ll exclude all the NOT-fun firsts). Here is another great idea to explore when trying to decide how you might share with family and friends whether they will be buying pink or blue for your shower.

If you’re hosting a Christmas celebration, consider serving hot chocolate with pink or blue marshmallows. They come in any number of shapes and sizes and thanks to our friend (sometimes), the Internet, your favorite shape and flavor is just a click away if you search Images. Aren’t the ones below so cute?


Day 10 Baby's First Christmas


Day 10 Baby's First Christmas


An even more creative idea, but a little more work, is using white chocolate and food coloring to tint the drinks the appropriate hue. If you’ve never used it, a little goes a long way! I recommend adding one drop at a time to the milk mixture until you reach the shade you want. Pastel looks best in my opinion with white marshmallows.

Add your favorite “It’s a Boy or Girl” napkin for service. If you’re going all out, I’m sure some company out there would print your kid’s adorable mug on them! Hopefully, you were one of the lucky ones who’s fetus cooperated with position.


20wk facial profile


3D fetal face 33wks

I’m such a sucker for a cute face;)

Come back tomorrow if you need more Christmas ideas for Baby!


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Posted on December 13th, 2015 by

Day 11 of Baby’s First Christmas brings some of the greatest excitement in life..breaking the news to your spouse that you both are expecting! Regardless of whether this is your first experience together or not, watching the positive sign pop up is pretty mind-blowing!

I’m sure many who share this news via a Christmas gift have thrown a positive pee stick (or many!) into a box and slapped on some snowman paper. I have to throw the “Ew” flag on that play..not the most sanitary of presents! However, I do have a couple of suggestions if you insist on going that route.

1. Drop it into a small clear zip-top plastic bag. Wrap as you would any other present.

2. If you want to make it a little more festive, you can use a clear holiday plastic gift bag with a fun print on it. No gingerbread men or chocolate-covered pretzels here! Drop in the stick, tie with your favorite ribbon and add a gift tag that says something like “Merry Christmas! You’re going to be a Daddy!” Or, if this isn’t your first trip around the proverbial block, you can add “(again)” at the end:)

3. A slightly different approach in the selfie era would be to take a pic of yourself holding the positive stick. Print and wrap the image. Drop into a cute little holiday frame if you choose.

4. Some women never see the positive stick. Instead they are blind-sided with the news of another baby at their doc’s office with an ultrasound! Boy, have I seen a few of these:) So what they may get instead is even better and might look like this:

Day 11 Baby's First Christmas

8 week fetus

or THIS!

Day 11 Baby's First Christmas

8 week twins

A few ideas for presentation could be dropping it into Dad’s stocking, opening it as a gift together or hanging it on the tree and telling Dad he has to find his surprise. Maybe your spouse is working out of town or in the military. No problem! The age of technology as never been more of a friend to us for just such an occasion. Email a holiday card including your special pic.

No matter what approach you take, hopefully it yields happy tears and celebration all around! Congrats, guys! Getting this far is a big deal.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you both!

Stay tuned for more clever baby news ideas as the countdown gets closer to Santa’s big arrival (and Baby’s!).

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Posted on December 12th, 2015 by

Let the countdown to Christmas begin!

On Day 12, we celebrate Baby’s First Christmas and it doesn’t matter whether he/she has made the grand entrance yet or not! You are busy this holiday season, racking your brain on creative ways to make breaking baby news a special event for family and friends. Maybe you want to share that you are expecting; maybe you want them to know whether to buy pink or blue!

Idea #12 is probably the most obvious but likely the most popular. The Christmas tree ornament is a beloved adornment for most celebrating this holiday. Many of them have special meaning or represent something unique to its owner. See below for a number of ways to work Baby into something cherished for the tree.

1. Fill a large clear ornament with a pink or blue filling of your choice. The filling could be crinkle shredded paper, for example. Use pink and blue filler together if you don’t yet know baby’s sex.

Day 12 Baby's First Christmas
Take a photo of your ultrasound image so that you have a JPEG saved. DON’T laminate it. It’s thermal paper and exposing it to heat of any kind will ruin your image. They also do not photocopy well. Print out several small images of Baby Sprout in the first trimester or a profile or foot, gently roll and insert into the ornament. A better option might be to use an ornament like this:

Day 12 Baby's First Christmas

Top it off with a cute pink or blue bow or pink and blue raffia if you are using both colors of filler.

2. Using a clear glass ornament, fill with white or iridescent filler, add baby pic and top with thin hemp ribbon. You can add silver glitter numbers with Baby’s due date on the back or simply 2016.

3. If you’re living life coastal, add white glitter to finger starfish. Top by tying pink or blue ribbon or raffia around the top finger. You can also paint the starfish with a very pastel pink or blue and top with an iridescent ribbon or thin hemp rope.

These are just a few ideas to get you started! Come back for tomorrow’s post when we dive right into Day 11’s bright idea.

Have fun making your ornaments!

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Posted on December 11th, 2015 by

Often times my patients express some disappointment with prior ultrasounds because “baby wasn’t looking at the camera”. This isn’t something “baby does”. We have to intentionally obtain the front view of the face in order see it that way. But why? This is NOT your baby’s best side! I always tell them that seeing the face from the front mostly yields a skeletal appearance..eye sockets and triangular nasal bones..very jack-o-lanternesque. It’s a face only a mother could love!

The shot of the face I always strive for is the profile or side view. In this plane we can see the soft features of the face like the nose and lips that look more like a baby.

Since amniotic fluid is ultrasound’s best friend (and mine), we need a nice pocket of fluid in front of baby’s face to see it well. If baby is facing your back or has it smushed into the placenta, fahgetabouttit!! It will be a “no paparazzi” day for you which means you’ll likely get some precious images of hands and feet only to take home {“Oh, just look at that cute big toe!”}. Let me just say I love some baby image AND to chew! But patients feel a bit let-down when the little diva doesn’t cooperate.

So, if you’ve ever been shown a profile on ultrasound and thought you had no idea what you were seeing, check out the images below for a detailed annotation of two great ones! Both of these babies were just over 20wks.


fetal profile at 20wks

fetal profile at 20wks

In the image above, a little more fluid (the black stuff) in front of the face would have been helpful, as you can see the tip of the nose and forehead just barely touch the uterine wall and placenta in front of it. However, it’s still a great shot!


fetal profile at 20wks

fetal profile at 20wks

How about this one?! PERFECT! This is an absolutely beautiful textbook image of a fetal profile. Can you appreciate how there is more fluid in front of this baby’s face?


If only ALL the babies I scanned looked like this.. SIGH. Such is life. All issues are relative. I suppose if every fetus was as cooperative as the one above, I’d never get any real work done! Mama would sure be happy, though, with a string of pics a mile long;)


Ho, ho, ho!! That day is drawing closer and closer so keep a look out for the first installation of holiday baby reveal ideas in my 12 Days of Baby’s First Christmas posts! We’ll start the count-down on December 12 where I’ll share some creative ways my patients have shared new baby news with their families. Maybe you’ll fall in love with one that’s perfect for you!

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Posted on December 9th, 2015 by

Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s a crazy and hectic time of year but I’d like to encourage everyone to stop and smell the pine sap. We moms are especially used to multi-tasking until we collapse but Christmas shopping and planning is not a fun addition to being pregnant right now!  It’s a special season filled with special surprises but let’s face it, when you’re carrying around one or more little gingersnaps in your oven, easier is ALWAYS better!

What’s fun about Christmastime babies at the office is when parents come in looking for some unique way to find out fetal sex or break the news to family. They’ve come up with some great options over the years! I think as long as two people share the moment together, any way they choose to share it could only be fun.

So, in the spirit of the season, I’m going to share the 12 Days of Baby’s 1st Christmas where each day I’ll post a different way to share the experience with your family and friends. Some may be dated ideas; some you may find clever and a perfect fit for you. Either way, I hope it creates a special memory this holiday for you and all your loved ones.

Regardless of whether you are shouting from the rooftops of a new addition or pink vs blue, creating these gifts can be fun for the crafty mom but also a great way to incorporate older siblings in the planning. Sometimes, they just need to feel included! Start looking for these posts on December 12. Get those glue guns fired up, people!

As a reminder to anyone tempted, I DO NOT recommend paying for an elective scan to determine sex at 15wks! I would estimate probably 85% will still appear equivocal at this point. Christmas is expensive enough! You don’t want to have to repaint a nursery, too.

Stay tuned!

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Posted on December 5th, 2015 by

Two of the most feared words in any woman’s vocabulary..

ovarian cancer

Most people think of ultrasound as relative to OB and cute baby pics but every one of us humans walking the earth are only here via a once-inhabited uterus. That said, the specialty is nothing without the study of the non-gravid uterus, as well, thereby forever tying it together with Gynecology.

A large part of my career is dedicated to the fetus-free uterus and her companion ovaries. Call me crazy but it’s actually a nice departure from scanning many back-to-back uncooperative babies. A complicated pelvic scan can, however, be every bit as challenging as the moving target of an active fetus. Combine a difficult tilt to the uterus and multiple fibroids (muscular tumors) with moving intestines and lots of other pathology and, suddenly, babies are decidedly a little more fun to scan.

The hardest part of scanning babies is obvious. The occasional miscarriage and abnormality can be devastating. But another kind of trauma is finding the incidental ovarian mass with features that leave our suspicions high for cancer; a large cystic or solid tumor with septations and vascularity are a few.  Though we can never be tissue specific with our suspected diagnosis, I know when I am imaging and measuring this mass that the outcome is likely not good.

My heart immediately sinks and I feel an overwhelming sadness for this patient, especially at this time of year. Instead of enjoying the holidays with her family during what is a happy and celebratory time for most, I can’t help but think of what she must be feeling. I imagine she may have broken down in tears as she left the office. I wonder, just as I’m putting my head to pillow, if she is doing the same and praying tearful prayers. I imagine her having to break the news to her family who will lose sleep with worry that their mother, wife or sister may not be with them for next year’s Thanksgiving feast or Christmas dinner. I wonder if she is overwhelmed this season with too much information she doesn’t understand, unending tests and thoughts of all she’ll have to endure over the coming months..painful surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. I ask myself if she even has that much time. She’ll know very soon.

I ponder this stuff because I imagine this is the personal roller coaster I would be riding. But I write this not to be a downer, but to give cause for some inspiration. This IS the season for inspiration, right? Sometimes, it’s these very people who have been presented with just such a challenge that seem to be the strongest people we know. They have fight and positivity and realize their priorities. They know how to value what is important.  Too often we are way to busy to do the same.

So, if this isn’t the season for spiritual strengthening, faith, family and celebration of our time together, I don’t know what is. These little gifts can be something we put in our own stocking this year, right next to that cute little bundle Santa just delivered.  Merry Christmas and enjoy those you love this holiday!

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Posted on November 28th, 2015 by

Every once and a while a reader sends me a great question that isn’t related to fetal sex. This one is related to GP or Gravida/Para as seen on her ultrasound report.  See the link below:

curious mama:  Just curious on the report on the right where it says GP and williams in that box. What does that mean? I’ve seen on another person’s report the same thing but in the box beside GP it says male AB. Just confused what this GP stands for?

wwavb:  Hi and thanks for your great question! Look for it in my next post! GP stands for Gravida and Para, meaning how many times you were pregnant and how many live babies you have given birth to at the time of the scan. For example, G2P1 means this is your second pregnancy and you have 1 child. Williams stands for the program used to calculate age, named after the physician who developed the method. You are reading the two together but they are not meant to be. GP simply was not filled out on this report and most of the time isn’t because the information is redundant; it’s already in your chart so it’s not necessary to enter the info again on the report. All machine manufacturers’ reports look different so it would not be unusual for your friend’s report to say something different. Hope this helped!


I do have to say this is part of the pitfall to EMR. Hence the multitudes of patients calling in for explanations of non-urgent matters which have to be triaged by knowledgeable staff. Patients should have all their questions answered, however, it can be costly and time-consuming for practices, to say the least! Patients should be given results, just not reports.

Thanks, reader! Hopefully, others searching the same question find this post!

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Posted on November 19th, 2015 by

“How sure are you?” I’ve heard this question probably more than any other in my career.

Every sonographer is different. One person’s sure is another’s iffy. I’ve seen images where a person was told one sex and the sonographer had “no doubts” only for me to scan later to confirm how very wrong she was. The fact here is that as long as people keep wanting to see fetal sex by ultrasound, there will always be challenges surrounding the guessing fetal sex.

As long as ultrasound-for-entertainment businesses are allowed to remain open, they will continue to take money from any person who wants to pay them. They will guess at sex because you are a paying customer. You paid for a guess; they’ll give you just that. But is it right? Who knows?

From my end, as long as new graduates and people with little experience are guessing sex, there will be incorrect guesses. Since we all practice differently, there will always be some sonographers, even experienced ones, who jump the gun and guess too early or despite suboptimal visualization. Others are more cautious, examining from every angle but still hesitant to commit.

I’m more of the latter persuasion. I want to be VERY sure, superduper sure, sure-as-white-is-on-rice sure. I need perfect views in more than one angle and textbook imaging. In other words, baby parts have to be ultra obvious for me to feel comfortable making a guess. There will be none of this 70% stuff on my watch. What does a percentage mean anyway except that someone is just really not sure! Does anyone really feel comfortable with buying pink or blue based on that? ..Or painting a nursery based on that supremely expert opinion?

