When Should I Book My First Ultrasound?
Your first pregnancy is an exciting time and getting to see your baby at your first scan is equally as exciting. When you find out that you are pregnant you may be wondering when the best time is to get an ultrasound scan. Many people wait until they are around 12 weeks but there are many advantages of getting an early pregnancy scan done before this.
Early ultrasound scans can be carried out from 6 weeks onwards, as the heartbeat can first be seen at this stage. It’s advised that you wait at least 7 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period, in case you had a later ovulation that month to ensure that the sonographer can clearly identify a heart beat. Typically early pregnancy scans can take place between 7 – 12 weeks. More advanced scans can be done from 12 weeks onwards as more fetal anatomy can be seen when the baby is bigger.
Advantages of an Early Pregnancy Scan
There are many advantages of getting an early pregnancy scan done. These scans aren’t usually offered in public maternity hospitals, unless the patient is having complications or has a high risk pregnancy. Most patients will receive their first scan; the detailed anomaly scan, around 21 weeks. Some patients are lucky enough to receive a 12 week scan through their maternity hospital, but this is not offered by all maternity hospitals.
- An early ultrasound can confirm your pregnancy and also let you know how far along you are.
- It can confirm if your pregnancy is in the uterus or ectopic. An ectopic pregnancy is where the egg is fertilised in the Fallopian tube rather than the uterus. This needs to be dealt with immediately as it can pose a threat to the mother’s life.
- An early ultrasound has the ability to assess the viability of your fetus through detecting a heartbeat and calculating the beats per minute.
- A sonographer can measure your fetus and with that information can tell you your estimated date of conception and also be able to give you an expected delivery date. The accuracy of dating a pregnancy reduces the further along the pregnancy is. The best time to date a pregnancy is under 12 weeks.
- Statistics have shown that around 20% of pregnancies end during the first trimester. There are no other tests available to monitor the progression of your pregnancy as accurately as an ultrasound.
- The difference between monochorionic twins (twins sharing a placenta) and dichorionic twins (twins who each have their own placenta) can best be seen in the early stages of pregnancy. Establishing this can change the management of the pregnancy. Twins that share a placenta are at higher risk of complications than twins who have their own placenta.
Types of Early Ultrasounds?
There are two ways an early pregnancy scan can be performed:
The first test is the most common. It’s an ultrasound from on top of your tummy. A sonographer will rub gel over your abdomen and use a handheld device called a transducer or probe which sends sound waves into your abdomen. This in turn produces black and white images of your organs.
This procedure is also commonly performed during the very early stages of a pregnancy. It generally takes place when an ultrasound from on top of the abdomen doesn’t produce clear results. For this type of scan a probe is placed within the vagina, which produces very accurate and clear results. It’s important to note that this scan is perfectly safe for both the individual and the baby. It is also well tolerated by patients and is usually painless.
Who Should Book An Early Pregnancy Scan?
If you’re experiencing unusual illness, pelvic pain, lack of symptoms, unsure dates, bleeding or any other complications during the early stages of your pregnancy then it may be a good idea to book in for an early scan rather than wait. Many people want peace of mind that their pregnancy is healthy and safe so they will go for an early scan to make sure everything is progressing well. If there is a history of complications or miscarriages with previous pregnancies then it’s advised to get an early scan to monitor the early stages of the pregnancy.
There is never any harm getting an ultrasound earlier than offered to you by the public healthcare sector. It can put your mind at peace knowing that your pregnancy is progressing as it should. It can also help detect any issues related to the pregnancy that could put the baby or mother at risk.
If you’re looking to book an ultrasound then click on one of the links below. At The Ultrasound Suite we have a wide range of scans available to expecting mothers. All our scans are carried out by fully qualified and experienced sonographers using the latest equipment in ultrasound technology. Please feel free to check out the different options of scans that we offer in the first trimester: