It's officially known as the 'dating scan' because it's used to pinpoint your baby's due date. It's also a bit of a moment. That's because it's likely to be the 1st time you 'see' your baby whee! So in love, it's unreal!
Why would I have a dating scan?
They will also check that anatomically everything is where should be. Then you get your amazing pictures and you can tell the world! Dating scans are offered at some point between 8 and 14 weeks, with most of them happening between 11 and 14 weeks. If you've had fertility treatment, have a history of miscarriages or are in pain or bleeding during the first weeks of pregnancy, you may be offered an early scan before this routine dating scan.
5 week dating scan
But, assuming your pregnancy is healthy, you'll still have the dating scan at round about the week mark. The scan is done externally by rolling a device over your tummy unless your womb is very deep in your pelvis or you're very overweight, when it may be thought better to offer you a trans-vaginal scan instead.
You'll be asked to arrive with a full bladder. The scan itself will take about 15 to 30 minutes but you may need to hang about for a while in the waiting room beforehand — which can be tricky when you've just drunk all that water! But don't be tempted to skip the water drinking for that reason.
It's best to wear trousers or a skirt and a top, rather than a dress, as once you're in the dimly lit room, you'll be asked to lie on your back on a couch and adjust your clothes to expose your bump. Then the sonographer will put some gel on the skin of your tummy be ready: Once the gel's on, the sonographer will place the transducer — which looks a bit like a computer mouse or a small paint roller — onto your bump and move it around, allowing the high-frequency sound waves produced by the transducer to bounce off your belly and create a picture on the sonographer's monitor.
As the transducer gets to work, a black-and-white image of your baby will appear on the monitor that the sonographer is looking at.
Your pregnancy and baby guide
Often, you can see the screen too, or it'll be turned towards you after a few moments — but not always. And, if the pregnancy is progressing well, you'll also see a clear heartbeat. Costs for these vary, and aren't always flagged up in advance, so do make sure you take some cash with you.
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Your partner or another close relative will always be welcome to come with you but it's totally up to you, of course. Most mums-to-be would probably say it's a good idea to have some company, especially if you're anxious about the scan. Private providers may offer this earlier, however. If you fancy having fun predicting your baby's sex yourself, there are several theories you can try out once you have your week scan photo.
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What will the dating scan involve? This can be a bit uncomfortable if you have to wait with a full bladder but it does put your uterus in a better position for scanning. The process will involve lying back on a bed, with gel applied to your belly. The sonographer will then use a transducer device which uses ultrasound to produce an image of your baby inside the womb to a small display screen next to you.
What is the purpose of the dating scan?
The scan will usually last for around 20 minutes. This will be a lot more accurate than working it out just using the date of your last period.
Most units will offer you a screening test at the same time. If screening tests show a lower risk, most parents choose not to put themselves, or their unborn baby through further, more invasive tests. What do I need to know?