What needs to happen is bipartisan cooperation (is that really a thing in the U.S.?????). People who cannot scan well should just put down the probe and walk away. Those who are new to ultrasound should not attempt to guess sex without first consulting someone else more experienced. Patients should not push to find out sex at the first positive sign on a pee stick nor should they pressure sonographers to guess NOR should they throw a fit when we refuse. And, last but most certainly not least, non-medical, non-necessary, thorn-in-my-side, bane-of-my-existence, menace-to-society-and-medical-communities-alike 3D cash cow businesses need a cease and desist from scamming the general public into believing they can actually provide a 100% guarantee on sex at 14wks. SO! If all the above happened, we would never have another incorrect fetal sex determination by ultrasound again. Unfortunately, there’s about as much chance as my waking up to a million bucks in my driveway. I think I’ll be going in to work tomorrow after all:/

And for those of you who have not yet seen them, check out the links below for my images of fetal sex which are textbook, classic, no-guesswork-needed images of both male and female sex:

Best wishes for a happy healthy baby!

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Posted on November 15th, 2015 by

These were such great fetal 3D images that I felt they should be reposted!  They are representative of the best of the best.

You’ll see from the captions that this baby was 33wks at the time of the scan. Just know this isn’t the norm! Most babies at this gestational age are not well seen with 3D because the head is typically pretty low at this point and fluid begins to diminish a bit. However, this mom had polyhydramnios (or extra amniotic fluid) and baby had his own Olympic-sized pool!  The additional fluid allowed better visualization of baby’s face which yielded these most beautiful pics!

In other words, Moms-to-be, the images you see below are an exception to the rule. The best time remains about 27-30wks. Enjoy! His mom and I sure had a fun time taking them:)


No paparazzi, please!

3D fetal face 33wks


Pucker up!

3D fetal face 33wks


Sleepy baby;) So sweet!

3D fetal face 33wks

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Posted on October 26th, 2015 by

As an addendum to the this last published post, I am adding annotated images of the the video in the link below:

9 week fetus

amnion at 9 weeks



(Published 10/25/2015)

Ever see a real-time video clip of a 9 week fetus? Of a fetal heartbeat?  Well, here you are!  Just click on my link below:

9 week fetal heartbeat

This clip demonstrates a quick video of baby with transvaginal imaging. First, we see the head, then we see a long view of baby’s body and the incredible flicker of cardiac activity in the chest. The fetal head lies to the left of your screen and the small circle near baby’s bottom represents the yolk sac.  Also, notice the thin white line around baby. This is the amnion or amniotic membrane. Looking carefully, one can make out the beginning of arm and leg buds.

It’s so cute already!

Can anyone guess what the black represents? Yep! Amniotic fluid. You guys are so smart.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll annotate all the parts for you. Have a great day!

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Posted on October 20th, 2015 by

I think most of you reading probably would believe that most of the emails I receive have to do with parents wanting me to confirm fetal sex..sometimes desperately so. And sometimes determining fetal sex is an impossible task.

I try to explain in my replies that my guess is only as good as the images they send me. I don’t believe it is quite understood what I mean when I say that ultrasound is entirely subjective but the person scanning has total control over the images obtained. The sonographer creates these images utilizing a number of controls to optimize the image and uses her own discretion to determine a good angle with the probe she is holding. Yes, there is a standard here but I have to brutally honest. Just as people excel in some areas of life and/or profession, some are also bad. There are good docs and bad, good nurses and bad, good cashiers and bad. That being said, there are sonographers who just do not do it well. This is a painfully obvious fact when I open these image attachments.

In addition, I sometimes use many angles, holding the probe in different places to obtain a different angle of the same area in order to determine sex. At times, just one angle is not enough to see well but only one angle can be depicted in one image at one time. I wasn’t there during your scan so I don’t know anything about the variables that could have made imaging difficult. One of my last posts on this subject can be read by clicking the links below:

I just know a technically bad image when I see one. Sometimes, I can tell there are measures that could have been taken to improve the image. In those cases, I can only assume your sonographer did not know how to use them or even that they existed. If the person scanning you is new to ultrasound or is a physician who isn’t trained on how to use the equipment fully (which they typically are not) the image may not appear optimal to someone who is experienced in sonography. Below are some great images of fetal sex that I’ve taken myself.

The above depicts an underside view of typical-appearing female parts from about 16-22wks. The side arrows point to labia, the middle to the clitoris.


Female labia in the 3rd trimester


Male genitalia, late 2nd trimester


Fetal male genitalia 3rd Tri

The above demonstrates a side view of typical appearing male parts from about 27wks on.


So, all that being said, if the image you send is not an optimal one, I may not be able to take a guess on fetal sex. Even if your sonographer felt she was sure of her guess, I may not be able to agree based on limitations of the image. That doesn’t mean your sonographer got it wrong, just that I cannot concur with the former guess because the image quality is not there and I didn’t observe the scan myself so I was unable to see from many different angles.

Below are the links I typically email on my posts regarding fetal sex:

I hope this helps you understand a little more insight from the sound perspective!

Ta-Ta for now! Until next time, feel free to reply, comment or email with your questions on the Ask Me tab up top or at! You can also subscribe to the right:)


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Posted on October 15th, 2015 by

I have been on vacation for the last six days but I have a few moments so I thought I would use it to post a couple of precious 3D images and remind my readers what it takes to obtain these great shots.

Not everyone makes a great candidate for this scan. Firstly, a great pocket of amniotic fluid in front of baby’s face and baby facing up toward mom’s belly are two very important variables. Also, the less abdominal fat a mother has will make for a better signal due to the principles of physics as outlined in the last post. Some factors that will hinder a 3D are maternal, some fetal as described below:

*a fetus facing mom’s back
*a fetus with the face burrowed into the placenta or uterine wall
*limbs or cord directly in front of the face
*an anterior placenta
*an overweight mother
*decreased amniotic fluid
*late gestational age
*a very low or engaged fetal head in the pelvis

If the limitations are positional, we can roll mom to one side or push around a little and sometimes this does help. However, many times baby is quite comfortable and has no desire to change position, even if it’s just an arm over the face. The farther along you are, the less likely baby will move position which is why 27-28wks is the best time for 3D. A much earlier scan makes baby look too skeletal because it doesn’t yet have enough body fat.

All the other factors are some we cannot alter. An anterior placenta and/or belly fat means the sound has to travel farther, the resulting image grainy or with an out-of-focus appearance. And too little fluid limits visualization overall. Even if baby has lots of fluid by the butt, very little in front of the face will still yield a limited 3D.

The above are just a few tidbits of useful info to keep in mind before scheduling your 3D entertainment scan. It can help you prepare for or spare you some disappointment if you don’t leave with the same amazing images your friend may have gotten.

If interested, ask your sonographer at your next diagnostic exam if you are a good candidate for a 3D! We cannot ever predict whether your baby will work with us so do inquire as to the facility’s policies in advance in case of a stubborn fetus! In the meantime, enjoy these below from a very cooperative little one indeed:)

3D ultrasound image


3D ultrasound image

As always, thanks for reading! Feel free to reply to this post or click the ASK ME tab up top. You can also subscribe to the right or email me any time at with your comments or questions!

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Posted on October 5th, 2015 by

I hope anyone who is searching intently about what is required to see fetal sex will take a minute to read this post and behave accordingly at her future ultrasound appointment. Sonographers the world over will thank me if it results in even one less patient who leaves her department foaming at the mouth.

Firstly, determining fetal sex is not part of a diagnostic examination. Period. It may be information the patient desires but nowhere in any ACOG publication is it written as a requirement. This examination is ordered to rule out structural fetal malformations only. It’s a courtesy most practices provide their patients IF it can be seen but is wholly left to the discrimination of the sonographer. This is because we see fetal sex with ultrasound way more often than your physician does and most docs will tell you we are far better at this guess. Also, OB docs are well aware there are a number of variables that prevent good visualization for each and every ultrasound we perform for them. Some of these factors are as follows:

a breech fetus
a fetus with the rear against the uterine wall
a foot or feet in the genital region or crossed feet
closed legs
the umbilical cord between the legs or against the fetal body
body habitus or an overweight patient
uterine fibroids or contraction
a decrease in amniotic fluid
genital malformations
early gestational age

Even one of the above factors can prevent even the most experienced sonographer from determining fetal sex. This is what you want. What you DON’T want is someone who is inexperienced guessing anyway. Many times, it’s not just one but several of the above variables that limit what we see and we can’t change any of them. We can push around a little or turn a patient on her side but that is it. And, no, jumping jacks won’t help.

Another little fact I’ll add here is that a non-arguable truth of the modality is the principle of physics that refers to the attenuation of sound. The farther sound has to travel, the weaker the returned signal. The more tissue the sound waves have to penetrate, the worse the image. In other words, the more a patient weighs, the less we can see a fetus. And the worse our visualization of a fetus, the less we can see of important structures much less very small ones like external genitalia. Combine that with some of the other variables listed above and the possibility that fetal sex will be determined for some people at 18-20wks is quite unlikely.

What we cannot do is scan a patient indefinitely in an effort to gain this information. We are on a timed schedule and we work like hell to stick to it. The next patient deserves to have her ultrasound as close to her appointment time as possible, barring an unforeseen medical complication. We are required to scan a patient for only as long as it takes to determine what anatomy we can or cannot document. We also require time prior to a scan to examine a chart for an order and indication for the exam. After the exam we need time to write the report. Most of us are nice enough to take more time with a patient if the schedule allows.

An entirely repulsive action disgruntled patients take these days is to post their rants on social media. This is never okay whether it be a personal beef or not. I would advise against this method of revenge only if one would not want to find a new physician or appear grossly ignorant. If you are unhappy, you have the right to discuss it with the administrative manager but keep in mind that negative press will cost the practice future patients and you run the very real risk of being fired by your doctor. Yes, a patient can be fired. A practice does not have to tolerate any behavior deemed irrational or unreasonable. Just like one can fire an attorney, a plumber or your doctor, a patient can find herself in the same situation.

Being a healthcare provider can be the most rewarding but also the most infuriating of experiences. Our patients who are thankful and appreciative remind us why we chose this profession to begin with while others make us want to throw down the vinyl gloves in submission of a different a Whole Foods stock girl. Artisan cheese doesn’t talk back or complain when fetal sex can’t be determined.

Unfortunately, our society has become one of immediate gratification, even demanding it in the face unreasonable and ridiculous circumstances like the spoiled brat, Veruca Salt, of Willy Wonka fame. It’s comical to me that these people expect better behavior from their children but, themselves, scream and cry in a public setting, ranting and raving like a lunatic. Or it rather reminds me of the kid who throws a tantrum and holds her breath until she faints because she wants the candy in the grocery store cashier line. In my professional and motherly opinion, both behaviors are well deserving of a spanking and time-out…or a good firing.

I hope patients who have shown their immature side in the past over this same scenario might read this and reevaluate the series of events that led them to exhibit such embarrassing, high school-like behaviors. We cannot walk on water, we cannot move mountains and we cannot see fetal sex on a patient who fits into the above categories. It’s not because we’re mean or didn’t scan long enough, try hard enough, didn’t care or are incompetent. I treat all my patients the same and I try to determine sex for all those who want to know. It’s just that I cannot change the laws of physics.

On more than a few occasions, some patients mistakenly assumed that if we cannot tell them fetal sex, we must not be able to skillfully perform an ultrasound examination otherwise. It’s usually these people who are guilty of the aforementioned bad behavior. I suppose it’s too good to be true that those same people who didn’t see anything wrong with their actions to begin with might also read this and figure out my post is all about them.

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Posted on September 30th, 2015 by

One of the highlights of parenthood for everyone is the day they hear the words “It’s a Girl!” or “It’s a Boy!”, no matter whether they are heard in the delivery room or the ultrasound room.  While no one ever invites news that something is not quite normal, it’s rarely expected that the problem will be with regard to fetal sex determination. I recently received just such an email about the subject of ambiguous fetal genitalia. Some of the technical information of the case has been omitted.

concerned mom:  I was just told by a doctor at the perinatal center that my baby’s genitals appear abnormal on my late 3rd trimester ultrasound. My only other scan was at 20 weeks and I was told “probably boy” but it took the tech a while to make that guess. I’m aware that there are a range of genital abnormalities that can occur so I asked my physician if she saw both male and female parts. She told me she thought it was a boy but admitted that it can be hard to distinguish labia from scrotum (because of the appearance of the presumed sac and questionable small penis). I was referred to get some genetic testing done but I sense the chromosomal info will still leave me with questions about the probable condition if there is a mismatch between genotype and phenotype.

I’ve gathered info on some of the more common genital abnormalities to try to come to overcome disappointment and find peace. I find myself wondering about this one doctor’s opinion and likelihood of accuracy. In your years of practice, do you find labia and scrotum difficult to distinguish towards the end of pregnancy? I realize you can not confirm or clarify the details of my particular situation but I’m still interested in your general thoughts.

Thank you for sharing your expertise.

wwavb:  Firstly, I will say that a perinatologist should be the most qualified physician to answer these questions for you. Her specialty being high-risk pregnancies qualifies her as the go-to for your general OB for all things presenting as unusual. Though it is one doctor’s opinion, it is a highly specialized one and she would be able to provide answers for you to a likely far greater degree than your general OB.

I can only speculate here, of course, but it sounds as though the perinatologist has questions, too, and ordered genetic testing to help clarify whether baby is genetically male vs female and to possibly rule out whether a chromosomal abnormality could explain the physical appearance of the genitalia. I imagine any information it yields could only help aid your physician in a diagnosis which can, in turn, aid you in the educational and emotional preparation of baby’s condition. I have to advise here to not consult “Dr. Google”, as we refer to the Internet in our office, because it only adds to your confusion and provides a whole spectrum of variables of potential diagnoses that do not apply to your case. I know it’s hard to wait but, truly, until you get genetic results, all of your time spent looking for answers can compound the problem in your mind and peace is the last thing you’ll find there…it typically only leads to more questions. The only time I find it’s good advice is if your doc has referred you to a specific site.

