You have missed your period and have taken a home pregnancy test. It’s positive! Now what?! You may be excited, scared, or angry. Your whole life might flash before your eyes as you contemplate what this means.
If I were sitting in front of you, I would say, “Take a deep breath, and let’s get an ultrasound to verify your pregnancy.” You might wonder, “Why do I need an ultrasound? My pregnancy test is positive. Doesn’t that automatically mean that I am pregnant?”
Generally speaking, yes. A positive pregnancy test is a strong indicator of pregnancy, but it does not necessarily guarantee that the pregnancy is viable. An ultrasound will help to verify a few things and actually diagnose a pregnancy.
When a limited OB ultrasound is performed, the medical professional is looking for three things:
- Is the pregnancy in the uterus?
- Is there a heartbeat?
- What are the fetus’ measurements?
An ultrasound gives valuable information. It tells:
- exactly how far along the pregnancy is, and
- if the pregnancy is viable, meaning that there is a heartbeat and the pregnancy is in the uterus.
This information cannot come from a pregnancy test, but it can be found through an ultrasound. Knowing this information is critical for making informed pregnancy decisions.
An ultrasound cannot predict that an entire pregnancy will be healthy or predict the health of the fetus in the first trimester, but it can verify that you are pregnant and how far along you are.
Keely Darnell, BSN, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. If you have any concerns, please speak with a healthcare provider.