Growth Scan During Pregnancy – Everything You Need To Know

Growth Scan During Pregnancy

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Diagnostic tests and scans usually go hand in hand with pregnancy. However, most scans occur way before your third trimester. So, when your doctor recommends a growth scan in the third trimester, anxiety is bound to creep in. While your concerns aren’t unwarranted, it may be necessary for you to undergo a growth scan during pregnancy.

Read our post below to understand why you need to undergo a growth scan, and what purpose it serves.

What Is A Growth Scan During Pregnancy?

A growth scan is an ultrasound scan that determines whether your baby’s growth is normal. Doctors typically recommend it for women during the third trimester of pregnancy; one of the reasons it is also a fetal growth scan [1].

[ Read: Fetal Echocardiography ]

What Is The Purpose Of A Growth Scan?

A growth scan in pregnancy is performed to provide your doctor with useful information about fetal growth and your pregnancy [2]. It helps the doctor:

  • Check your baby’s overall growth.
  • Check the volume of your amniotic fluid.
  • Determine the final position of the placenta.
  • Determine the fetal position.
  • Check baby’s weight close to your estimated delivery date [3].

[ Read: Is Ultrasound Safe During Pregnancy ]

Who Needs A Growth Scan?

You may need a growth scan in, (usually your third trimester), for various reasons [4]. Some of these reasons include:

  • If you have had complications in your previous pregnancies, your doctor may perform additional scans to monitor the fetal health. Pregnancy complications can mean health risks for you and the unborn fetus. If you had a health problem before you became pregnant, it could lead to pregnancy complications. You may even experience medical problems during pregnancy. Accidents or injuries can also lead to pregnancy complications. In such cases, doctors may opt for a late pregnancy growth scan to keep a tab on health problems that can arise due to pregnancy complications [5].
  • Pregnancy complications can also arise due to the placental position. Placenta praevia means the placenta is laying low in the womb. It can block the cervix and make vaginal delivery difficult or impossible. Placental abruption is when the placenta breaks away from the uterine wall. If you experience either of the two conditions, your doctor will monitor your pregnancy and fetal health for the rest of your term. A growth scan in the last few weeks of your pregnancy may be essential to determine your baby’s health [6].
  • Many a time women develop diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). It is a serious condition, and if you don’t manage it well, it can cause pregnancy complications. A growth scan helps your doctor determine if there is a problem with your pregnancy due to gestational diabetes. Your baby can suffer from excess birth weight, which may mean a C-section delivery for you. Your child can have respiratory problems, a preterm birth and low sugar at birth. These are just some of the risks to your baby due to gestational diabetes [7]. With the help of a growth scan, your doctor can determine if your pregnancy or baby has any problems due to your gestational diabetes [8].
  • Women may develop high blood pressure during pregnancy (gestational hypertension). Whether you suffer from high blood pressure before your pregnancy or gestational hypertension, both conditions can cause pregnancy complications. In case you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, your doctor will monitor your baby’s growth. And, a growth scan can help your doctor check for fetal growth abnormalities and complications [9].
  • Other than gestational diabetes or hypertension, you may suffer from other medical conditions as well. You can develop them during your pregnancy or already suffer from them. You may develop anemia, infections, depression and other anxiety disorders during your pregnancy [10]. If you suffered from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), thyroid disease, seizures, asthma, heart disease or liver problems before you became pregnant, your doctor would keep a tab on fetal growth. A growth scan proves more than useful in such cases [11].
  • If your doctor feels that your abdominal measurements are normal, then he may recommend a growth scan simply to check your baby’s growth. The doctor will also measure the fundal height. Fundal height is the distance from the top of your uterus to your pubic bone. It should correspond with your pregnancy in weeks. For instance, if you are 22 weeks pregnant then your ideal fundal measurement is 22 cm. If there is a discrepancy in this measurement, it can indicate slow or rapid fetal growth. It can also mean other problems with the pregnancy such as too little or excess amniotic fluid, changes in fetal positions that are not ideal or uterine fibroids. A growth scan may be then necessary if the fundal measurements indicate problems with fetal health [12].
  • Your fundal height can indicate fetal growth restriction or intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR); both indicate low fetal weight or abnormal fetal growth rate. Your doctor may then confirm it through an ultrasound. If the ultrasound results indicate that the fetal growth is not optimum, your doctor is likely to perform a growth scan (or more than one) as your pregnancy progresses towards the end of your term [13].

[ Read: Early Pregnancy Scan ]

  • Multiple pregnancies can lead to more risks or complications. A growth scan in the third trimester of your pregnancy can help the doctor ascertain if there is any cause for concern [14].
  • You begin to experience less fetal movements during your third trimester. If it persists, your doctor may perform a growth scan to check if everything is all right with your baby [15].
  • You have a fetal breech position. Breech means fetal bottom-down position. It is not an ideal birth position, and you may need to undergo a C-section. But, your doctor will try to change the position of your baby to head-down. If an earlier ultrasound scan revealed the breech position, your doctor might recommend another growth scan towards the end of your pregnancy to check the position of the fetus and the placenta [16].

[ Read: Transvaginal Scan During Pregnancy ]

Your doctor may perform a growth scan for various reasons during your pregnancy. So, if you have any concerns or questions about your internal growth scan during pregnancy, do not hesitate to ask your doctor. Did you have a growth scan in your third trimester? Tell us here.