In my experience, gender typically becomes easier to distinguish as pregnancy progresses, fetal position providing. Your case, though not frequent, is the prime example for why we prudent sonographers do not throw out a random sex guess with a quasi peek. It’s why, also, I never guess prior to 18wks or any time if I cannot see well with respect to all the variables that can hinder that determination. Later on, the labia become more full and, sometimes, the clitoris remains visible. Testicles usually descend about 28wks which are typically easy to visualize, and though penis size does vary, it still is fairly easy to see in most babies.

Below are links for some of my normal-appearing male and female genitalia images at different times in pregnancy:

I hope my information hasn’t been entirely redundant and that I’ve helped in some small way. I wish you all the very best and, please, if you don’t mind, I would love a follow-up email once you have more answers.

Take care and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you in the future!



Ultrasound and other antenatal testing was created, first and foremost, as a vehicle to education, understanding and preparedness when our pregnancies become challenging with information and events we don’t understand.  There has been no better time than the present for medical advances and those with the ability to use and understand them to hold our hands and help us navigate through the roller coaster of emotions.  The goal in the end is the most healthy baby and educated parent(s) to care for him.  And although what results for medical professionals is education through experience, it’s ONLY the experience of treating such patients that creates the empathy to care for them.

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Posted on September 14th, 2015 by

Post-baby body is a very real reference to the tangible or perceived appearance of one’s body post-delivery.  Anyone who has ever carried a child and delivered that sweet little, or big, bundle of joy knows what this means.  Some women eat very carefully during their pregnancies, are fit to begin with and have no problem getting back to their (somewhat) original bod.  Some let it all go, eat whatever they want, gain a lot of weight and then either keep the weight or have a hard time getting it off after baby.  Either way, there are usually some subtle post-baby changes to our bodies after we spit out our pups..cute as they may be.  But these changes don’t have to be drastic or permanent!

I wanted to share a quick story about a patient I saw last week.  She’s the pregnant woman people envy.  You know the kind..beautiful anyway with long gorgeous hair, flawless skin, crystal blue eyes and a big toothy smile like a hammock between two big dimples.  And, no, she didn’t need a lick of make-up.  No hating here!  She was one of my sweetest and most fun patients whom we scanned more than routinely since she was carrying twins.  Not only did she look amazing during the pregnancy but when she stopped in for a doc visit at six weeks postpartum, I was amazed at how great she looked.  I would have never believed she carried these babies almost to term if I didn’t see it myself!  She looked incredible and I was super happy for her.

Please note this isn’t being shared to make anyone feel bad about themselves.  Conversely, I want it to be incentive for every pregnant woman out there that life can return to normal after Baby!  ..That is, unless daily trips to Marble Slab become as routine as those to the restroom!

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Posted on August 17th, 2015 by

You know, I just don’t have all the answers. I know you may not be terribly shocked by this revelation. That being said, I get emails all the time with partial tidbits of relative info from which I am supposed to glean an opinion or diagnosis. Sometimes, it’s just not enough to read between the lines, especially with regard to early pregnancy questions. See the emails below to understand my conundrum..

vague mama:  Hi My name is _______.
Here’s my ultrasound.
Thank you in advance.~

The subject of this email read 12w6d ultrasound. Attached were a few crazy bright, quasi fetal bottom view images. Great ultrasound imaging can only be taught. Truly. I can only assume this person was curious about gender but how am I supposed to really know this is the question if it’s not asked?

twin mama:  Wow! So glad I found you. Can you please help with my twin ultrasound? We are confident that baby B is a BOY! However baby A is leaving us confused, we were told possibly boy as well, all guesses on other sites say girl. Just so confused. Thank you in advance for your help. Sincerely..~

So, clearly, this one questions gender, however, no gestational age is included so I have to guess based on how big the baby looks in the image. If you guys know me by now, I DO NOT guess gender before 17-18wks and if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve read a hundred posts on why that is!

Too early = too much guesswork = an ^ in the % of complete wrongness.

This is my professional and VERY scientific formula on how to incorrectly determine fetal gender. Turns out these babies were 14w4d. In other words, you may as well flip a coin. You have the same degree of accuracy and it’s free.  There’s not much worse than paying someone to be wrong, right?!

concerned mama: I just have a couple questions I’m hoping you wouldn’t mind helping me with. I just had my first ultrasound abdominally and also had the internal, as well, for dating. I have a very irregular period so I don’t know my LMP. I had gotten lab work done the day before the ultrasound to check my hcg levels. The nurse said they were pretty up there but not yet 14 weeks. During my tests, my sonographer would not give me any info. I understand they formally cannot give an official diagnosis but she wouldn’t even show me the screen. Is it normal that they don’t give you a picture, either? If you could try and answer these questions the best you can, I would greatly appreciate it:) Thank you so much! ~

So, a layperson may not understand the difficulty here but what am I supposed to answer for this reader? With no images, no measurements, no LMP..virtually no concrete information..I cannot tell her anything she doesn’t already know about her case, which is almost nothing. I am not sure she even saw a heartbeat but without that being stated I can assume nothing. The only opinion I can state here is that it is entirely WRONG that her provider provided no information for this patient (not much of a “provider” in my book) and made her wait an entire weekend for some answers. I am a provider, too, but I answer to a physician. The physician, PA or nurse could have informed this patient about what was seen on the scan, even if they couldn’t yet predict if it would be a good pregnancy.

So, there you are, example of some of my emails! Sometimes I can’t help you very much but I always try!

Before I close out, feel free to check out the great ads to your right! I have vowed to only advertise good or services that you mamas-to-be might find useful or that I wished I might have had eons ago when I was birthin’ and raisin’ babies!

‘Til next time, wishing you a happy, healthy sonogram;)



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Posted on August 2nd, 2015 by

One of the greatest events in the first trimester, next to the pee stick plus sign, is seeing Baby and the little flutter of cardiac activity for the very first time.  One of the worst events is not seeing it at all.  A blighted ovum is where the gestational sac of a pregnancy develops but not a baby.  You still get the positive test, hormones and symptoms of pregnancy, but only a sac with no embryo or yolk sac develops.  The whole scenario, naturally, makes for a very anxious mom-to-be the next go-around.

The image below is an example of what a blighted ovum might look like:

blighted ovum


Read below an email I received from one such anxious mama.

nervous nellie:  I had a blighted ovum a couple months ago, so I’m very nervous about my new pregnancy miscarrying.

I’m 5 weeks 5 days and had my first ultrasound today. We saw a healthy yolk sac and a heartbeat (couldn’t hear it though), but the gestational sac was oblong. I know an ideal sac is perfectly round, but I don’t know how normal it is to see an oblong sac. Given everything else was normal (CRL: .25 cm) I want to hope for the best.

This puts us at 5 weeks 2 days. Is this anything to worry about?

wwavb:  This sac is beautiful!!! Congratulations on your pregnancy! These are all good things..a good sac, the presence of a yolk sac and an embryo with a heartbeat. Did they give you a heart rate? Not hearing it only means they did not use the Doppler feature which allows the sound. This should not be a concern.

And, no, the sac does NOT have to be a perfect circle! I see oblong gestational sacs all the time and it is strong walls that are most important. If you look at the longest measurement of the sac, it measures 1.6cm. If you add 4 to this number, you get 5.6, right? This is another way to calculate gestational age by a sac measurement. So, to me in this image, I would say the sac size is consistent with a 5w6d pregnancy. And once an embryo and heartbeat are seen, gestational age should be calculated by embryo size instead. This is because sac size can vary quite a bit and is not as reliable for dating. Very early, though, it’s all we have! Typically, a heartbeat is seen at about 6wks, not 5, so their measurement could have been off a little.

I know it’s very hard to face another pregnancy after a loss. It takes lots of courage! I hope these posts below help. When it doesn’t progress so early on, usually there was something very wrong from the beginning but it in no way means this one won’t be great!

I wish you the best for a happy and healthy pregnancy! Try to enjoy it!  Thanks for reading and emailing. I hope I helped a little;)


nervous nellie:  You are such a wonderful help! THANK YOU for responding and thank you for having this ability to check on little concerns. I can’t tell you how much you have put my mind at ease in these early weeks. You really are a blessing!

wwavb:  You are so welcome!  You know, I have to say that no one is out of the woods until that 1st trimester is done..12wks. The farther along you get with Baby growing normally and a good heart rate, the greater your chances of miscarrying decrease. If a demise happens after that point, you know something was very wrong with the pregnancy. At this point, however, there’s no reason to have any less hope than anyone else!!

Best wishes!!!


No one can ever predict the outcome of a pregnancy unless we see very definitive signs early on.  A blighted ovum is one of those we know will not progress beyond a certain point.  However, like I said in my email to this reader, it in no way defines the outcome of future pregnancies!

Best wishes to all you for happy and healthy babies!!

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Posted on July 22nd, 2015 by

First of all, I’d like to welcome my first two advertisers!  Us moms can never have enough access to products and services that make our lives easier.  So, check them out just to the right of this post.  You’re welcome!

Moms, friends of moms and family of moms-to-be..The Corner Stork has some of THE most precious baby shower ideas and gifts EVER!  Where was all this cute stuff when I was pushing out my little pumpkins?  They seriously make me want to run out and throw someone a party.

And for all you moms with little ones in tow already, Zoobooks is educational fun if your kids are fascinated with animals!  What kids aren’t?  These make great gifts, too, so if you’re in need of something for the fifth birthday celebration your child has received this month, check it out!  Our next generation of leaders is bound to soak up more useful facts and trivia here than that from a particular sponge I know.

Onward to my post of the day..

I read something a little disturbing whilst surfing this universal web of ours called the internet.  I don’t often search anything ultrasound related unless it is a medical reference for the purpose of supporting the diagnosis of a case.  I have been told, however, that if I want to increase my visibility of this blog, I must submit my two cents on other sites and provide a link.  It’s very disturbing.  Where do I start??!  There’s so much misinformation out there and it’s very distressing to know people are believing everything they read or are misguided in some way themselves.

Someone wrote essentially a one-liner about her miscarriage.  She stated that she will absolutely never have another transvaginal ultrasound in pregnancy because the one time she allowed it, her baby died the next day.  I was so saddened by this statement.  I attempted to reach out to her with a direct email but it wasn’t possible.  I hope someday, in some small, remote and very unlikely way, she may stumble across this post.

ALL OB PATIENTS!!  Please know that scanning with an internal ultrasound probe in no way, shape or form causes miscarriage or fetal demise.  If this were the case, we would not be allowed to perform the examination! Our docs are in the business of helping you carry a healthy pregnancy and, hopefully, to term.  Transvaginal sonography is the best addition to sonography for early obstetric care and gynecologic studies.  It provides so much useful information for your physician that just cannot be seen with transabdominal scanning.

It helps us find your Baby’s heartbeat and determine gestational age early in the first trimester. It helps affirm for your doctor that your pregnancy is progressing normally or whether it is threatened because of bleeding or a shortened cervix.

Most of you know that your OB/GYN doc has your best interest at heart.  It’s unfortunate and sad that the coincidence of this tragic event happened after her examination..but it was not the cause.  I want you all to understand that having this exam done is what can help your doctor SAVE your pregnancy.  The goal is happy, healthy, full-term babies!  Sometimes we can help you achieve this; sometimes we can’t.  Either way, transvaginal ultrasound likely played an instrumental role in  providing your physician with much-needed and highly valuable information.

If the medical community feels it is safe enough for ourselves and our own families, we certainly want to provide you with the same quality care!

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Posted on July 17th, 2015 by

Every once in a while we have a patient who desperately wants to pin down the EXACT day she conceived so she can determine the father of her baby.  Ultrasound can give you a general time-frame within a few days of reliability early in the first trimester (about 8-10wks gestational age) but it cannot be specific to the day.  Moreover, ultrasound measurements become less accurate the farther along in the pregnancy you are.  Someone who shows up for dating at 23wks, for example, will get an estimate or “best educational guess” for a due date.  Determining paternity by ultrasound is not “cut and dried”.

Some would like us to pin it to the hour.  Sorry, ladies, you are SOL if you find yourself in this boat.  Only DNA testing after Baby is born will help you in this case.  Literally, a young girl in college be-bops into the practice one day hoping we could differentiate within one week between three possible candidates.  Really?  She was very cavalier about her dire straights but what threw me more was that her mother, who was with her, thought it was just as funny.  Personally, I have to say I’d be mortified if it were me and even more so if it was my daughter.  I’m not being judgmental here; I just think it’s a serious matter and not a laughing one. Being a little more selective in this department than this girl, both women AND men, would not be a bad thing!

The first thing your doctor will ask is when your LMP or last menstrual period started.  Most people ovulate between days 10 and 14 but some people have very short cycles and others have longer ones so the actual day the egg is released is quite variable.  Some people experience very irregular periods, oftentimes skipping several months at a time, which is totally unreliable for dating, unless you know exactly the dates you had sex.  Moreover, semen can live for a few days within the vagina (don’t quote me and I’m sure this is an exact science in some literature but I am not an expert in the life cycle of sperm) so it would be hard to pinpoint the exact day of conception.

Getting a good dating scan in the first trimester by someone who is experienced in determining the best measurement is the next order of business, providing Baby is easy to see. I personally feel a transvaginal ultrasound at 8-10wks is the best time to obtain a CRL (crown-rump length, measurement from head to butt) because Baby is not too small or big.  A 6wk pregnancy where the embryo measures a whopping 3mm can be very difficult to see well.  At 12wks the fetus is fully formed and very active which can make obtaining a good measurement challenging.

See the images below to see the difference in a CRL at 6wks, 8wks and 11wks!

