The process is not painful. When you have an abdominal ultrasound, the doctor will smear a clear gel on the skin of your abdomen to help the device pass smoothly over the skin and improve transmission of the sound waves. Some doctors warm the gel. Otherwise you might get a chilly sensation from the cold gel on your skin. The doctor usually applies some pressure as she moves the transducer device along your abdomen. The transducer transmits sound waves that create a picture of the baby inside. If you're ticklish, you might find yourself challenged during this procedure. Take a deep breath and try to relax!
A vaginal ultrasound is done with a wand-shaped probe covered with a latex sheath (like a condom). The doctor will apply some lubricant and gently insert the ultrasound into your vagina. She will move the device to form the picture she needs on the ultrasound screen. The procedure doesn't hurt, but you might find it uncomfortable in the same way you might find a pelvic exam uncomfortable. Again, relaxation and focus are key. And don't be afraid to tell your doctor if you need her to stop and give you a minute to breathe.
One of the best parts about having an ultrasound is actually seeing your baby while he's still inside you. For many women, this is a turning point during which they feel even more bonded to the life they're nurturing.
Reviewed 11/02 by Elizabeth Stein, CNM
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.