During pregnancy, you will be offered at least two routine ultrasound scans. This article will help you make an informed decision about whether to have them.
- What is an ultrasound scan?
This is a type of scan that uses sound waves to create a picture of your baby while it is still inside your womb.
- Why should I consider one?
A ‘dating’ scan around the 12th week of pregnancy will help your doctors check your baby’s size, assess more accurately how many weeks pregnant you are, and give you a more accurate estimated date of delivery. Scans will also help your doctors identify at an early stage if you are expecting multiple babies. An ‘anomaly’ scan during the 18-21st weeks of pregnancy will help your doctors check your baby for any physical deformities. Your sonographer/doctor will be able to tell you the sex of your baby during this scan if you want to know in advance. Ultrasound scans also help doctors check the position of your baby and placenta , and see if your baby is growing normally (particularly if you are expecting multiple babies)
- Who will do it?
A sonographer/doctor will perform this test. To find out more about the role of the sonographer, check our article Who’s Who on your Antenatal Team.
- How is an ultrasound scan done?
You will be asked to come for the scan with a full bladder, so make sure you drink plenty of water and do not pass urine for at least 2-3 hours before the test. Your sonographer/doctor will ask you to lie comfortably on your back in the scanning room, and some lubricating gel will be applied to your tummy. The scanning device will then be passed over your stomach several times, and the reflecting sound waves will create a picture of your baby on the TV screen in the room. Ask your sonographer/doctor to explain the image to you if you cannot understand what you see, and don’t forget to ask your partner to join you so you can both see the first pictures of your unborn baby together.
- Are there any risks?
Ultrasound scans are painless and there are currently no known risks to you or your baby from doing an ultrasound scan at any stage of pregnancy.