6wk embryo

6wk embryo

Baby is so small here that it can be hard to see in some patients depending on how it is positioned!


8wk fetus

8wk fetus

This is the best dating here! Baby is usually pretty easy to see now at about 1/2 inch.  This measurement is accurate within 1-2 days.


11wk fetus

11wk fetus

Dating is still fairly accurate here within about 3-5days.  They move a lot and bend and one can imagine that a bigger measurement will yield a baby a little farther along if he/she is stretched out vs curled in a little ball.


I get it; things happen.  People who are in a serious relationship break up.  They see someone else during the pause..rebound, shoulder to cry on, etc., and then reconnect.  This can be a wonderful reunion! But it can still make for a bit of a hairy situation if these encounters happened within 2wks of one another.

On a final note, imagine yourself in this situation.. You’re pregnant with twins.  You’re in the throes of labor.  Out pops your first baby.  Joy! Success! Beautiful!  Baby B is right behind.  Big push!  He’s out!  Oh.  Wait a minute.  One is black; one is white.  Yes, this definitely happened.  Lucy, you have some ‘splaining to do.

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Posted on June 28th, 2015 by

Today’s post is an extension of the last, expounding a little more on the technical details of the transvaginal ultrasound.  As I mentioned previously, this approach to the pelvic organs has been the most impressive addition to the modality and the best way to image these organs.

There is no prep for this exam unlike the dreaded filling of the bladder for the abdominal approach.  Moreover, an empty bladder is required since too much urine will cause the bladder to push the uterus too far back, yielding a limited image.

The exam typically takes me about 10-15 minutes in a normal exam.  Everyone’s organs are positioned a little differently so a challenging angle or needing to document a lot of pathology can certainly cause your exam to run longer.  The uterus tilted backwards, the ovaries too high in the pelvis and intestines in the wrong place all make for a difficult or limited examination.  The intestines, or bowel loops, contain air and gas through which sound waves cannot penetrate.  Therefore, bowel sitting on top of your ovary can obscure the view altogether.  Oftentimes I can push around a little to obtain a better view or I’ll look abdominally anyway in an effort to see something, anything I couldn’t internally.  If your uterus is REALLY large (as in the case of large fibroids), I’m going to scan you abdominally anyway.

We measure the uterus and ovaries and document any pathology we see.  Uterine fibroids (a very common tumor of the uterine muscle, endometrial polyps (like a skin tag in the lining of your uterus), ovarian cysts or masses and fluid in the fallopian tubes are just some of the processes we see on a regular basis.  The exams are typically ordered by your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain or pressure, if something is felt on your pelvic exam or if you describe any myriad of problems with your period.  There are volumes of other reasons to perform this exam but the above are some of the most common.  A regular misperception I have found with the general public is they don’t realize ovarian cysts can be functional..meaning this is what the ovary does normally every month when we ovulate.  A cyst forms, ruptures, the egg is released..voila!  Ovulation.  So many come in exclaiming ovarian cysts like they have a disease.  More often than not, it’s just a normal finding.

There are no side effects of the exam and it shouldn’t hurt.  Sometimes, if you come in with pelvic pain already, the exam may feel a little uncomfortable.  Most people complain of pressure on the bladder.  If it’s painful, let your sonographer know!  Sometimes “newbies” push too hard, unbeknownst to them.

When my patients come in stressed out about the exam, fearful because it hurt the last time they had one done or exhibit a little trepidation, I always try to lighten the mood with the same line.  “No, worries.. I just have to find your ovaries, not your tonsils!”  I always get a laugh and a thank you out of that;)

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Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by

Transvaginal ultrasound was developed somewhere in the 1980s and, in my opinion, is THE best contribution to ultrasound, bar none.  It gives us a high resolution image because the probe lies closer to the organs and utilizes a higher frequency than with abdominal probes.  But, women, do you really need company to have this done?

Case in point.  A young patient comes into the office with an entourage.  I seriously had to check my memory twice, reminding myself that she wasn’t there for an OB appointment.  With her was Mom, Child and Boyfriend and Mom insisted on coming in for the exam along with the child.  Of course, I could care less as long as the patient wants them in there.  I have to ask all the same questions regardless of who else is in the room.  If you don’t want someone hearing all your personal GYN business, you better have them wait outside.  This wasn’t the case here on this day but, nonetheless, no truer statement has ever been spoken…well, typed, that is.

About 80% of the time, I get the same reaction.  I say the word “transvaginal” and I see people’s eyes get as big as dinner plates.  I realize the hesitation on several points.  If you’ve never heard of it, if you’ve never had one done or if you’ve never been to the GYN doc, I condone “the look”.  However, if not, I sometimes want to just tell women to get over it.  Come on now.  You’re sexually active, you’re in your 20’s or older and you may have even already had a child.  It’s not your first rodeo in stirrups but the transvaginal ultrasound just put you into a tailspin.  It’s an altogether different scenario if someone has had no sexual experience (and I don’t mean virginal by today’s standards) or if a patient has had a bad personal experience in the past which has left them emotionally scarred.  Usually, I know about these well in advance and we plan around them by having the patient fill her bladder or by simply explaining the exams and allowing her the choice if she is old enough to make one, of course.

It’s almost always awkward for the patient (though never for me) and having someone with her is most certainly recommended if she is at all anxious about the exam or results.  The most strange of these situations, however, is when she wants the husband or BF to come in for the exam when he has NO desire whatsoever to be there!  What the heck, Lady?  Do you drag him in for your Pap, too?

In my opinion, guys should be left at home unless you’re there for new-addition-to-the-fam care.  Otherwise, if none of the exceptions above apply, put on your big girl panties and treat yourself to some Haagen Dazs afterward.  Isn’t that the sole purpose for ice cream anyway?  I think it would make for an interesting new ad campaign.  Ice cream..the perfect post-stirrup consolation prize!  ..I’ll have to send that one in..

Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll expound on the details of having this exam done with some fancy shmancy pics, as well.  Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Posted on June 14th, 2015 by

For as long as the medical community has been utilizing sonography for OB purposes, so have there existed some on the operating end of the probe who have guessed the wrong sex.  This has created many a “Doubting Thomas” and “Negative Nancy” over the decades-old practice of the field.  Everyone knows someone who “used to be” the opposite gender before birth.  A lot of patients now just do not believe what they can’t see..or can’t read.  Here we’ll discuss all the many variables that contribute to not being able to determine gender vs incorrect fetal gender with ultrasound.

Fueling the justified fire is the unfortunate circumstance of unsuspecting parents everywhere who buy an entire wardrobe of monogrammed dresses only for Junior to pop out or Henry becomes Henrietta.  Most patients just do not really understand what it means when I say that ultrasound is entirely subjective.  Most lay people have no idea just how much this is true.  Honestly, most sonographers-to-be do not understand this, either, until they begin to practice it.  So, in an effort to not write volumes here, I’ll just say that if a sonographer is new to ultrasound, new to OB ultrasound or just not very good at determining gender, mistakes will be made. Parts look different between every baby, at different gestational ages and at differing angles.  First and foremost, it takes time and experience to be able to discern gender well.

Secondly, one factor which will most always result in not being able to see a great potty shot is Baby’s position.  If the fetus is breech (butt down), we don’t have a lot of room to work with here.  The uterus is like an upside down pear, right? There would be more room to work with if the butt was at the top of the pear than the bottom.  If the cord is running between the legs, parts can be obscured.  Sometimes a foot or hand is in the way.  At times, the rear is pushed up against the uterine wall or the legs are closed.  We can poke and prod all day long but there is nothing more we can do to force Baby to move into a better position.  And, no, jumping jacks won’t help.

Mom’s size is also a limitation.  It is a simple rule of ultrasound physics that the more tissue the sound waves have to travel through, the more unclear the image will be.  The more belly fat one has, the more fuzzy the image will appear.  A lack of resolution will always create a more difficult image to read.

Other factors include having an adequate amount of amniotic fluid around Baby (fluid helps us see better) and a gestational age over 18 weeks which is preferable.  Too early and parts are just too small, especially when boys and girls start out looking the same around 12-13wks. I don’t care what ANYONE advertises!  NO ONE can guarantee gender.  Sure, you might get your money back but that won’t pay for the new nursery or make up for the emotional transition.

All of the above make a difference in how well we can determine fetal sex for the parent.  One of these factors coming into play can make this task super difficult but seeing more than one or all of them and the job becomes impossible.  Ultimately, however, even the best of views doesn’t matter a hill of beans if the sonographer doesn’t know the difference.  At the end of the day, if the sonographer is too inexperienced or simply jumps the gun, you’ll be repainting that room!

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Posted on June 6th, 2015 by

Patients, in general, tend to believe that determining male gender should be very easy any time and the only way to determine Team Pink is the lack of male parts.  Wrong!  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 12wks. And, no, a uterus and ovaries cannot be seen normally anytime in pregnancy as they are simply too small and gender can only be determined by examining external genitalia.


On occasion, an ovarian cyst can be diagnosed on fetal ultrasound but is only a guess as these organs are just too tiny to know for sure.

See below for good female gender images!

This image is of a baby girl at about 16wks.  Here, a bottom is seen but not really the legs..imagine Baby is pulling her feet up to her nose. If you are looking up from underneath, 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!

This image is around the 16wk age, 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.

This baby is about 32wks!  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.

Next time, I’ll discuss all the things that make determining gender impossible!

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Posted on May 30th, 2015 by

How many times has a sonographer pointed out gender to all you readers out there during your sonogram and you respond back with a “Huh, where?”  Even male gender on ultrasound can be difficult to discern if other parts are in the way.

Check out this recent email from a mom who had the same problem:

confused mama:  Hello! I just recently went in for a gender ultrasound which I was so excited to finally get. I had an uncomfortable experience with the ultrasound technician. The second she saw the baby she said I am 100% it is a boy. She didn’t show me, my mom, or my mother in law the penis or scrotum and she didn’t explain at all. I was 19 weeks and 2 days at the time of this ultrasound. I might be in denial it is a boy but I honestly am confused by the photo she gave that shows the penis and scrotum. I am confused because there are two lines underneath it but in all the boy ultrasounds I have seen, the penis and scrotum look more defined and those two lines aren’t there. It might be the butt, I’m thinking, but I don’t know. Can you please give your professional opinion? I had a friend who is also a RDMS and she said she could not tell the gender. I am debating if I should do another gender ultrasound. Please help (:

outside image

wwavb:  Okay, so check out the image below..


You are seeing an underneath view of Baby.  Encircled in yellow is the cord which is running between Baby’s legs and obscuring parts a little.  You should be able to see boy parts a little better with my annotations.

I wouldn’t go for another, especially if it’s one of those ultrasound drive-thru cash cows.  Does your friend not do OB/GYN?  I felt it was pretty easy to tell, but I would have either not given this image to a patient or otherwise explained the parts.

Glad I could help!


I think some sonographers forget that not everyone can figure this stuff out as easily as we can.  Even if you are an experienced certified sonographer but not in OB, it can still be quite a guess for you, too.  After all, experience is the teacher, right?  Experience is also the teacher eventually for ANY sonographer who is dumb enough to call anything between the legs 100%.  Sorry!  You know I’m right, medical community!

Switching gears a little, I’ll be quite frank here.  It gets to be pretty exhausting sometimes when those of us in diagnostic ultrasound have a fetal medical exam to do and the only thing the visitors can do is squawk on and on about what the baby is, who has bets on what and when in the world I am going to get to the “good” if the brain and heart are not “good” enough.  It’s frustrating, to say the least.

But when ALL you do for a living is scan people for the heck of it with no real diagnostic merit attached, there is no excuse.  If you work for a 3D turnstile, you have all the time in the world to play, to have a little fun and to crack a few jokes.  Your ONLY job is make the doggone thing enjoyable for all who pay to be there!  If that is too difficult for you, try mixing the entertainment factor with the medical one and see how much fun you have doing that.

As sonographers, if we’re going to take a penis pic, we should at least narrate for our patients if Baby is feeling a little shy that day.  And patients, if you can’t tell a penis from a big toe, speak up!  When you pay for a 3D scan, you have the right to see it when you want and how you want; you paid for it!

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Posted on May 23rd, 2015 by

You’re almost out of the woods! ..of the first trimester, that is.  Your baby is now just shy of two whole inches in length from head to bottom.  The 11 week fetus is looking more and more like a baby instead of a blob and, in real-time imaging, watching baby flop around like a little fish out of water always creates a chuckle for us spectators.

Transvaginal ultrasound is still usually the preferred method of scanning as it gives us the best resolution but we can adequately measure what we need with the abdominal approach in a thin patient.  Arms and legs are almost fully developed.  Baby’s head still looks bigger than its body but there is a lot of brain still growing in there!

In the image below, you’ll see the crown-rump length (CRL) measuring Baby from head to butt, a tiny little foot which is about 1/2 inch long and tiny pair of legs and feet.  So cute!


11 week fetus


Hit me up if you have any questions about the 11 week fetus or anything ultrasound-related at my email address,, or by clicking the Ask Me page above.  You can also find me on Twitter, @wombwaviewblog.  Follow me!

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Posted on May 12th, 2015 by

I want to take a little departure from 1st Trimester ultrasound to share the following email from a reader.  I’m sure many of you have received questionable images in the past.  Have you, too, shared this mom’s concern?  When reading my reply, take a moment to really try and visualize my explanation of how we obtain a good fetal profile!

nervous mama:  Hi, can you please help me?! At 37 and 39 weeks I had ultrasounds done and the profile looks so bizarre to me that I am nervous something is wrong. I have asked the sonographer and physician and they don’t see anything wrong with them. However, I can not find anything remotely similar on the internet. Can you please explain what I am looking at? The nose looks odd shaped and I cannot make out any other features such as the lips and chin. Please email me back before I give birth on Wednesday of next week.

fetal face images emailed to me

fetal face images emailed to me

Thank you!

wwavb:  Hi! Thanks for reading and emailing.  I’m sorry these images have you so worried!  These are good questions and I’ll share them with others in a future post.

