What is Early Pregnancy Scan ?
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 .
Why is Early Pregnancy Scan done ?
Getting a dating scan done is important as it gives a lot of information with regards to
- Checking if the embryonic sac is embedded inside your womb.
- To rule out an ectopic gestation (a condition in which the pregnancy sac grows outside the womb, most commonly in the fallopian tube )
- The dating scan would show if you’re expecting a singleton or twins
- To determine the reason for any spotting or bleeding that you may have
- he scan at this stage is also used to predict your due date. The point of the scan is to work out how many weeks pregnant you are. This is especially more relevant if your cycle has been irregular or if you have been on the pill. Working out the due date from the LMP won’t work. The dating scan would then help give you a corrected EDD which will then be used for all future references to determine the actual stage of pregnancy
- The scan can check if your baby’s heart is beating regularly. This usually starts from about 6 weeks of pregnancy. Listening to your baby’s heartbeat for the first time can be a very overwhelming experience. Many women say that it is similar to the thunder of galloping horses.
How is it done?
There are two ways of doing the scan.
Transvaginal scan (TVS)
- if your doctor wants you to have a scan earlier than eight weeks of pregnancy, you’re likely to have a transvaginal scan. In these early weeks of pregnancy, your baby is too small and low in your abdomen to be picked up by an abdominal ultrasound scan.
- A vaginal scan is done by introducing a probe into your vagina. It can pick up a better image of your baby.
- You might feel awkward and uncomfortable at the idea of a TVS but the more you relax, the easier it will be for the doctor to insert the probe.
How You Prepare
When you go for your scans it is a good idea to wear loose comfortable two-piece clothing.
-If you are having a transvaginal ultrasound you will need to empty your bladder first. If you are having an abdominal ultrasound you will need to have a full bladder so it’s best to drink lots of water before you arrive.
What is the process of Early Pregnancy 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.
Results/ Post Procedure
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.
Will more scans affect my baby? NO!
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.