Early Pregnancy UltrasoundThe early pregnancy ultrasound is, for most women, one of the most exciting moments of their lives.So – what happens? First off, you’ll probably be asked to drink plenty of fluid, as an enlarged bladder will make it easier to scan the baby; later on in your pregnancy this will not be necessary. The whole procedure, sometimes called a pregnancy sonogram, is very relaxed and non-threatening, so you don’t need to be at all anxious about it. You lie on a bed beside the machine and lift up your clothes – so wear something loose. The procedure takes about 20 minutes and invloves a gel being smeared on your stomach so that the scanner can roll over it easily. It doesn’t hurt at all, although the gel might feel a bit cool on your tummy, and almost all mothers-to-be agree that early pregnancy ultrasound is such a fascinating experience that they hardly notice. If you can, it’s great to have your partner or a friend along to share in the excitement of seeing your baby for the very first time.Here is a great video about the early weeks of pregnancy and how to look after your own and your baby’s health at this really important time.
Timing of Early Pregnancy ScansThis can vary quite a bit depending on your local health provider but generally the first ultrasound will be between weeks 6 to 10 of your pregnancy.Second ultrasound scans tend to be from 10 to 14 weeks and are when more accurate estimate can be made of your likely delivery date.If you have a Nuchal Translucency (NT) Scan, this will be around 11 – 16 weeks. This is used to determine whether your baby might be likely to have Downs Syndrome.An Anomaly Scan, which is to check that your baby is developing normally, is sometimes offered as early as 18 weeks but many clinics feel this is a little early to get the most accurate results and recommend 20 weeks as the earliest time to scan for anomalies or irregularities.
What You See on the ScreenThe ultrasound monitor images aren’t always easy to interpret for those of us not used to seeing them but the scan operator will point out your baby’s head, heart, and limbs. The scan can be done by a radiographer, an ultrasonographer, an obstetrician, or a midwife. You should feel free to ask any questions you want about what is on the screen and they should be able to answer them fully.Further scans may be recommended after your first ultrasound if it was not possible to see everything clearly the first time, perhaps because of the position of the baby, or if the doctor suspects that there may be some risk to the pregnancy, or if there is more than one baby. You may also be offered a further scan within the last six weeks of your pregnancy to check the position of the placenta or to establish the baby’s exact position.Scans are usually confidence and awe-inspiring and they help you connect, often for the first time, with the tiny life you’re carrying inside of you…and suddenly you realisE.