Understanding Pregnancy Ultrasounds

A pregnancy ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images your healthcare providers can view on a computer monitor to give them information about your pregnancy. You might be wondering why a pregnancy ultrasound is necessary if you have not yet made a decision about your unexpected pregnancy. Ultrasound is beneficial because the images provide your medical team with important data, and this knowledge can give you the facts you need to make an informed decision about your pregnancy.

Types of Pregnancy Ultrasounds

Pregnancy ultrasounds include transabdominal, transvaginal, Level 2, 3D, doppler, and fetal echocardiography ultrasounds.

After a positive pregnancy test, you will likely receive:

Transabdominal ultrasound

Gel is placed on your abdomen, and a roller-like device (transducer) is moved over the gel on your abdomen. The transducer picks up soundwaves that produce images onto a computer screen.

Transvaginal ultrasound

A special, smaller transducer probe is lubricated with gel and gently placed into your vagina to obtain images. Transvaginal ultrasound is used primarily in early pregnancy.

Ways a Pregnancy Ultrasound Is Useful

To Determine Pregnancy Viability

Even if you have already decided upon abortion, you will need to know if your pregnancy is viable. A positive pregnancy test result tells you that the hCG pregnancy hormone was detected in your urine. However, it does not mean you have a viable pregnancy.

According to the March of Dimes, as many as half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage: 80% of those occur in the first trimester — or the first twelve weeks. So, after a positive pregnancy test result, you will need to confirm your pregnancy is viable by ultrasound. A viable pregnancy is one that is expected to continue and result in childbirth (if no other steps are taken).

If no fetal heartbeat is detected, you would not need an abortion but would be referred for medical treatment instead.

The location of your pregnancy also impacts viability. If your healthcare provider detects a heartbeat by ultrasound, but the pregnancy is located outside of your uterus (i.e., in the fallopian tube), your pregnancy is also not viable. An ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy implanted in the fallopian tube, is a medical emergency and requires immediate intervention.

The fetal heart rate also impacts the viability of your pregnancy. Research reveals that if an ultrasound detects a very low heart rate, called embryonic bradycardia, the rate of miscarriage is significantly higher. If embryonic bradycardia is identified during your ultrasound appointment, you will likely be asked to return in about a week to repeat the test.

To Determine How Far Along You Are in Your Pregnancy

An ultrasound can accurately measure how many weeks pregnant you are. You can’t count on using only menstrual dates for accuracy because many women experience period-like bleeding while they are pregnant.

If your pregnancy is unexpected, and you are still gathering information about how you will proceed, you will need to know how far along you are because your options will partly depend on that.

To Determine If You Have a Single Pregnancy or Multiple Pregnancy

An ultrasound can also give you a valuable indication that you might be carrying a single or multiple pregnancy.

Get the Answers You Deserve

If you have had a positive home pregnancy test or think you might be pregnant, contact our compassionate team at Willow Womens Center. We provide licensed professional medical care, including pregnancy testing and ultrasounds at no cost to you. Reach out today by calling 608-312-2025 or by using our online scheduler.


There Are so Many Different Pregnancy Tests! What’s the Difference?

You are wondering if you could be pregnant, so you go to the drugstore to pick up an at-home pregnancy test. But when you get there, it is overwhelming. There are so many to choose from! You do not want to waste money and buy one that is not accurate and then have to purchase another one. How can you tell which ones are best? In this article, we will discuss features of various at-home pregnancy tests and their accuracy so you can choose the best one for you.

Pregnancy Test Features

At-home pregnancy tests are designed to detect whether or not there is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine.

Most women want tests that can give them test results early, quickly, and accurately. Some features to  consider when choosing a home pregnancy test are listed below:

Pregnancy Test Strips

Some pregnancy tests are so basic they are sold in packages of 10-50 at a time. They are merely testing strips without any plastic covering. To test, you would urinate into a cup, dip the test strip into the urine, and then lay the strip on a flat surface until it is ready to be read. The results display will reveal a small “control pad” and a “result pad.” A line will appear on the result pad if your test is positive. Pregnancy test strips are the least expensive option, particularly if you need to test often.

Non-Digital Pregnancy Test Sticks

Pregnancy test sticks are similar to strips except that the tests are housed in plastic so you can hold the stick directly under a urine stream. Like pregnancy strip tests, the result window will display a line if you are pregnant. The common complaint about non-digital test sticks is that the results can be difficult to read, especially if the levels of hCG are low.

You can usually purchase them in packages of one to five tests so you can retest if you need to.