Firstly, I need you to understand that because I only have limited information from these images and because I didn’t personally scan you, all I can give you here is limited information about what I see.  That being said, the profile in the top image is not a good one simply because of positioning.  Baby’s face is plastered against what looks like the placenta (they love to do this, by the way).  Because of this, there is no amniotic fluid between the placenta and the face, which is what is needed in order to define the outline of the face.  It’s the same principle in 3D imaging.  No fluid in front of the face, no image.  I never give images like this to patients..they don’t look like anything a patient (or anyone else) can discern and you would have been better off if she had simply given you feet or hands or the butt instead.  When I see babies in this position, I tell Mom that I just can’t see Baby’s face well to obtain a good image and I show them why.

You can see the difference in the second image.  Here, there is just a bit of fluid (the black) in front of the face.  The other thing that makes a great profile is actually obtaining one, which the sonographer did not do here.  This is not a “perfect” profile image, per se’.  Imagine taking a marker and drawing a line right down the center of your face starting at your hairline and on down between your eyes, bridge of the nose, tip of the nose, center of the lips and chin. This is a perfect profile and this is where the sound beam has to hit to obtain that view.  Now imagine drawing another line starting at the same place but this time you draw your line at a slightly different angle.  Imagine taking a ruler and holding one edge at the starting point in the middle of your forehead at the scalp and placing the bottom edge at your chin about an inch from the center.  If you drew another line to connect those ends, the line falls differently, right?  It might start in the middle of your forehead but then travels at an angle down your nose, cuts through a nostril, the side of your lip and part of your chin, right?  You should also be able to imagine now how that cut would look differently from the side than a perfect profile. It looks different because it is taken at a different angle.  I know this because the nasal bone is not in the image and I can see part of the nostril.  This may also be why the lips and chin look slightly different.  You won’t find anything online about it because everyone’s babies look as different at term on ultrasound as they do in real life.

ALL THAT being said, only your doctor can give you peace about this.  If you trust him and if he trusts his sonographer and if the sonographer is very experienced in OB and if they both feel a good look was had, all you can do is trust that all is okay!  If you can’t let it go, talk to your doc about it.  Perhaps, if they have 3D capabilities, maybe his technologist can do a quick sweep to show the front of the face and perhaps ease your fears.  Just remember you are quite far along so don’t be surprised if they cannot obtain a good face shot now.  If Baby is using the placenta as a pillow again, no chance.

At the end of the day, a perfect angle with great position and good fluid are the only things that help create a great image..well, that and a sonographer who is a stickler for detail AND a perfectionist! (like Yours Truly) Try to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and focus on being ready for Baby.

I hope I helped a little and I wish you many blessings for a healthy baby, labor and delivery!

This reader emailed me after she delivered saying Baby was unusual features or facial abnormalities. Thank goodness!  See below for my personal images of a great profile.

profile1jpeg profile2jpeg profile3jpeg

They say a photograph speaks a thousand words. This can be especially true in ultrasound. The images either say nothing or everything of which a new mom-to-be worries. Sonographers: don’t throw out a half-ass image thinking your patient won’t notice. Sometimes they don’t. We sonographers all know sometimes good images are impossible for many reasons. So, explain why a good profile is not achievable and just don’t take the shot. But when images CAN be good and they’re not because you didn’t take the time to make them that way, stop and think a second. Would you rather provide an image a patient will cherish her whole life or one that will cause her to lose sleep?

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Posted on May 10th, 2015 by


My blog is nothing without paying homage to the celebration of life and the incredible women who help to create it!  Thank you for reading and subscribing and I sincerely hope you all enjoy a wonderful day surrounded by your family.  Hopefully, they brought you breakfast in bed and are obeying every command with the tinkle of your handy-dandy little bell (or foghorn, whichever your prefer).  Contrarily, but no less enjoyable, maybe you’ve opted for the fam to disappear, leaving you to delve into your favorite book or hobby for a day without stinky diapers, PB&Js or laundry…or fighting!

Last week I included a 3D image of a 9 week fetus as shown below.

9wk fetus in 3D

You can see little arm buds and leg buds getting bigger.  What looks like a tiny lump on the top of the belly is just part of the cord.

Below is a 2D image of a 9wk fetus:

9wk fetus in 2D

Baby is upside down here and you can see from the dimension taken that it is measuring just about a whole inch now!

I don’t think it’s too much to ask to spend one day a year sans the multiple hats that come with motherhood..chef, chauffeur, maid, teacher, referee (for those of you blessed with more than one little angel). It’s the most difficult, most enjoyable and most important title any woman will ever hold.  Shaping and molding our future generation of leaders is no small task!

To carry them, raise them, care for them, discipline them and love them defines us as Mothers.  Any woman who puts her all into this job deserves to spend this day any way she pleases!  Enjoy it!

And for those first time moms-to-be..relish the peace and quiet now while you still can;)


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Posted on May 3rd, 2015 by

Hello!  I apologize for my lengthy absence.  Don’t you hate when life gets in the way of the things you want to do?!  So let’s pick up where we left off..the 8 week fetus.

In the last post I included 2D or two-dimensional images of the 8wk fetus.  Today, I’ll include a 3D image at about the same age so you can appreciate the difference between the two as shown below.

2D 8wk Fetus

8 week fetus


3D 9wk Fetus

9 week fetus

The 3D image looks more like a baby, right?  This is why two-dimensional images are hard for people to read and understand.  It’s just a slice-thickness of the fetus (or whatever we are imaging at the time) and we have to form a mental image of what we are seeing by moving the probe around. It took us a while to learn how to do this which is why it is so hard for you to understand the first time (or 10th time you see it!).

I’ll take you through the first trimester in the next few posts and then we’ll start to get into lots of emails I’ve received over the past month that may very well interest you!

Take care until next time..and I promise it will not be another month.  Thanks for hanging in there!

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Posted on April 4th, 2015 by

Six days later and I can finally say I am feeling quasi-normal again.  I’m going to take a slight departure from the regular 1st trimester fun tonight to address the probable cause of my untimely illness.  Tis the season for allergies and the all-too-common stomach bug that loves to wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal systems of the entirely innocent.

Just such a germ crawled up from the depths of hell and finagled its way past obsessive hand-washing to make me wish for death.  Lo, I never did see a light.  Actually, it wasn’t Heaven but the ER where I found myself and it wasn’t death that I was begging for but IV Phenergan, instead.  I was the victim of the most horrendous and uncontrollable volcanic explosions of bodily fluids one can imagine.  It was like something out of a 70’s horror flick combined with that infamous toilet scene in Dumb and Dumber.  In retrospect, the mental picture is a bit comical, yeah? Of course, such bugs do not care about the timing of these ghastly events but I would have preferred to be within the comfort of my own home, face to my own bathroom floor (thank you very much) instead of that of a hotel while out-of-state for a family gathering!  Oh, yes.  I spent the following 24 hours at my sister’s house, taking over her uber-comfy king-sized bed (my ANGEL of mercy!).

Now, where could I have picked up this pesky little bug.  Hmmm..  S a t a n??  While believable, my thoughts do wander to the ridiculous number of people with noses running like faucets, coughs akin to TB infection and other flu-like symptoms who come in to the OB/GYN office every single day!  OR they bring their snotty, sneezy, febrile children in with them to so generously help spread this infection to the legions of already-ailing pregnant women we see on a daily basis.  Who thinks this is ok?  I’ve actually had patients wheel their sick kids into my room and say “I’m sorry I had to bring him with me today but he is sick and had to stay home from daycare”.  So….WHY IS HE HERE???!  This is what I’d like to shout.  What she was really saying was that she was really looking forward to her ultrasound that day and didn’t want to miss it.  Contrarily, I have to instead ask if he has a fever and then politely ask them to get the hell out of the office and reschedule for a day when no one is in need of antibiotics.  Or an emesis bucket (that means vomiting for you non-medical personnel out there). Another patient stated she thought she had the flu..after sitting in the waiting area for 45 minutes..around scores of other pregnant women..sharing the same air..AND her doctor was pregnant at the time, as well.  What was she thinking??

I do think the general public has the misperception that we, as healthcare providers, are immune to illness.  Tell that to my colon.  We are not a hospital or an urgent care facility and we are not your primary care or family doc.  People who do not use common sense in these situations put all staff and every other patient in that waiting area at risk when they could have simply rescheduled their appointment.  Sure, it may be inconvenient but such is life.  Is it really fair to expose masses of otherwise healthy patients because someone doesn’t want to miss her ultrasound or reschedule a doctor’s visit?  This is all about limiting exposure and reducing risk.  If everyone practiced such and just stayed home when ill, we’d have a much more healthy society.  The flu is no one’s friend but pregnancy and the flu are simply not a winning combination, especially when an expectant mom is so limited in the meds she can take anyway.

Let’s be real here, people, NO ONE enjoys violent diarrhea or projectile vomiting.  Honestly, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and hope I never in my life have to feel it again.  If you ever do, however, I hope you have a great sister who takes care of you like mine!  But I’m not sharing so get your own awesome little sibling!  Even though my sweet bro-in-law didn’t have a choice, he was such a good sport about being kicked out of his own bed.  Thanks, J!  Fortunately, the series of unfortunate events played out well after the family feast.  We enjoyed so much great food!  Too bad I had to see it again later.  I can promise you right here and now, there is one species of seafood that will never pass these lips again. The rest of the weekend and quality fam time was lost to sleep and nausea.  So..could I have contracted my little nemesis from the gas pump or keypad at any store register despite my prolific post-use of antibacterial gel?  Sure.  But it’s more fun to blame snot-nosed kids. I can say this because I raised two of them myself;)

I love you, Sis!!  A case of Lysol is on the way to replenish your stash.  Man, I owe you BIG for that one.  I guess the old adage really is true..blood is thicker than vomit.

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Posted on March 26th, 2015 by

In the last post, two babies were finally seen, both measuring about the same at 6wks with great cardiac activity!  So let’s check out a few changes. The image below is of embryos at 7wks.

7 week embryos

You don’t really need a measurement here to see how much bigger they look compared to just one week prior!  You’ll notice that the gestational sacs are bigger, too, and yolk sacs keep the same general size and appearance although they are not pictured here.


Since I didn’t have much to post about Week 7, let’s skip ahead a little and look at 8 weeks, too!


Can you believe the difference in just 13 days? Baby A is a whole 12mm bigger!  The more round area to the right is Baby’s head. We can even make out little arm buds and the little white lines you see on each side of Baby represents part of the developing amnion or sac of fluid around Baby.


Now check out Baby B below!

8 week fetus

Baby B is now a whopping 13mm bigger!  What an animal!


8 week twins

Not only is the 8 week fetus a site to behold but all the changes seen in every week of the first trimester are really quite unbelievable and it truly is one of the most favorite aspects of my job.  I love it!  It makes me realize what a privilege and honor it is to be able to catch a glimpse into this amazing world on a regular basis.

One day they’re 3mm; you blink, and they’re 16mm!  Wow, our kids just grow up so fast! (sniff, sniff)

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Posted on March 15th, 2015 by

In the last post I wrote that we were able to FINALLY see a first trimester embryo in each sac in this twin pregnancy!

Lo and behold, they both measured 6wks!  We could not explain why the gestational sac of Baby A was smaller or why that of Baby B was larger.  We were still a bit concerned about that finding but the fact that we saw two strong heartbeats and two babies that measured essentially the same were both very reassuring!  See the images below for measurements of the embryos.


Embryo measurement at 6wks

Baby A Embryo

You’ll note here that Baby A was measuring a whopping 3.5mm!

Embryo measurement at 6wks

Baby B Embryo

Baby B measured about the same at 3.4mm.

Now check out the heart rates as determined by pulsed doppler so Mom could hear them.  Typically and with modern equipment, if we can see it, we can also hear it.

Embryonic heart rate at 6wks

Baby A Heart Rate

This is the heart rate for Baby A.  Note that it is just over 100bpm which is a great start!

Embryonic heart rate at 6wks

Baby B Heart Rate

Baby B’s heart rate was just a tad faster and a little easier to hear as you can see by the strength of the cardiac cycles on the baseline.

Stick around and keep coming back to read more about these twins!  In the next post they’ll be 7wks and you will be impressed at how much bigger they look in only one week’s time!

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Posted on March 9th, 2015 by

A continuation of the early first trimester gestational sac seen in the case of this dichorionic pregnancy just five days later brings along a few more changes!  See the image below..

early twin gestational sacs

First Trimester Twin Gestational Sacs


For starters, the yolk sacs are much more defined.  Can you see that compared to the images of the last post?  Now the smaller gsac really looked larger than shown here; this is just a good image of both yolk sacs.

Note the dates and see the images below for a comparison of gestational sac size just two days later!

early twin gestational sacs

First Trimester Gestational Sac


Baby B

early twin gestational sacs

First Trimester Gestational Sac


Baby A

Notice how the sizes of the gestational sacs differ by nearly a full week!  Another way to measure the gsac is to measure it in all three dimensions instead of just the larger single measurement as previously discussed.  Measuring in all three planes typically calculates a tad more accurate estimation of age.  Baby A was the smaller sac measuring 5w3d; Baby B, the larger sac, = 6w2d.

At this point, if Babies were really over 6wks, we should have been seeing embryos in each sac with heartbeats.  If just over 5wks, we would not.  So….., did we??

Y E S!!  

