The first few weeks of a pregnancy can be a joyful time; filled with excitement and hope for the future. But for some women, they can also be a time of worry and stress.
Whether you have a medical reason for needing early pregnancy scans or you simply want to put your mind at rest, the services and facilities you need are all available from just six weeks at The Portland Hospital.
Some mothers will wait as long as 12 weeks before having their first scan, but a range of checks and tests can be carried out far earlier than that. If you have any concerns about the health of your baby, a doctor or midwife might recommend an early ultrasound dating scan.
Available from around six weeks, the first ultrasound scan is usually carried out in order to determine the expected delivery date of your child. A vaginal scan at six weeks can detect a pregnancy and a foetal heartbeat. However, mums-to-be usually need to wait until week eight or nine of a pregnancy to undergo an abdominal ultrasound scan.
Certain developmental and congenital health issues can be picked up by an early scan. A sonographer or consultant takes a range of measurements and images of the embryo - and the entire pelvic region - in order to identify potential problems and date the pregnancy.
What happens during an ultrasound scan?
In most cases, a sonographer will carry out your scan. However, if complications are suspected, a consultant might take the lead. The ultrasound room will be dimmed to enhance the images of your baby. You’ll lie on a special couch, and you’ll be asked to lower your trousers or skirt to reveal your abdomen.
A special ultrasound gel will be applied to your tummy to ensure that the handheld scanning device passes over your entire abdomen smoothly. This device will then send sound waves into your abdomen and then pick them up when they’re bounced back, and it is these reflected sound waves that are then turned into an image you can see on the screen.
Ultrasound scans do not hurt and are perfectly safe for you developing baby. The sonographer or consultant will carefully examine your baby as much as possible at this early stage, which will usually take around 20 minutes
The first ultrasound scan you have will probably be a joyful and memorable occasion. This is why you will be encouraged to share it with a partner, friend or relative.
What does an early pregnancy scan look for?
Early pregnancy scans are offered to mothers-to-be as a matter of course. In most cases, they are used to calculate an accurate due date and to ensure the baby is growing normally. However, there are other reasons for an early scan, including:
● To check for multiple foetuses
● To check that baby is in the correct position in the womb
● To check other pelvic organs eg ovaries
It is important that you fully disclose the relevant details of your medical history. If you have a history of pregnancy-related problems, or if you suffer from a condition that makes having a baby risky, your doctor or midwife might recommend having an ultrasound scan earlier than normal.
Having an early pregnancy scan is part and parcel of having a baby, but there are times when scans need to take place as quickly as possible. Whether you are looking for peace of mind or have a history of pregnancy-related health issues, having a scan before the 10-week mark will enable your healthcare providers to either put your mind at rest - or plan the next steps of your care.
Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by The Portland Hospital - the only private hospital in the UK dedicated exclusively to the care of women and children. For more information, please visit – www.theportlandhospital.com
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