Digital Pregnancy Tests

Digital pregnancy tests display a clearly written “pregnant” or “not pregnant” answer in the result window. This takes away the uncertainty that can accompany a non-digital test as you try to discern if you see a faint positive line.

Digital pregnancy tests are most accurate because they reduce human error. They usually cost a little more than non-digital tests.

Early Pregnancy Tests

Some at-home pregnancy tests are “early pregnancy tests” because they can detect hCG in your urine up to six days before you miss your period.

To get the most accurate result, test with first-morning urine or concentrated urine, so the hCG levels are easier to detect if you are pregnant.

There are drawbacks to testing that early, though.

One – they can detect chemical pregnancies. A chemical pregnancy is a pregnancy that miscarries just after implantation. Many women never know they were pregnant when they experience them. However, now that at-home pregnancy tests can detect the pregnancy hormone so early, they can cause unnecessary anxiety and grief for women.

Two – early pregnancy tests have a higher rate of false-negative results because it is too early to detect the hCG hormone. You can usually purchase early pregnancy tests in multiples because of the higher chance you will need to retest after a false negative result.

There are many different brands of pregnancy tests to choose from and it could be overwhelming. Willow Womens Center can give you a definitive answer with our free pregnancy-related services. Since all tests are most accurate after you have missed your period, we suggest waiting until a few days after your missed period to schedule your appointment by calling 608-312-2025 or by using our online scheduler.

Get the Answers You Need

If your at-home pregnancy test was positive, or you just think you might be pregnant, contact Willow Womens Center by calling 608-312-2025 for a confidential appointment. Our caring support team will help you consider all your options, so you can make the informed decision that is right for you.


Unexpected Pregnancy Advice: Can I Get Through This?

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” – Cayla Mills

You have plans for your life, and an unexpected pregnancy is not one of them. Yet, it is interesting how life has a way of surprising us with unforeseen detours that ultimately teach us more about our strength and resilience than if everything fell into place according to our plans. We can even experience great joy from life’s unexpected plans.

After the shock of learning you are pregnant wears off, you begin to think about what to do next. Like most women, you may ask yourself, “Can I get through this?” The short answer is, yes. Yes, you can get through this!

Here is some unexpected pregnancy advice to empower you and encourage you that you are going to be okay.

Keep Positive People Close

You already have fears going through your mind, so the last thing you need is people around you who are adding to your worries.  It is not mean to set boundaries to protect your emotional health right now. In fact, it is good for you.

Do not listen to anyone who has an agenda for you. This includes anyone who wants you to make one decision over another about your pregnancy. You are the one who will live with the outcome of whatever your choice is for the rest of your life, so your decision needs to be the choice that is best for you, not someone else. Be very strong about this. You can do it.

Choose Positive Thoughts

Neuroscience research repeatedly reveals that our thoughts create new neural pathways in our brains. In other words, our positive thoughts rewire our brains to think positively and stimulate positive feelings. In the same way, our negative thoughts rewire our brains to think negatively and stimulate negative feelings.

Choosing positive thoughts will help you cope with an unexpected pregnancy. So instead of asking yourself, “How could I let this happen?” or telling yourself that all your plans are ruined, ask yourself what you can do to stay healthy, and focus on the one next step.

Take One Step at a Time

Before you start thinking about next year or five years down the road, try to only think about your one next step. Our advice for this next step is to get unbiased and experienced pregnancy support. The trained staff at Willow Womens Center can help you understand your pregnancy options. We will provide you with all the facts you need to make a well-informed decision. After your visit – take a deep breath and allow yourself some time to process each possible option.

Pregnancy Support Is Available

If you choose to parent, Willow Womens Center offers a Parenting with Love and Logic® Program to equip you with the skills you need. Stay tuned to find out more about the new Mentoring Program we will be launching in the Spring 2020 – this will be geared toward women who are experiencing their first pregnancy. For those who choose abortion, Willow Womens Center offers a post-abortion recovery program if you are struggling with your emotions afterwards. If adoption is your best choice, we can help you connect with different adoption agencies!

Contact us online today for a confidential appointment or by calling 608-312-2025.


4 Tips for Navigating an Unexpected Pregnancy With Your Partner

There is no doubt about it; an unexpected pregnancy is challenging. Navigating a relationship through it can add another layer of difficulty. But you are not alone. Nearly 50% of all pregnancies are unintended, so many other couples have also navigated an unexpected pregnancy together.

Here are four tips to navigate an unexpected pregnancy with your partner.

Keep your perspective.

An unexpected pregnancy is not the end of the world – although at first it may seem that way! You may discover that you are stronger and more resourceful than you ever imagined. It may strengthen your relationship, or it may reveal the weaknesses. Either way, it is a good thing.

