During pregnancy, the majority of women and their partners look forward to the scans. It is a chance to see your baby and it gives you both a chance to start bonding with your baby too.
Scans in early pregnancy are not usually performed for reassurance or for dating unless agreed with a consultant at the unit where you are due to book. This is due to a high demand for the use of the service. The first time most parents-to-be get the chance to see their baby is at the 12 week scan, and for many it helps to make the pregnancy feel more ‘real’.
The ‘12 week scan’ can actually be performed any time between around 8-14 weeks. The main aims of the scan are to date the pregnancy, which will give you your estimated due date, and to check for any major problems with baby, which will hopefully provide you with some reassurance. Having a scan in pregnancy is usually a happy event and we know that it can be a very nervous time for parents to be.
The sonographer will also measure the thickness of the fluid at the back of your baby’s neck. This measurement will be combined with blood test results to give you a risk of your baby being affected by either Downs Syndrome or similar genetic problems.
It is important to note that a low risk does not give you the ‘all clear’ and that a high risk does not mean that your baby is affected. It just gives you the chance to get further tests if need be.
The sonographer will carefully examine your baby's body. At this point of the pregnancy they won't be able to determine gender for you.
Having the scan doesn’t hurt, but the sonographer may need to apply slight pressure to your bump so that they get the best views of the baby. A scan usually takes around 20 minutes, although it can take longer if your baby is lying in an awkward position or moving around a lot. Our top tip is to have a bit of chocolate before you go in as this may get baby moving. Also remember a full bladder gives a clearer scan result.
The dating scan is offered to all women, but you don't have to accept it. Your choice will be respected if you decide not to have a scan, and your antenatal care will continue as normal. You'll be given the chance to discuss it with your maternity team before making your decision.
Don't forget to take some coins with you if you'd like a copy of your scan. Most UK based hospitals charge for scan photos so don't miss out by not being prepared.
We have found that the first scan is such a magical moment. If you're a parent already weigh up the pros and cons of taking an older sibling with you. It can be such a beautiful moment to share.
These are just a few tips and things you should expect. Please do share eon our social media platforms if you think of any we should add!