Your Parenting Info Sign Up

Six Ways to Make Ultrasounds Less Uncomfortable

by Jane Wangersky | August 13th, 2013 | Pregnancy

ultrasoundYou’ll probably undergo at least two ultrasounds during your pregnancy, once between 10 and 13 weeks, then later between 18 and 22 weeks. If you’re carrying multiples or have a history of problems, there’ll be more. Though ultrasound is safe and not painful, it’s not exactly comfortable either. You’ll have to fill your bladder, then lie on your back while the tech puts gel on your bare stomach and goes over it thoroughly with a handheld transducer. So, for about 20 minutes, you’ll be getting your full bladder poked, gently but often, and you won’t be able to get up and go to the bathroom.

There’s no way to make it fun (except for the part where you get to see your baby), but through experience I’ve learned a few ways to cut down on the discomfort.

  1. Don’t overdo it filling your bladder. You’ll probably be told to drink about a quart of water two hours before the test. A full bladder is necessary for a clear image — but this does not mean that filling up on beverages and holding it all in for six hours beforehand will make things even clearer. You’re going to be uncomfortable, but you don’t have to be in pain.
  2. Test to see how much you can hold for how long. If you start to feel pain, or to leak (likely if you’ve already had a baby) after a certain point, you’ll know you shouldn’t drink that much or wait that long. Though you should follow the directions you’ve been given as closely as possible, you also need to make allowances for what you know about your body. I’ve had perfectly good results by drinking my quart just one hour before the ultrasound.
  3. Make it easy on yourself in other ways. Get someone else to drive you to your appointment, if you can. Cut down as much as possible on the distance you’ll have to walk; you know what it’s like walking any distance with a baby bump and a full bladder. If you can spare the time, you may even want to spend the last hour right in the building where you’re having the test — you can sit in the lobby or the waiting room and read or do paperwork.
  4. You’re probably expecting the gel on your stomach to be cold, but recently staff have started warming it up. This is considerate, but it can sometimes get a little too warm. Of course, if anything actually hurts, you should say so.
  5. If bladder control is a real issue for you, there are temporary remedies, some of them available over the counter — but, of course, ask your doctor first.
  6. One last note — make sure you have all your paperwork.You don’t want to be waiting, with your full bladder, while the staff calls your doctor’s office . . . which might not even be open.
  1. […] even a couple of glasses of wine a week — she’s given us one more tip to pass on about making your ultrasound a better experience. Drinking two liters of water before the test, instead of just one, can raise the level of your […]

Comments on Six Ways to Make Ultrasounds Less Uncomfortable