Preparing Moms for Their First Ultrasoundby Elizabeth MacDonald
First time moms can be full of questions before their first ultrasound. Their nerves and anxiety are both on high alert, alongside of the excitement they are feeling. While you perform ultrasounds numerous times a day, it is a first for each of these new mothers. Before squirting the jelly on their abdomens, take a minute to address anything each woman may be wondering.
Preparing Moms for Their First Ultrasound
Over The Phone Information
Provide your receptionist with a list of information to read to patients over the phone when they schedule an ultrasound appointment. This information should include:
- What you would like to have your patient wear, if a gown is not needed. (Loose fitting clothes, etc)
- Asking her to arrive with a full or empty bladder, depending on what trimester she is in.
- Asking her to have any paperwork filled out prior to arriving.
- Encouraging her to write down any questions she may want to ask so she doesn’t forget them during her appointment.
Prior to Beginning the Ultrasound
As your patient gets settled, ask her if she has any questions for you. Typically, moms will be nervous to ask things, so you should have a quick informational speech prepared. By walking through the entire process with her, you are creating a relaxing atmosphere in which she feels connected to you. The more you present her with up front, the more she will understand what she sees on the screen. This makes the entire experience more enjoyable!
Begin by telling her what type of ultrasound she will be having. If it is a trans-vaginal ultrasound, allow her to undress and then come back in to talk. Show her the wand, explain what it will feel like and why her bladder needs to be full. Depending on how far along she is, discuss what she should see and if she will be able to hear a heartbeat today. Tell her what you will be measuring and what you are looking for.
If she is farther along and able to do an abdominal ultrasound, you will still want to talk her through everything. Tell her that you’ll be looking at her ovaries, uterus, cervix, the baby, the placenta, etc. You can go into as much detail as the mom wants to know, but remind her that you’ll be able to explain more as you show her during the ultrasound.
Remember that most moms are terrified there will be no heartbeat or baby on the screen at their first ultrasound. Some may be extremely emotional, others will want on and off the table as quickly as possible. Try to read your patient’s demeanor and gain her trust. Offer a recording of the baby’s heartbeat and pictures if everything is as it should be. If any problems are found, bring the doctor in or explain that the images will be sent to her doctor for further reading. Even in this situation, offer to record a present heartbeat, as it may be the only time she has the opportunity to do so.