Do I have to have an ultra sound?
Routeen ultra sound is not necessary. BUT, there is no way for us to know that everything is ok by how you 'feel'.
If you have a family history of anything abnormal or twins-then an Ultra sound is recommended. If I am concerned about anything, I recommend an ultra sound.
The Ultra Sound has not been proven to be totally safe, long term effects are still being studied.
But as of now, we do not know of any serious problems that a minimal time-ultra sound- can cause. I suggest that you use this as a tool for diagnosis if you or your care provider think that something might be wrong with the baby. Also, if we are not sure of your due date, an ultra sound is a good way to determine the due date.
When can they tell the sex of the baby?
After 18 weeks.
What does your practice recommend?
I do recommend a ultra sound if we do not have a known LMP (Last menstrual period), or if it was irregular. If you have a history of any losses, or problems, then I recommend an ultra sound.
In the first trimester the ultra sound is done for confirming a viable pregnancy, confirm the heart beat, measure the crown-rump length or gestational age, confirm a molar or ectopic pregnancy, and asses abnormal gestation.
During the second trimester you can be assessed for fetal malformation, including down syndrome, congenital malformations, structural abnormalities, confirm multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets) and verify dates and growth, confirm intrauterine death, (if the baby has died), if hydramnios or oligohydramnios (too much or too little amniotic fluid) and general see how well the baby is doing.
During the Third Trimester they often check for the following: Where the placenta is located, if you suspect that the baby has died (lack of movement) confirm the position of the baby, how well the baby is moving, and any uterine or pelvic abnormalities of the mom.