Technology has made fascinating advances in medical practice and ultrasounds are no exception. However, contrary to popular belief, they are not a tool developed so that women can find out the sex of their baby. While that is a great benefit to expectant parents who “just have to know,” the true purpose of having an ultrasound is to make certain that your baby is doing well, to measure its growth and to help a healthcare provider make a decision if he or she suspects there is a problem. So when and why should you have an ultrasound? Here are 10 good reasons that can be found in The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy:

1. To determine the age of the pregnancy
2. To document that the baby is alive
3. To determine the position of the baby
4. To determine “normal” anatomical organs, usually after 18 weeks
5. To determine the position of the placenta
6. To determine the cause of bleeding
7. To determine whether you are having more than one baby
8. To document that the baby is in the uterus and not a fallopian tube
9. To measure amniotic fluid late in the pregnancy
10. To periodically watch the baby if you have a high-risk condition

There will be temptation for pregnant moms to get “keepsake” ultrasounds done in the mall for entertainment purposes. Not only are those ultrasounds not approved by the FDA but they could potentially miss an important diagnosis if they are not read or interpreted by a physician. The conditions listed above will give you legitimate reasons for requesting an ultrasound that can be done by a professional under the supervision of a doctor.

Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mom who knows what to do.