An early pregnancy scan or the dating scan is the first scan that is done to have a look at your baby after confirmation of pregnancy by a urine pregnancy test or by a blood test that measures the level of serum beta hCG .
Getting a dating scan done is important as it gives a lot of information with regards to
How is it done?
There are two ways of doing the scan.
At five weeks pregnant
The ultrasound doctor may see a small gestation (pregnancy) sac that looks like a black hole because it is filled with fluid. She will be able to identify where the sac has implanted in your uterus and rule out an ectopic pregnancy.
At six weeks pregnant
The yolk sac may be seen as a small white circle in the gestation sac. The yolk sac is attached to the embryo and contains nutrients to feed it while it is developing. You can hear your baby’s heartbeat at this stage of pregnancy.
At eight weeks pregnant
The developing embryo measures about 1cm to 2cm and should now be easier to see on the scan. The developing head and torso with tiny limb buds are now beginning to show up. It will grow very quickly, doubling in size every couple of weeks.
At 10 weeks pregnant
Your baby measures 3cm and starts looking more life-like, with the head, abdomen and limb buds clearly visible.
Because scans can be inconclusive and not all pregnancies are exactly the same, there are very strict guidelines for scans in early pregnancy. If there is any doubt whatsoever, the scan will be repeated in a week or two.
Try not to panic. Waiting for a follow-up scan can be worrying but remember that most pregnancies are successful. But in the unlikely event that your baby has a health problem, the information from the ultrasound can help your doctor determine how to give your baby the best outcome possible.
The ultrasound scan uses ultrasonic waves that travel across your body and reach the baby. This type of energy source is absolutely safe for you and your baby, unlike X rays.