Make sure to read your appointment letter thoroughly before you attend.
Firstly, you will usually be asked to lie on a bed, pull up your top slightly and roll down your bottom half a little so that your tummy is easily accessible. The nurse or sonographer will usually give you a sheet of paper and tuck it in to your trousers slightly.
Next, the sonographer will apply some gel lubricant to your tummy and place a device on to your abdomen which is called a transducer. This sends high frequency sound waves in your abdomen, where your baby’s tucked away. These waves bounce off your baby and back to the computer to be translated into a picture, that’s what comes out as the white area of your scan.
You should be able to see your baby on the monitor as the sonographer does their checks.
You may be asked to attend your scan with a full bladder as this helps the ultrasound echoes to reach your womb, providing a better view of your baby.
Each hospital and NHS trust throughout the UK is different.
In England you will need to contact your local maternity unit to find out whether you need to attend your scan alone, or whether you can take someone with you to your appointment.Across Scotland, you can now choose one person to attend your appointments with you. In Wales and Northern Ireland, national guidance states your birth partner can come with you to two key scans, at around 12 and 20 weeks.
Dr Jo Mountfield Consultant Obstetrician and Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says:
“There are services which will only allow the woman herself to come for routine ultrasound scans. While this is disappointing, please be aware this is primarily for you and your baby’s safety and also to reduce the chance of our staff who undertake the scans being unwell. We understand these changes may be upsetting but please be assured NHS maternity services are doing all they can to take care of you and your baby.”
You will be asked to follow social distancing where possible. Wear a mask to your ultrasound appointment and sanitise your hands before/after.
The NHS offers pregnant women in the UK 2 routine scans at around 12 Weeks and 20 weeks.
The 12 week dating scan is important because it will determine what date your baby is due based on the baby’s measurements. All women will be offered their first scan between 8 – 14 weeks. In conjunction with your 12 week scan, you may also be offered a nuchal scan. This will tell you if you are at risk of having a baby with Downs Syndrome. The doctor will use the scan measurement, your age and a blood test to calculate your risk.
The anomaly scan is also offered to all women at 18-21 weeks. This scan checks for 11 physical conditions in your baby.This is a detailed scan which will be able to tell if your baby is developing properly - the sonographer can detect any problems or abnormalities with baby.
Most women will only need a total of two scans throughout their pregnancy, however, if there are certain complications or there is any history of birth defects in your family then you may be offered more.
It usually takes around 20-30 minutes for an ultrasound scan. The length of your son depends on whether the sonographer is able to get good views if your baby - sometimes baby may decide to lie in an awkward position or they may be moving around a lot.
If the sonographer is experiencing difficulties in getting a decent image, your ultrasound scan could take longer or it may have to be repeated at another time.
During your NHS anomaly scan at around 20 weeks the sonographer can determine the sex of your baby.
If you would like to find out sooner, there are private clinics which offer scans in order for you to find out your baby’s gender. There are also special 3D or 4D scans which show much clearer images than the scans you normally get in hospital. They give you a real insight into what your baby is going to look like when It’s born.
No. Ultrasounds are designed to be perfectly safe for you and your baby. There are no known risks to the baby or the mother from having an ultrasound scan and it shouldn’t cause any pain.
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