Also, you did not become pregnant by yourself, so do not allow anyone to assign sole responsibility to you or heap shame onto you. An unexpected pregnancy takes two people.

Tell your partner you are pregnant.

Telling your partner you are pregnant makes it all feel real – and scary. Some women tell their partner when they suspect they might be unexpectedly pregnant, and some wait until after their pregnancy is confirmed. This is your personal decision and also depends on your relationship.

It is never a good idea to communicate life-changing news by phone or text. Talk with your partner face-to-face during a calm time when you have a chance to process the news together. Instead of saying, “I’m pregnant,” say, “We’re pregnant.” This verbiage is a reminder to your partner that he had an active role in your pregnancy.

Your safety is a top priority, so if you believe your partner will react angrily, tell him about the pregnancy in a public place or with a trusted friend.

Give one another space to process the news.

Your partner will probably express a combination of surprise and shock just as you may have felt when you discovered you were pregnant. Try not to take his initial reaction personally if it is not as supportive as you hoped. Give him space to think about what you have said. Then begin to discuss your options.

Research all your options with an experienced options counselor.

You may have an initial thought about how you want to proceed with your unexpected pregnancy. Still, it is crucial to thoroughly research your pregnancy options with an experienced options counselor before you make a decision.

  • Parenting: Parenting is the choice to continue your pregnancy and raise your child. It is a decision that is separate from your relationship decision. There are many resources available to single parents.
  • Adoption: If you are not ready to be a parent, but you are also not comfortable with abortion, adoption can be the right choice for you. As the birth parent, you choose if your adoption is open, closed, or a combination. You can also select the adoptive family to raise your child in a manner with which you are most comfortable.
  • Abortion: Abortion ends the pregnancy. Medical and surgical abortions are options depending on your health and stage of pregnancy.

Ultimately, you are the one who will live with the outcome of the choice you make. Make your decision carefully, trust your gut, and resist anyone’s attempts to coerce you into one option over another.

Support is Available

Willow Womens Center provides confidential and compassionate pregnancy support. We have licensed medical professionals and experienced advocates to help you consider your options and assist you with some of the necessary resources you may need. Make an appointment today by calling 608-312-2025.


When Is an Ultrasound Most Beneficial?

You have just learned you are pregnant. You did not expect it, and you never thought you would be wrestling with such a big decision. Now what? Where do you start looking for resources and accurate, unbiased answers to your questions?

Willow Womens Center will help you find the answers to your questions. We will walk with you, one step at a time, amidst the tremendous stress of an unexpected pregnancy. One of those steps will be an ultrasound, provided by our licensed medical professionals at no cost.

What is an Ultrasound?

A pregnancy ultrasound is a safe medical test that creates images using sound waves. These images supply important facts to help you make informed decisions about an unexpected pregnancy.

Why an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is an important follow-up after you have a positive pregnancy test because this test alone does not confirm a viable pregnancy. You can have a positive pregnancy test along with a nonviable pregnancy. A pregnancy test tells you that the hCG pregnancy hormone has been detected in your urine, but only an ultrasound will tell you if the pregnancy is viable or not. It is crucial for you to have this information before making a decision about an unexpected pregnancy.

An ultrasound also determines an accurate date of conception. That means you will know how far along you are in your pregnancy. If your pregnancy is unexpected, and you are considering abortion, this is critical information to have as you make an educated decision.

Ultrasound Timing

A pregnancy ultrasound should be performed no earlier than six weeks after the first day of your last period. This ensures that your pregnancy is far enough along to provide accurate and useful information.

Sometimes, even if you have a viable pregnancy, the ultrasound does not detect it. The most common reason for this is that it was too early to detect. When this happens, you can make an appointment in another week or two for a follow-up ultrasound.

There are several reasons why a viable pregnancy would not be detected on ultrasound:

  • The pregnancy is too early to detect
  • Conception occurred later in your menstrual cycle
  • Mistaken last missed period date
  • Larger abdomen
  • Tipped uterus

The last thing you need right now is to add to your stress by having to face more uncertainty and waiting after an inconclusive ultrasound. So, be sure to schedule your pregnancy ultrasound appointment at least six weeks or longer after the first day of your last period when the ultrasound is most beneficial.

Get Reliable Support

Call (608) 312-2025, and make an appointment with Willow Womens Center today. We understand that you can feel bombarded with information, facts and conflicting advice when you are facing an unexpected pregnancy. Our compassionate advocates and licensed medical professionals are available to answer your questions in a judgment-free environment. We are committed to empowering you, so you can feel good about making an informed decision.