I couldn’t keep you hanging another day!  (I’m nice like that.)  I’ll show you in my next post what the embryos looked like as well as heartbeats.

But something to ponder..since Baby A’s sac was almost a week smaller, did it mean A would not make it?  There was no way to predict.  Did they measure the exact same gestational age?  You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

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Posted on March 4th, 2015 by

So, just two days later, we see two minimally larger sacs as demonstrated below.  That one sac is appreciably smaller still has us concerned at this point.  Our nurse and new mom-to-be has resigned herself to the idea that she may have just one baby here eventually…if she was lucky.  Even though the dimensions came out a bit blurry (taken with a camera some time back), you can see that they differ by about 3/10 of a mm which seems SO tiny!  The other crazy factor is how much one can truly appreciate that tiny difference at this magnitude!  The larger sac measures 8.8mm and the smaller about 5.1mm.  Check out her images below:

gestational sac 5+wks


The biggest variable here that continued to give us hope was how, in just two days, we could visibly appreciate a very tiny yolk sac within each sac!  These are the little circles outlined in white along the bottom wall of each gsac which provide nutrients for the growing embryos until the placentas are developed enough to take over the job.

At this point, we knew there were some good changes going on.  But how far along was she, really?  There’s a general rule of thumb we use when measuring a gsac.  We take the one biggest dimension of the sac and add 4 to determine gestational age.  Applying that rule here, was she 4.5wks or 4.9wks?  Considering all these measurements are only general estimates until we can see and measure an embryo, we had to assume 5+wks GA (gestational age) based on the presence of the developing yolk sacs.

Still, the differences were a little worrisome for us both.  Would the smaller sac catch up?  Would we see embryos the same size at the same time?  We would scan her again three days after this.  Stay tuned to see the changes in these 5 week twin gestational sacs!

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Posted on March 1st, 2015 by

Most women never get to witness this most amazing part of their pregnancies…the ultimate genesis of a pregnancy as can be visualized by ultrasound. Almost no one has an ultrasound performed every single week in the first trimester so I will share with you in the upcoming posts the astounding changes one can expect to see on a weekly basis.

Between 4 and 5wks of gestation, we begin to see the very start of a pregnancy as demonstrated by a tiny little sac of fluid called the gestational sac.  The changes from week to week are incredible as monumental changes take place with regard to growth of the gestational sac, yolk sac and embryo!  There is no way a physician can confirm with any real assuredness that a pregnancy will progress normally at this point and a vast number of them end in miscarriage..sometimes without a woman ever knowing she was pregnant at all.  I’ve heard my doctors say this is usually nature’s way of taking care of something that was genetically abnormal.  Each week a pregnancy progresses successfully, the higher the chances are it will continue.  For this reason,  your doctor will usually want you to wait until about 7wks before seeing her/him for a confirmation visit.

Your gestational age is determined by the first day of your last menstrual period or your LMP.  For example, if you are 4wks pregnant today, your LMP would have been 1/31/15 and you would have conceived 2/14/15.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I know it seems two weeks off, however, everything is calibrated according to LMP.  Very few women know when they actually conceived vs most women who know when their last period started.

Sometimes a woman’s “dates” are off meaning you are really farther along or not as far along as you thought.  Maybe you gave us the wrong LMP or maybe you ovulated very late.  This can change what we would see on ultrasound.  If you are too early, there’s not a whole lot we can tell you about your pregnancy.  Until we see at least a 6wk embryo with a normal heart rate and normal-appearing yolk sac, anything goes.  Even then, your chance of miscarriage drops dramatically but the next few weeks are still critical.  Typically, one is considered “out of the woods” after the 1st trimester is over at 12wks.

If you are less than 6wks when you have an ultrasound performed, we may see only a thickened endometrium and no gestational sac (<4wks), only a gestational sac (4 – ~5+wks) or a gestational sac and a yolk sac (~5+wks – 5w5d).  The changes we see every week are dramatic and essentially the same in every normally-progressing pregnancy.  For instance, we know that if we see a sac that measures 5wks and you come back two weeks later, we should very well see an embryo that measures about 7wks.  The embryo measurement is the important one for dating here as the early gestational sac can vary in size by a few days or more.

The images I have for you today are a perfect example of this!  Below is a dichorionic pregnancy or TWINS!  Fraternal, that is.  I am not a geneticist and I believe there may be a possible variant here for identical but typically this type of pregnancy means you ovulated twice in the same month.  Two eggs were released at about the same time and both were fertilized.  SURPRISE!  Man, I just love seeing the looks on people’s faces when I give them this news.  It’s the best!!

This proud owner of this uterus and, eventually, a beautiful boy AND girl happened to be one of our nurses whom we scanned every couple of days in the beginning because she was a nervous wreck!  Alas, her anxiety brings you a peek into the life of a growing pregnancy starting at <5wks!  Enjoy!

5wk twin gestational sacs

You’ll notice the discrepant sizes of the gsacs. The smaller sac measured about 5mm and the larger equalled about 8mm.  We didn’t know at this point whether the two eggs were possibly fertilized a couple of days apart or if the smaller sac would likely not progress.  We both knew, however, that only time would tell.

5wk gestational sac

This gsac measures 5.7mm or about 4 1/2wks.  One criterion we note of a gsac is a brighter ring around the sac (the small black circle).  This ring is called a decidual cast or reaction which is inside the single arrows.  It should also be seen within the endometrium as you’ll see outlined by the double lines.

The next post will demonstrate how these sacs looked just two days later!

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Posted on February 25th, 2015 by

..those babies, that is. I can scan them all day long but, I can promise you, no woman in this world would want me at home plate wearing the catcher’s mitt.  That being said, MOST docs (granted, not all) do not make the best sonographers.

We know our strengths, right?  At least most of us do.  As we get older and grow into our careers, we become aware of where we excel..and where we don’t.  Not one of us on this planet is perfect or even close.  We all have room for improvement and, if we do it right, we never quit learning.  The ultimate in humility is someone who is super educated and uber-accomplished who can admit he is not great at something.  The polar opposite is a similarly academic over-achiever who is terrible at something and doesn’t know it.  And it’s worse when everyone knows it but him!  Ah, the human ego.  It sometimes knows no bounds and does us no favors.

I have to say my docs are pretty great about this.  Some try to scan a little more than others and feel comfortable in some aspects of the modality.  At the end of the day, however, they call on their sonographers for reliable ultrasound information.  Docs, unless they are perinatologists (high-risk OB docs), are not vastly trained on the equipment to the extent of an experienced sonographer nor do they know how to obtain particular images.  We have an aviator’s panel of knobs and buttons that help us in obtaining quality ultrasound images.

Read an email below from a reader who was scanned by her doctor as he attempted to determine gender:

mama-to-be:  First of all, I love your blog.  It took me forever to find it!  I am a mother of three and expecting.  I have two boys and one girl.  I went in for my 17 week u/s scan just to make sure I was not further along.  My doctor said that by how the baby was positioned, he could “guess” 80% that it was a BOY. But it could also be the umbilical cord that’s in the way.  Baby was giving us his back at all times and my question to you is, based on these u/s pictures, can you tell gender?????!!!

one doc's images one doc's images

wwavb:  Thanks for reading and I’m so happy you are enjoying my blog!  I hope you’ll subscribe for future posts.  First, if you do a search for gender determination on my site, you’ll find several topics on the subject..especially ones that say if the image isn’t a good one, I can’t tell a thing.  I am sorry to say these images for gender certainly fall into that category!  Physicians are not always the best sonographers so don’t go painting blue yet.  And I can provide that advice with 100% confidence!

Please feel free to send me images again later in the pregnancy if they are able to get a great potty shot.  I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more!

Best wishes,


I really hate it when I can’t help someone who has taken the time to write me for my opinion but, holy cow, let me count the ways in which these images stink.  Any seasoned OB sonographer reading this is laughing hysterically.  Oh, well, we’ll give her doc a C for effort but I am 100% confident that he should never be 80% confident about his scanning abilities and 100% confident that she should not paint her nursery in blue whales and sailboats just yet.  I’m also 100% confident that he has a good 50% shot at being correct.

I always joke with my doctors and tell them not to get too good at ultrasound because I need my job.  Make no mistake about it, I sure can’t do theirs.  And with images like the ones above, we’re talking serious job security for good sonographers everywhere!

!!Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll show you how we all start out..the very beginnings in growth and development of a gestational sac (via my magic wand)!!

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Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

Yes, the title deserves a post all its own and screaming toddlers in OB practices around the country today are getting their due.

I think it’s no secret from prior posts how I feel about this situation.  Babies are precious and I can’t keep my hands off of them.  I want to smother them with sugar as much as the next person..only NOT when I am working.  Like most things in life, there is a time and place for everything (including your kids).  The GYN office is one of them.  The OB office, unassisted, is another.  Taking a toddler to an ultrasound is simply not a fabulous concept.  Today’s events were a perfect example of just that!

As I am minding my own business between patients and uploading exam reports and images for my docs, I become fretfully aware of a toddler in distress.  It continues.  And continues.  I realize the incessant, fever-pitched screams are coming from the room next door where my co-worker was performing an ultrasound and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her knowing she was trying terribly to concentrate and failing miserably.

When another co-worker walked by my room and widened her eyes at me, I knew it was time to step in.  I called her extension and asked if she needed anything.  She said she could handle it.  At this point, I didn’t know if there was someone else with the patient besides the beyond-pissed child in tow.  I guess Dad got the picture because about a minute later, he stepped out with the red-faced, tear-soaked little dumpling.  All I could think in that moment was what in the world made that father stay put while his child freaked out for ten solid minutes like that?  Poor baby!  Who in their right minds think this is okay during an examination..or anywhere??  Mom.  She was upset they had to leave.  My co-worker apologized and explained she just couldn’t concentrate which, in my opinion, needed absolutely no explanation at all.  I know this probably happens 100,000 times per day at offices all around the country but the real question is ‘should it?’

This really should be a no-brainer for parents of any age.  We all know children are temperamental.  We carry diaper bags with us that hold everything but the kitchen sink in an effort to plan for any and every event we can imagine.  And when we have an important meeting, we hire a sitter or take Baby to Auntie’s house.  We don’t put Baby in a papoose for romantic date night, do we?  No.  This is because we want to focus on our spouse instead of spending the entire candle-lit dinner picking up the sippie cup off the floor or wiping a snotty nose with our linen napkin or silk sleeve of our favorite new blouse.  I am always amazed when parents don’t understand why a two-year-old won’t just “sit still” or why “he’s so fussy” when they scheduled their appointment right in the middle of his nap time…the very same nap time he has taken every single day at this hour his entire little life.

Most every woman knows to leave Baby home for a special evening with Daddy and Daddy is totally on-board with this idea.  Your ultrasound examination of the next member of your family is pretty special, too.  We know you want to relish this experience in every way possible and you totally should, too!  The only way to ensure you won’t be distracted from the most amazing movie you’ve ever seen is to let Little Princess crawl or run or fuss or eat or sleep as much as she wants…at home…just like date night;)

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Posted on February 12th, 2015 by

One of the strangest enigmas of my job is the development of my warped sense of time.  I rarely remember patient names but I do remember certain exams and images and I most definitely know faces! I might see a vaguely familiar name on my schedule, then see the patient in the waiting room and immediately put the face with the name. What always blows me away is, in fact, the length of time which has passed since they last delivered!

Case in point.. I recognized a name today, entered it into my machine and was stunned as to why the name did not pop up in the search. After all, she JUST delivered (last year, I was thinking). So, I call her back and begin my usual “so good to see you” gab and asked how old Baby is now.  “Baby”, she informed me, is FIVE! And no, not in months.  I seriously needed a few minutes to gather my composure and I’m sure she could tell by the look of sheer dumbfoundedness on my face.  It was quite amusing to her, I must say.  We both laughed and discussed how incredibly fast time flies when we are moms.

No matter whether someone is coming to see me for their second pregnancy or their fifth, it seems that almost no time has passed since their last visit.  It’s sort of like judging age; I’m getting to be terrible at that anymore, too!

Is it the long career in ultrasound serving the general public or is it our kids that make us this crazy?! Hmm..

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Posted on February 4th, 2015 by

I love it when patients call in to the office to schedule their anatomy screening and try to tell us their doctor wants the scan a week or two earlier than we KNOW they want it! I know most of you are a little smarter than that..alas, there are always a few who are not.

Each doctor has a designated time in your pregnancy when he/she feels gestational age is optimal for this test. Since we are discussing the practice of medicine, mind you, it’s important to note that all doctors practice a little differently but should do so within the same standard of care.  So as that applies to this examination, most docs will request you to have this exam performed between 18 and 20wks or thereabouts. As I’ve mentioned before, Baby is just big enough to see most organs well at this point with most patients.

For example, we know in our office that Drs. A, B, C and D will request this exam at 18wks or so. Dr. E will always request it at 20wks and asking for it at 19 will be like twisting her arm. Honestly, scanning a little later most always gives us a better look at fetal anatomy but Drs. A and C don’t feel like arguing this point with patients who are trying to plan the gender reveal party so they will allow their patients to come in at 18wks. Drs. B and D are easy going so they’ll schedule it whenever.

Recently, a patient calls in and says Dr. E told her she could have the scan at 18. Hmmm, really now. However it happened, she was scheduled for the exam. As I’m looking through this patient’s chart, I notice she had a dating scan earlier in her pregnancy that changed her due date..she was only 15wks! Needless to say, after conferring with Dr. E’s nurse, the exam was cancelled and the patient was furious…even though she knew she was too early for the examination. She simply elected to not divulge her true gestational age when making her I or her doctor  wouldn’t notice??

