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Your Guide To Early Pregnancy Ultrasound Scans

The first few weeks of pregnancy are different for every woman, but the time between taking a pregnancy test and going for your first scan can feel never-ending. If you, like many women, want reassurance that your pregnancy is progressing as it should be, then you might choose to have an early pregnancy scan. In this blogpost article we’ll help you to understand what happens during an early pregnancy ultrasound scan, what your sonographer will be able to see, and what you can hope to learn.


When Can You Book an Early Pregnancy Scan?

You can book an early pregnancy scan at our clinic 5 weeks from the first day of your last missed period (when you are around 5 weeks’ pregnant). At our clinic we offer transvaginal scans, which allow our sonographers to capture images in higher resolution, with closer access to your uterus and ovaries than an abdominal scan. This gives you reassurance that you’ll be given the most accurate information about the development of your pregnancy.


How Long Does a Pregnancy Ultrasound Appointment Last?

Your appointment at our clinic will be scheduled for 30 minutes. This gives your sonographer the time and opportunity to talk you through the process; to ensure you’re comfortable throughout, they might encourage you to empty your bladder before they begin the scan.

Once you’re lying back in the examination chair, your sonographer will insert a slim probe into your vagina. The probe emits high-frequency sound waves to create images from inside your uterus, and should not cause you any discomfort.


What Can Be Seen During Your Early Pregnancy Scan?

Your sonographer will be looking for a viable pregnancy, and checking if there is more than one embryo. They will also be able to see whether the embryo is implanted in the correct place (thus ruling out an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo is developing in the Fallopian tubes). Your sonographer will also be able to detect cardiac activity (a heartbeat) from as early as 6 weeks’ gestation.

Your sonographer will take images and measurements to help confirm (along with the date of your last period) how many weeks’ pregnant you are. These measurements and images are incredibly helpful, as they can provide you with valuable insights into your pregnancy timeline, and will help to lay the necessary foundations for your prenatal care.


When Will You Typically Need Your Next Scan?

If there is no cause for concern during your early pregnancy scan, you'll be invited back for a Nuchal Translucency Scan when you are around 12 weeks' pregnant. This is to assess the likelihood of Down's syndrome and other chromosomal conditions in your child. At this scan, the sonographer can also look at the likelihood of other foetal conditions.


What If the Scan Delivers Unexpected News?

While we hope that your pregnancy scan will deliver positive news, it is not uncommon for sonographers to detect certain problems during early pregnancy. These can include (but are not limited to) the following scenarios:

  • Discovering an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo is growing in the Fallopian tubes.
  • A visible embryo, with no heartbeat. This can sometimes be referred to as a missed miscarriage.
  • No visible embryo, but a visible sac. In this scenario your sonographer might invite you for a further scan within two weeks to determine whether the pregnancy is viable.

It can be a shock to receive information you weren’t expecting, and it’s totally understandable if you need some time to process what’s happening. While your sonographer will be able to answer any questions you might have during the scan, you can always follow up and have a further discussion at a later time.


Book Your Early Pregnancy Scan

If you would like to visit our clinic for an early pregnancy scan, please call 020 7244 4200 or book an appointment online.