Early pregnancy scan

Please note, this page is printable by selecting the normal print options on your computer.

Q. How is Ultrasound used?
A. Ultrasound is the use of high frequency sound waves to produce an image.

Q. How safe is Ultrasound?
A. Diagnostic Ultrasound has been used widely in clinical medicine for many years with no proven harmful effects.

Q. Who does the scan?
A. Scans are performed by specially trained staff called Sonographers.

Q. What will the scan involve?
A. A gel will be applied to the skin on the lower part of your tummy. A small handheld probe (transducer) is moved over the gelled area by the sonographer. The room will be quite dark to allow the images to be seen on the TV screen and the sonographer will be quiet whilst she concentrates and undertakes the scan measurements. Once the measurements have been recorded the sonographer will show you your baby on the TV screen and explain what you are looking at.

Q. Do I need a full bladder?
A. Yes. Please drink 0.5 litres (1 pint) of water or squash one hour before your appointment and do not empty your bladder once you have started drinking. In some cases, it may be necessary to perform an additional internal scan (transvaginal scan) to help us get more detailed images. This will be done after your full bladder scan and we will ask you to go to the toilet to empty your bladder first as this scan is done with an empty bladder.

Q. What is the scan for?
A. To measure the baby and estimate how many weeks pregnant you are. If you are more than eight weeks pregnant this is an accurate calculation. To check the baby’s heartbeat and development.
To tell if you are having more than one baby. The scan is a happy experience for most people, but not everybody.

Q. What is the Nuchal Translucency (NT) measurement?
A. This is a measurement of the thickness of fluid in the back of the baby’s neck (NT) which is taken as part of the combined test for chromosomal abnormalities. The NT measurement combined with your age, weight, height, ethnicity and a blood test, can be used to calculate the risk of your baby being affected by Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21), Edward’s Syndrome (Trisomy 18) and Patau’s Syndrome (Trisomy 13). The NT measurement can be used for multiple pregnancies as well.  It is important that your GP or Midwife has discussed combined screening with you prior to the scan appointment so that you are able to make an informed decision. This will be documented on e-care. If this has not happened, or you require an interpreter to be able to make an informed decision, a member of the ANNB team will be called to see you.

Information is available in other languages from PHE at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/screening-tests-for-you-and-your-baby

Q. What can affect the quality of the image on the screen?
A. Your baby may be in a position which makes it difficult to see everything clearly. If you are above average weight, it is also often not as clear.

Q. Will I need to come back for another scan?
A. You will be offered an appointment for the 20-week fetal anomaly scan, but it is up to you if you want to have it or not. Your choice will be respected.

Q. What will happen if a problem is found, or suspected during the scan?
A. The Sonographer may ask for a second opinion, but the exact nature of the problem may not be clear at this stage. You will be given the chance to speak to a specialist midwife from the ANNB team to help you plan what to do next.

Q. Can I bring the family?
A. We welcome one adult only into the scan room to support you. This can be your partner, friend or other relative. Please note we do not allow children into the scan room at all. If you do need to
bring your children with you to the hospital, please ensure there is a responsible adult with you to look after them whilst you are having your scan. We want your scan experience to be as enjoyable as possible, but please remember the scan is an important test to check your baby’s development. The sonographer needs to concentrate and take detailed measurements of your baby which at this
stage is very small. Any excess conversation or noise can be distracting to you and to the sonographer.

COVID 19 UPDATE – Please note: Current guidance is that you should not bring children into the hospital at all unless absolutely necessary.

Q. Can I have a photo?
A. Yes, photos are available, either paper or film.

COVID 19 UPDATE – These are at no cost and 2 photos are routinely given at Dating and Anomaly scan. No recording equipment (audio or visual), is permitted during the ultrasound examination.

Further Information
Please be aware our appointment slots are very precious. If you are unable to attend for your appointment, please telephone us as soon as possible on the number below to enable us to rebook you and allocate your original appointment to another patient.

Ultrasound Department Reception: 01908 995402
Prenatal Screening Coordinator: 01908 243887 or 01908 660033 and bleep 1169
All telephones are operational on Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5.00am
Useful website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/dating-scanultrasound-10-11-12-13-weeks-pregnant/