When a client has an unplanned pregnancy, we recommend scheduling a limited ultrasound. Sometimes we’re able to offer one on the spot.
Why is this so important? Several reasons:
- An early ultrasound gives you crucial information that you must have in order to consider your pregnancy options.
- It tells you if your pregnancy is viable.
- It accurately determines the gestational age of the baby.
- An ultrasound protects you if you are considering terminating your pregnancy.
- It protects your health from an unnecessary or inappropriate termination procedure.
- It protects you legally.
- It protects you financially from extra costs.
Let’s look at these one at a time.
An ultrasound gives you the information you need about an unplanned pregnancy.
A positive pregnancy test only detects the pregnancy hormones in your urine or blood. It doesn’t tell you the whole story. With an unplanned pregnancy, you have a lot of important decisions to make — about work or school, about telling your partner or family members, or about seeking an abortion. To make good decisions, you need all the facts.
Is your pregnancy viable?
Viable means “able to live,” so a viable pregnancy means one that is growing, and has a good chance of growing into a full-term baby. About 30% of pregnancies are not viable and end in a natural miscarriage. For a pregnancy to be viable, it has to implant correctly, develop correctly, and have proper support from your body.
Problems with Implanting
Some fertilized eggs never implant. These are usually called “chemical pregnancies.” A chemical pregnancy changes your hormones and gives you a positive pregnancy test, but it has no chance to grow. If your period is just a little late, or you haven’t missed a period yet, it may be too soon to tell if your pregnancy will implant or not. Many chemical pregnancies end with a slightly heavy or slightly late period. Some women with chemical pregnancies never knew they were pregnant at all.
Some pregnancies implant in the wrong place, like inside the fallopian tubes or in other parts of the abdomen. These are called “ectopic pregnancies,” and they can be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening. Any treatment for an ectopic pregnancy needs to be under a doctor’s ongoing care and supervision.
Problems with Development
Early pregnancies can also implant but fail to develop correctly. For example, sometimes a fertilized egg creates a gestational sac of fluid inside the uterus, but there is no baby growing inside it. This is called a “blighted ovum.” It gives all the symptoms of a normal pregnancy, but there is no chance of it growing to term.
Another developmental problem called “molar pregnancy” happens when the placenta or other pregnancy tissues grow out of control, like a tumor. This also needs to be treated by a doctor right away.
Other Pregnancy Problems
There are other situations where an early pregnancy may start out normally, but spontaneously end for no apparent reason. If your pregnancy has early signs of miscarriage, an ultrasound can detect them.
How far along are you, really?
Gestational age can be confusing, especially if you’ve never been pregnant before or this pregnancy is unplanned. You always start with a rough estimate based on the first day of your last menstrual cycle. In fact, if you schedule an appointment with us or with any OBGYN, one of the first questions you’ll hear is “what was the first day of your last period?”
Why Doctors Count Weeks From Your Last Period
You probably remember from health class that ovulation is supposed to happen about two weeks after your period. So why would you include those two weeks in counting how far along you are? It all comes down to a simple medical fact: your body can’t read a calendar.
Most women usually ovulate about two weeks after their period. But it is possible to get pregnant at any point during your cycle. Even if you’re taking birth control. Even if you used protection. On top of that, eggs and sperm have a wide range of fertility. The average is 24 hours for an egg and 5 days for sperm. But it’s possible for an egg to stay fertile for 48 hours and sperm to live up to 7 days. That adds up to over a week of possible fertility range.
Why it Matters
In the early stages, a pregnancy grows so fast that a one-week margin of error is huge. That’s why doctors start estimating how far along you are based on your last period – it’s the last point at which you can be pretty sure you weren’t pregnant.
But you don’t want to make decisions about your pregnancy options based on guidelines and estimates about what usually happens. You need solid information about how far along that pregnancy has actually developed. And in order to see that, you need an ultrasound.
An ultrasound protects you.
It protects your health.
The information you get from your ultrasound protects you from having an unnecessary procedure. And it tells you what procedure you need.
If your unplanned pregnancy is one of the 30% that is going to end naturally, then you don’t need to decide what to do. You need medical care and emotional support during the process. If you have an unusual, risky condition like ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy, you’ll know so you can get treatment right away.
If you are thinking about ending your pregnancy, what procedure you can have, and where, depends on your correct gestational age. Non-surgical abortions are only appropriate up to a certain point in the development of the pregnancy. After that, you’ll need a surgical procedure, and there are different types used at different stages of pregnancy. No reputable, licensed clinic would ever offer any type of abortion services without confirming that it’s appropriate for the patient.
It protects you legally.
Alabama state law requires that your pregnancy be confirmed by ultrasound before any clinic can offer abortion services. If you are considering terminating an unplanned pregnancy, you can’t skip this step.
That law exists to protect you so that no one will charge you for a termination on a pregnancy that isn’t really growing.
It protects you financially.
An ultrasound assessment is completely free at our clinic. It isn’t free at all clinics. We are a starting point to help you figure out what is going on with your body, what is going on with the pregnancy, and what options you actually have.
Most abortion clinics in Alabama are usually going to charge you around $150 up front, separate from fees for the actual procedure. That is considered a down payment at your first visit to cover the cost of the ultrasound. It is non refundable.
If they find that your pregnancy is not viable, you will not get that down payment back. If you find out that you need serious medical treatment for a dangerous condition, then you have already lost that down payment, on top of the other medical expenses you will need.
We’re Here to Help
All of our services here at the Pregnancy Test Center are free. Always. We are here to give you accurate, helpful information and discuss all your options so you can make the best possible decision for yourself and your pregnancy, without financial concerns or emotional pressure.
Have questions? Need an appointment slot? Give us a call at 205-979-0302, or click here to request an appointment online. Find out what you need to know about your pregnancy, and protect yourself. We’re always glad to see you. #NoJudgment, just #Love.