My job not only entails scanning Baby for abnormalities at an appropriate time that they can be diagnosed but to also confirm the order by the physician and to ensure the exam is performed within the specified time frame in which the physician orders it.

“I don’t care. I just want to know the gender.” Well, your insurance company cares and they are not going to pay for it twice.

And for the 8,462nd time in my career, we will never confirm gender at 15wks. I’ll probably say it another 8,462 times before I retire!

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Posted on February 1st, 2015 by

Most OB patients these days get a vaginal ultrasound when they present for establishing of care with their OB docs for a new pregnancy.  Most offices maintain requirements for when this first visit should be scheduled.  There is good reason for this.  Most patients want to see their docs AS SOON as the pee stick demonstrates that little plus sign but the problem is that very little can be determined by your doctor too early in the first trimester except, of course, that you’re pregnant.

Commercials of home pregnancy tests like to tout that you can determine as early as the first missed day that you are pregnant.  This isn’t always a good thing, especially for those overly anxious patients.  Naturally, the next question they all have is “Is everything okay?”  If you are less than 6wks (from your LMP or last menstrual period), we just cannot confirm this!  Even then, not many are entirely sure when exactly they conceived.  A week late with ovulation means we still aren’t going to see much at 6wks from your LMP.  That is to say, the earliest we can measure an embryo and detect cardiac activity is about 6wks. Even then, it can be quite difficult to see well or measure depending on position of the embryo and uterus. If you are even a few days earlier than this, we would only see a gestational sac and possibly a yolk sac. It’s not feasible to scan you every day and your insurance company will not allow it, anyway!  All the above reasons are why some docs specify a confirmation visit no earlier than 8wks for a 1st trimester dating scan, when we should be able to confirm a fetal pole and a heartbeat.  Coming in too early if your dates are off means your doctor will then have to order a follow-up visit for you in a week or two to confirm a normal early pregnancy.  Trust me!  This will feel like the LONGEST one or two weeks of your life!

Sometimes the dates conflict. Your LMP may say you are 10wks but we see a fetal pole that measures 6wks. This just means you really became pregnant a month later. When these numbers are discrepant by more than just a few days, your doctor will typically use the gestational age we obtain by ultrasound.  See the fetal pole and report images below.

10w2d Fetus


Note that on the report, the patient should have been 11w3d by her LMP of November 10 but Baby measured 10w2d instead.  With dates = 8d off at this point, her doctor will likely go with the due date of 8/25/2015 instead of 8/17.

So, take my word for it.  The only thing worse than waiting to see your doctor for your first OB visit is going to see her and then leaving without answers.  Trust your doctor’s office when you call to make this appointment and they say it’s too early!  They know what’s better for you than you do;)

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Posted on January 24th, 2015 by

I’ve written it a hundred times..or seems like it! Someone sends me an image and wants to know if I can confirm gender. Sometimes I can tell, sometimes it’s clear as mud. I usually have to write back and give my spiel about unclear gender on ultrasound and how, because I wasn’t the one who scanned, I can’t see the whole uterus. Some images are just bad!

In ultrasound, we have either images that are beautiful which belong in a textbook and anyone with an eye for the modality can tell you what is pictured. Then there are terrible images where we just shrug our shoulders and wonder what someone was thinking when she snapped the image.

I’ll share this email from a reader and her image and attempt to give you an example here of clear vs not.

unsure mama:  Hello! I’m on my 4th pregnancy and my first 3 were clear as day regarding genders, all done after 20 weeks. But this one, however, my sonographer seemed like she was struggling to get a potty shot. I’m not sure of real fetal age due to bleeding the entire time until 14 weeks. My sonographer said the baby was breech and sunny side up? Baby was also measuring at 17weeks 4days. She hesitated but then said girl. I didn’t ask questions but I didn’t see lines or a turtle. Here’s the pic she gave me. What would you say? Any information will be greatly appreciated. I have one girl who is oldest and two sons.


wwavblogger:  Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll subscribe! So, like I typically say, if it’s not a perfect picture, I just can’t sign off on gender. That being said, it could very well be a girl and this just isn’t a great image. It looks like the view is one of baby crawling away from you, if you can put your imagination to work. Right above the arrow is where you would see the 3 dots, however, the dots can blur together if the image is not entirely clear.

I’ll include a link below where I show a baby girl in a similar position, just a little more to the side. Idea is the same. This one is clear and you can clearly see 3 dots here. You can also compare it to the twin brother shot in the same post, too!

I don’t see obvious boy stuff hanging down like I would expect to see here!

Good Luck!


So, girl? Maybe! Boy? Sure can’t say it’s not!

My image in the link above that I sent her of girly parts you’ll find below. Which can you see better?

female gender

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Posted on January 23rd, 2015 by

One thing Moms wonder about most while waiting for the big day is how much Baby she is actually going to have to push outta there!  If it’s not your quasi-friends telling you you’re huge or a perfect random stranger asking if there are two in tow, then it’s your bathroom scale not-so-gently reminding you of your ever-changing shape. You see the numbers creepin’ up like your too-tight fave pair o’ jeans. If you’re really lucky, you just failed your two-hour glucose. Just when you thought pregnancy was going to be your temporary ticket to Oreotown, your doc is telling you to find a new love for wheatgrass shakes and to hang it up on the Beautiful Bavarian you have a date with for breakfast every day…your husband should be jealous the way you eye those things. I know, I know. I could eat half a dozen of them myself and I can’t use the excuse of growing a human or “Baby wants it; he told me”. Of course, you could use the disclaimer my old Italian mother swears by..if you crave something and you don’t let yourself have it, your baby will be born with a birthmark in the shape of that food somewhere on its body. I kid you not; she really believes it. All I can say is it’s a good thing it’s only an old wives’ tale or there would be an awful lot of gestational diabetes babies out there born looking like pizza and french fries.  Hmm, I wonder what an ice cream birthmark would look like? A dripping cone? The whole carton?

I guess one of the favorite pastimes of Moms today in this age of quickly-changing technology is consulting the highly-revered but often-times inconsistent daily app. You want to know if your weight gain is normal, if it’s too high or too low. Was quasi-friend right to tell you not to have that second piece of cake? Personally, she’d be no friend of mine after that. Let them eat cake! Or it’s “Aw, my baby is an eggplant today.” Huh??

So, knowing we have this insatiable appetite (no pun intended) for knowing everything everyday or at least being able to look it up and get some sort of answer, is it any wonder we wonder at all about the weight of our babies, too? This is where one role of ultrasound is important. Even though very subjective (as ALL ultrasound is), knowing how to take good measurements of your baby provides your doctor with some really important information about fetal well-being.  Read on from One Confused Momma who was originally confused about gender then more confused about Baby’s size!

ocm:  Okay so new question!! How accurate are ultrasound measurements as far as baby’s weight?? I had my last one today and she measured him at about 4lbs and I’m only 29 weeks and 3 days.

wwavb:  Hi, again! It varies and it’s not an exact science. Generally speaking, the measurements we take of the head, belly and femur are subjective but have a standard deviation of 3wks in the 3rd trimester. The total weight estimation will probably be somewhere around +/- a half pound or so at this gestational age. If we get a measurement that is a couple of weeks ahead, it can still be very much within normal limits for size. We also see that babies can grow in spurts so if the belly measures big now, it doesn’t mean it will nearer your due date. We can also determine through serial scans if a baby is trending large or small and your physician will follow fetal growth accordingly. So! All that being said, if your doctor feels baby will be big, he or she will likely keep an eye on size. This is a good question for your doc at your next visit!


I don’t have one with me now but I’ll print a report of a 3rd trimester biometry (fetal measurements) with an EFW, or estimated fetal weight, and share it with you next week, if not tomorrow!

I’ll also add here that your doctor uses the fundal height or the measurement in centimeters to the top of your uterus he/she obtains when you go in for visits to determine growth in generalities. If your uterus measures really large, your doc may order a sonogram to see if Baby is big or if you have too much fluid, polyhydramnios. We see a lot of this, by the way, and don’t always have an explanation for why it’s there. Conversely, if you measure pretty small, your doc may want to find out if Baby is not growing appropriately and to ensure you have enough fluid. Mom’s body type can also influence how your belly looks, too! You can spend all day downloading apps but, as always, questions pertaining to you and your pregnancy and baby specifically can only be answered by your doctor! (And not Dr. Google)

At the end of the day, our shapes during pregnancy are as different as we all are different from one another. We have to quit comparing our bellies to those highly polished on the cover of Vanity Fair and even one another and know we are doing what is right as long as we are adhering to our doctor’s guidelines! Sometimes it’s out of our control and our babies end up too big or not thriving well. Either way, that’s why you have people like me around!

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Posted on January 21st, 2015 by

I’m baa-aaaack! Yay! I’ve missed writing and I’m super happy to be back to post your questions and answers! I am truly sorry it took me so long to go live again but it is a process! ..and one I’ve discovered is not my strong-suit to attempt without technical help.

I have posted some “kids say the funniest things” in the past. Honestly, most of the time when parents bring their kids with them, especially for a lengthy ultrasound exam like the anatomy screen, it truly can be very distracting and disconcerting. Did I also mention irritating? I know I’ve explained myself here before but when I am trying to focus on my patient’s exam, the task is made twice as hard no matter whether a child is screaming, dad is constantly disciplining or grandma is reading a story. We one-track mind sonographers desperately need our quiet concentration!

Every once in a while, however, we have a child in the room who is simply entertaining…like the one who thought his baby sister looked “weally weihrd” from one of my most recent posts and he was NOT making the mistake of coming to visit me again. A totally precious little girl was in today with her Latino family. She must have asked me a million questions. The exam I had to do was pretty short and sweet so it didn’t require too much brain power, fortunately, and I could indulge her a little. Every time Grandma thought she was talking too much, she would tell her in Spanish to stop and pay attention. That would work for about 30 solid seconds before the onslaught of more questioning. She was so cute and smart and SO well-spoken for only four!

For those of you who have had a sonogram later in the third trimester, you know how big Baby looks on the monitor. My little guest sees the baby’s abdominal circumference fill the image. Out of total quiet she exclaims, “My baby cousin has a really big head..and her butt is GRANDE”!

Any kid who can make me laugh out loud can visit me any day of the week;)

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Posted on January 5th, 2015 by

Hi, all readers!

My blog is currently undergoing a much-needed physical and bug fix so I promise to post again ASAP which will, hopefully, be tomorrow evening! I will surely keep you all informed on status on a regular basis.  I sure don’t want to be responsible for a wwavblog-withdrawal (this is a joke, by the way). Please, please stay tuned for more great info and images about one of our favorite subjects ever..our kids!

In the meantime, feel free to continue emailing me!

Thanks for your patience!



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Posted on January 3rd, 2015 by

Just a little note here before jumping into the subject o’ the day!.. Please know I am a stickler for grammatically-correct sentences and proper punctuation! I know, I probably don’t give a you-know-what but it seems to be a lost art in this generation of texters, acronyms and run-on sentences. I do re-read several times before publishing but still find errors later that I ultimately go back and correct but not before you’ve read it..much to my chagrin. typing “you’re” instead of “your” or “it’s instead of its”. You get the drift. If you find a dreadful error and feel I should know, please feel free! Sometimes this editor-in-chief is quite tired, leaving such cringe-worthy errs in my wake as I make a bee-line to bed. Since it’s my blog and I can say what I want to, I suppose I can still use things like “Sheez” if I feel like it, as well;) I’m not sure we’d find that one in Webster. Okay..enough of the English class!

I will post an email I received from an anxious mama regarding an image she was given by her doctor. She didn’t see a yolk sac and was concerned one may not be there. My last post was directly related to this  concern. If you haven’t read it yet, please do!

anxious mama:  Re: Ultrasound photo confusion

I recently got an ultrasound at 7 weeks 5 days. My doctor said everything looked great and we were able to see its little heartbeat. When I got home and looked at the photo a little closer, I couldn’t find a yolk sac. I will send you the ultrasound from my email account since I can’t figure out how to attach it here. Would you mind looking at it and letting me know if you can see a yolk sac or anything else you may notice? Thank you so much. This is my first pregnancy after having a miscarriage and I am slightly protective 🙂

7w5d embryo with no yolk sac in the image


wwavblogger: Thank you for reading, emailing me and subscribing! I hope you enjoy the blog and pass it on to your friends!

So, if you haven’t yet read my most recent post, please do. It explains (to the best of my ability without being able to demonstrate in person) how ultrasound cannot capture in a single image everything that is in your uterus. No, there is not a yolk sac in this image. That being said, the yolk sac may be positioned on either side of the embryo, in which case, it would not be seen in this particular image.

Also, if you look up information on the job of the yolk sac.. type in yolk sac in my search engine and you should find a couple of posts on that subject will learn that it provides nutrients for the embryo until the placenta develops. No yolk sac, no embryo. Baby cannot grow to even this point without it! So, if your doctor said all looks good and you see a heartbeat, there has to be a yolk sac in there. Yay!

I will also add here that I understand how frightening it can be and what an anxious time it is for you to try again. No matter how early someone miscarries, it’s still a loss and emotionally draining. Scientifically speaking, it’s nature’s way of taking care of something that was not developing properly. From a human, spiritual or emotional view, I like to think of it as Baby wasn’t ready then but maybe is now:) I always say our babies don’t necessarily come to us when we are ready for them..they have to be ready for this great big world, too!

I hope I answered your questions and you find a little peace and comfort in my response. I know you will be a bit anxious until you are out of the first trimester but I wish you many blessings for a great pregnancy and beautiful, healthy baby!

Warm Regards,


I’m glad she emailed the image to me. The “Ask Me” page is good for a short question or statement. It’s better to email me if your question or concern is long and if you have images to share!

