OBJECTIVE: Ultrasound screening in the second trimester is widely used in maternal health care. To secure the pregnant woman's autonomy, it is essential to obtain information relating to her understanding and wishes as a starting point for the provision of information. The aim of the study was to explore the pregnant woman's background knowledge, expectations, experiences, and acceptances of second trimester ultrasound screening. DESIGN: Five-hundred consecutive, unselected pregnant woman, of gestational age between 16 and 20 weeks were asked to fill in a questionnaire containing defined and open ended questions. RESULTS: Approximately 70% of the women recruited had undergone a pregnancy-related ultrasound examination previously. Ninety percent answered that they had received information, either from the family doctor or as written material from the hospital (or both), concerning the purpose of the examination. Literature/newspaper/TV, family and friends played an important role as sources for general information. The pregnant women wished to undertake the ultrasound examination to ensure that the fetus was alive, healthy and without any malformation. Few answers were clinically irrelevant. The womens' expectations were fulfilled in 96% of cases, 86% felt 'more secure' after the examination while 2% did not have their expectations fulfilled. Only 0.8% felt more insecure after the examination. The vast majority of both pregnant women and their partners reported a positive experience from the event. CONCLUSION: Pregnant women have a good knowledge of ultrasound examination although the quality of information could be improved. Expectations are fulfilled and are clinically relevant. The acceptability and experiences of the examination are very high.
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