If you’re pregnant, you’ve most likely had an ultrasound where you’ve been able to see your unborn baby and your doctor has been able to look for things concerning your baby’s health and development.
A fetal echocardiogram is much like an ultrasound, except this procedure specifically takes a look at your baby’s heart and its function. This test uses sound waves to produce pictures of your baby’s heart and examine how well it’s working.
At Pediatrician Specialty Practices located in Federal Way, Washington, our team led by Nauman Ahmad, MD, FAAP, performs fetal echocardiograms to examine your baby’s heart closely. In this blog we explore why these tests are performed and what to expect from them.
Why is a fetal echocardiogram performed?
Not every woman who is pregnant is going to require a fetal echocardiogram. The following are some of the most common reasons a fetal echocardiogram is recommended:
- You have a family history of heart disease
- You’ve previously given birth to a child with a heart disorder
- You have a medical condition such as rubella or type 1 diabetes
- Your baby is at risk for a heart abnormality
- You’ve used drugs and alcohol during your pregnancy
By knowing if your baby has a heart condition before they’re born, we’re able to make a plan for how to treat it. A treatment plan could include treating the condition while your baby is still in the womb or treating it right after they’re born.
What to expect from a fetal echocardiogram
There is nothing that you have to do to prepare for a fetal echocardiogram. You can eat and drink like normal and you don’t have to worry about having a full bladder.
A fetal echocardiogram is performed much like an ultrasound. A special gel is applied to your abdomen and a special wand – called a transducer – is used to examine your baby’s heart. The wand is moved around your whole abdomen to get an adequate picture.
The whole test can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and you should experience no pain or discomfort.
After the procedure is finished, Dr. Ahmad can review the findings with you and make a plan for what your next steps will be. If a heart abnormality is detected, next steps could include medicines and procedures to treat your baby’s heart condition, fetal wellness assessments, nonstress tests, further echocardiograms, and genetic counseling.
If your unborn child needs a fetal echocardiogram, look no further than Dr. Ahmad and the rest of our team at Pediatrician Specialty Practices. To schedule an appointment with us, you can give us a call at 253-661-5939 or use our online booking tool today.