Sometimes we get the yolk sac in the same image with the embryo or fetus..sometimes not. If the yolk sac is parallel with the sound beam when obtaining a great shot of baby, it will be seen in the image. If not, it won’t! Check out the image of the yolk sacs on the twins below.

Yolk Sacs

Now here is an image below of the same pregnancy with just the embryos imaged.

6w6d Dichorionic/Diamniotic Twins


As providers, we don’t take special pains to give you an image of the yolk sac because it just isn’t as doggone cute as Little Sprout! 🙂


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Posted on January 2nd, 2015 by


I’d like to (again) thank all my readers, old and new, and hope you all find what you came to my site seeking in 2014 and in this new year, as well. I hope all your holidays were joyous and that your post-Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate!) scale didn’t demonstrate a “Please quit hitting the figgie pudding” alert.

Let’s hit the ground running with an answer to emails! Some I’ve received as of late include questions regarding what patients can or cannot see in an image given to them by their provider. I have been answering essentially the same way so I will address the subject in this post about how ultrasound works.

I have posted information at the start of this blog about the technology of ultrasound and how it works.  If you go to my first several posts, you’ll read on this subject to varying degrees.  First and foremost, ultrasound creates a two-dimensional image which is what you see in black and white images. However, when we look at any object, we are able to visualize three-dimensionally which allows us to perceive depth. When we look at an image on an ultrasound monitor, there is no depth. Example: Imagine looking at a tree. Its trunk is long and skinny, right? Now imagine cutting the tree down with an electric saw. When you look down at the stump, it’s round. All you can see is that one surface of the tree in that view. If you were to then cut 2mm slices of that tree trunk all the way down to the roots and you looked at every slice, this is essentially what we are doing when we look through your uterus when we move the probe up and down.

Now, if I look at the middle of your uterus and keep my probe still and take an image, I am obtaining one view of your uterus and that’s all. In that one plane, I can only see exactly where my probe sits. I have to physically move my probe all the way up and down to see to the top and bottom of your uterus and then from side to side to see all the way through your uterus to the right and left.  As we move through the organ we are scanning, we form a mental 3D picture of what is going on in the uterus. This means if we take a picture of your baby’s profile and the hand is resting near the ear, the hand will not be in the picture (and neither will the ear!). A profile can be defined as a side-view of baby’s face right down the middle, right? So all we would see is the outline of the forehead, bridge and tip of the nose and outline of the lips and chin. Now if Baby had his hand resting on his forehead, we would see it in that view. Make sense?? I hope so! See the image below of a great profile.

2D fetal ultrasound image Side view of Baby’s face

The utilization of 3D software has allowed us to capture the perception of depth. This technology aids us in more than just cute pics of the fetal face. A good example is how it helps us to see an IUD (hey, an idea for another post!). 3D allows us to take a sweep of several views at once when looking at Baby’s profile, for example, and put them all together to form a box of information which enables us to move through the information by turning a few buttons to see the front of Baby’s face all at once!  Below is the same baby as you see above in 2D. Where the face is cut off by black is where the box of information stops.

3D fetal ultrasound image

Front view of Baby’s face.

In conclusion, 2D imaging allows us to see in two planes only at one time..either top to bottom OR side to side but not both at the same time. This is why we can’t see everything in your uterus all at once! Now, hopefully, you understand a little better why we move the “camera” all over your belly. It also explains why we sometimes roll you onto your side or stand you on your head to get the angle we need!

I hope 2015 finds all of you with uneventful pregnancies and happy, healthy babies who sleep through the night! Many blessings to you all and I hope you keep coming back to my site to have all your ultrasound questions answered!

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Posted on December 27th, 2014 by

I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful holiday and all was merry and bright. Well, I guess they are not entirely over until the fat lady sings or the big apple in the sky drops.

Thank you for another great year of sticking by my blog and enjoying my posts! I hope I can continue to entertain you all with more ultrasound knowledge than you care to have and maybe a few funny stories along the way, too.  There is usually no shortage of those in a crazy work week.

My goal in the next year is to post more often..that is, if I have something to share on a daily basis, I’ll do it! I’ll find more images to share, continue to post your emails so others can learn from them, too, and maybe even grow my site with a little advertising! My hope is to continue to educate you about the scope of ultrasound as it pertains to my job with a little fun and humor.

As always, please share my site with your pregnant friends and feel free to email me anytime with your questions or comments! I will always try to answer ASAP!

Until next time, enjoy the 3D ultrasound image of the little pumpkin below..all was merry, bright and comfy-cozy as far as he was concerned!

Can you maybe spot a little dimple? Precious;)

3D ultrasound image

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Posted on December 23rd, 2014 by

I’m a little Italian. Well, half. The other half is a Heinz 57 mix of German and Scotch with a little splash of Cherokee Indian. How about that concoction, huh? Most of us Americans are a jumbled gumbo of ancestry. So if you don’t understand the title of this post, you really do! Or you may comprehend “no comprende”. They both mean the same thing. “I don’t understand”. I know this of some of my patients without their saying these words..or a word.

The majority of this lack of understanding primarily comes from my really young patients..those under 20.  Sometimes it’s a blank stare (believe me, I get those from people over 20, as well) or sometimes it’s in the form of a series of inquiries which may begin with “huh?”. I reply with essentially the same answer phrased a little differently each time with an effort to break it down just a little further with each subsequent, unending series of the same question over and over and over.  See if you can follow the following conversation:

(I will preface this by stating that when I typically take a patient back for an Anatomy Screen, I will make their entourage remain in the waiting room initially so I can have some quiet while performing the examination. I say this to the patient as I walk her back for the test. Some don’t get it.)


“I’m going to take you and your spouse or one other person back first for the medical portion of the examination then you can bring in the rest of your family.”

“Medical examination.” (You know the questions that are asked more like a statement than a question?)

“Yes, I need to get the medical portion of the exam done first, then I’ll be happy to let your family back.”

“Medical portion?”

“Yes, I need some time to perform the diagnostic test on the baby first.”

“Test. What test? I’m not supposed to be having a test today.”

“Your ultrasound. It’s a diagnostic evaluation on your baby. I have measurements to take and lots of things to document first.”

“Oh. So they can’t come in now?”



Welcome to my career. Granted it’s not every day I have to attempt to impart wisdom in such a way and I can only jest because I was almost as ignorant at that age. However, it’s a  l i t t l e scary sometimes that certain people will be called “Mom” in a very short amount of time. I suppose it takes time to become a woman of the world!

Just a cute pic before I peace-out for the morning;)

11wks waving


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Posted on December 21st, 2014 by

I’ve discussed in earlier posts the true scope and nature of what I do. I’m not a glorified photographer (“go out and get a real job”??). I have always had a problem with that line in Juno. I guess it’s because the words are condescending and diminish the work I really do.  I will add here, however, that the description would not be out of line regarding those who work only in the “elective ultrasound” business, the 3D peek, mommy and me, I’ll-take-your-money-and-guess-at-gender-too-early establishments. I have to wonder if they cannot get a “real” job in ultrasound. Shut it DOWN (in the words of Jess to all you New Girl followers – such a great show!) Okay, enough with movie and TV references, I promise. But whomever wrote the Juno line is either totally ignorant about my “real” job or, conversely, maybe he/she was trying to convey the ignorance of the character of Juno’s mother. Regardless and much to my dismay on a very regular basis, this is the general perception of my work to most lay people.

In a nutshell, my job is to rule out abnormalities. Structural abnormalities and pathology relative to the patient like the uterus, cervix and adnexal regions (out to the sides of the uterus) and of the fetus like the placenta, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord and the fetus itself. I am attempting to exclude some 200 disease processes and/or pathological conditions with the Anatomy Screen or the fetal ultrasound examination otherwise known as “the one where I find out the sex”.  Unfortunately, this IS the most important tidbit of information and we hear it on a weekly basis. Patients call in to find out the results of a chromosomal test asking only for gender results; comical yet sad.

So my job surely is not always fun as I do occasionally find problems but when it is fun, it is great fun. My motto is “Business in the front, party in the back!”. In other words, let’s take all the measurements and make sure baby looks great then have some the image below.

This little sugarplum is all snug in his bed.  Hope yours is, too!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays until next post!

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Posted on December 20th, 2014 by

Here is tonight’s great 3D image..

Visions of sugarplums are dancing in her head!  Such a cute little thing to stuff in your stocking!

3D image



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Posted on December 19th, 2014 by

One would think those words apply only to children. Not so much.  It also applies to a myriad of things in my room that a) a patient should not touch and b) that one would not want to touch.

One would also think that adults would automatically know what things they would not want to come in contact with simply by looking at them. Lo and behold, this theory does not hold water, either. Or oil..

Let me explain. For about the past month my electric table has been leaking fluid. While my manager is pricing options, I have kept a paper drape on the floor at the foot of the table to catch it. Every time I bring another patient in my exam room, I start into my spiel about the leak and instruct them to just step around it. Some people do not heed the warning or even hear me at all. Can I please tell you how many times people have actually picked up the damn thing? Spotted with hydrolic fluid and crumple up on the floor, I have heard everything from “Oh, you left something down here” to “Cover up with this?” and “Ew, there are body fluids down here!”

I don’t think there is an emoji to depict my face here.  It’s something between a “seriously” and “what the hell..” I’ve determined in my career as a mom and a sonographer that selective hearing is not just a childhood disease.

I promised you guys more cute 3D pics. If the above story was enough to make you wince, I think this 29wker shares your sentiment!

3D image 29wks

(Hilarious, right?)

Come back tomorrow for more too-cute images and feel free to email me any time!

Please share this site with your friends!

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Posted on December 18th, 2014 by

Well, folks..I have been in full swing as most of you have also during this spiritual, joyous and crazy as a nutcracker of a holiday this really is.  The only place more chaotic  than your local malls and Targets this time of year guessed it..your OB/Gyne office.  Yep, we got kids swinging from the lamp shades all hyped up on gingerbread and moms of all ages trying to get seen before the dreaded deductibles start all over again like the new year.  It’s crazytown in my neck o’ the woods.

Working late on top of trying to get my own shopping tackled (no kidding, I just decorated my tree last weekend) has made for one tired sonographer but I digress..the show must go on.  I promise to deliver some seriously super-cute 3D images over the next few days so please stay tuned!

Most every year I typically have several couples who request that we write down gender and seal it instead of telling them during their scan. They wait for Christmas morning and open the envelope together to find out boy or girl.  Sweet idea!  However, in this day and age of never-ending technological advances in the field of medicine, your modern day parent-to-be doesn’t need the sonographer to determine gender any longer. New antenatal blood tests for genetic abnormalities can include gender and are offered somewhere around 11-12wks. Don’t get too excited just yet!  Your doc will not perform them for gender only and the tests are not made for that just happens to be a by-product of the true nature of the test.

That being said, I now have patients all the time who say they already “know” what they are having but still want to confirm it with ultrasound. I do laugh a bit here at that request. I tell them we can have a disagreeable baby but we can’t argue with genetics!


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Posted on November 30th, 2014 by

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and ate lots of turkey and dessert like I did!  Before the holiday, we had the experience of one unhappy mama! Let me expound..

I have my usual spiel that I deliver to patients when they come in for a 3D scan.  Like most other elective options in life, it’s a service.  You pay your money, the service is provided.  Now you may not be entirely happy with the results of the service (like the facial that left an oil slick behind) but you don’t get your money back. You may, however, receive a coupon for a free facial upon your next visit and 3D appointments work in a similar way.

What you are paying for, I typically communicate, is essentially the block of time on the ultrasound schedule for the use of the facility..the time, the sonographer and my experience/expertise required to perform the exam and use of the equipment.  We, and no one else on the planet, will ever guarantee that you will get the images you want. This is because we know obtaining the perfect images your best friend got are dependent on so many variables.  I’ve discussed this one before..fetal position, placental location and amniotic fluid volume are all make-it or break-it possibilities.

Baby can’t be facing your back or be plastered into the uterine wall or placenta. And an anterior placenta (one located on the front-side of your uterus) adds to the limitation so that if Baby faces up, the placenta is usually in the way. We need to see a good pocket of fluid in front of Baby’s face with no limbs or cord in front or blocking the face.  Also, the farther along you are the less likely we are to obtain great images.  This is because Baby starts to engage that head into the pelvis, Baby is growing bigger and fluid begins to naturally diminish a bit.  If we don’t get great images, we (and most other places) simply offer to have you come back to try again free of charge the following week.  This is pretty fair in my book. If you don’t go back, it’s your loss! don’t expect a refund. We recommend scheduling at about 27wks.

Is it possible to obtain great 3D images later in the third trimester?! Absolutely! We just know the chances become more slim the longer you wait. I’ve gotten beautiful images at 38wks! This baby was 33wks+ but mom had polyhydramnios, a condition where excess amniotic fluid develops. For this reason, she was scanned every week but it gave us many awesome photo opps!

SONY DSC 3D fetal face, 33wks


So, if you want it, go ahead and try it! Just go into the scan with some education. Know you may not get what you wanted but you should be able to go back and try again. It’s also a good idea to ask about a policy before you have it done!

If all the stars align, you’ll get some fabulous images of your baby like the ones above!

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Posted on November 27th, 2014 by

Happy Turkey Day to all of you expectant moms out there!  Today is a day for thankfulness for our blessings and to enjoy our families and all those whom we love.

Every once in a while I’ll scan a patient whose baby’s face is in a perfect position to see in 3D with a great pocket of fluid and no limbs or cord in the way. When I see this, it’s so hard not to play! I had just such a patient this week. We were able to get such cute pics and mom and dad were so happy..and thankful! ☺️ It’s just what the holiday is all about!!

She is about 28wks; see how cute she is below!






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