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12 Week Scan: What to Expect from Your First Pregnancy Ultrasound

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Most people wait until they’re three months into their pregnancy before sharing the news with the world. But that’s not the only thing you should be doing if you’ve reached 12 weeks.

At that time, you should be gearing up for your first pregnancy ultrasound, too. Your 12 week scan provides you with vital information about your little one and their health.

Here’s what to expect from that first appointment.

When is the First Baby Scan?

It’s called the 12-week scan, but does it actually happen a dozen weeks into your pregnancy? For most mums, it will take place between 11 and 14 weeks into gestation. You might not be exactly sure of the date you conceived, after all.

On that note, some mums will see the doctor sooner than 12 weeks into their pregnancies. If you have a history of miscarriages, or if you’ve undergone fertility treatments, you may be offered an earlier scan to ensure everything’s going along well. If you are not offered one of these but would still like an earlier scan to check everything’s okay, this is often an option at private clinics.

What Will I Learn During the 12 Week Scan?

Many people refer to the first ultrasound as the “dating scan,” because this is when you’ll find out your baby’s exact due date. You might have an idea of when you conceived your child-to-be, but your ultrasound technician can confirm how far along you are.

But that’s not all you’ll learn about your baby during this first baby scan. You’ll also find out:

  • If you’re having one baby or multiples;

  • If your baby’s organs, limbs, skull, and umbilical cord are developing as they should;

  • Where the placenta is and how it’s developing.

During the first scan, you can also opt for a nuchal translucency test, which requires a blood test and a check of the fluids behind your baby’s neck. This information can paint a clearer picture of your baby’s chance of having Down’s, Edwards, or Patau’s syndrome.

What Happens During the Scan?

You’ve probably seen ultrasounds in movies or on telly, so you have an idea of what an ultrasound is like. The technician will rub a gel onto your tummy, then roll a device over your baby bump so you can peer into the womb. In some cases, you may need a trans-vaginal ultrasound instead – for example, if your baby has cosied up deep inside of your pelvis.

If you’re wondering what to wear for the baby scan, skip your tightest jeans. Instead, skirts or elasticised trousers are the easiest. You will have to slide your bottoms over your baby bump, so choosing something that moves easily is your best bet.

You should also plan to drink lots of water before your scan, as well. A full bladder will push the uterus up, making for extra-clear images of your baby-to-be. However, you won’t get print-outs of your baby’s photos, unless you head to a private clinic for a three or four-dimensional scan.

Your ultrasound technician won’t be able to figure out your baby’s gender during the 12 week scan. Most of the time, they can discern if your little one is a boy or girl by 18 weeks.

I’m Ready for My 12 Week Scan

Your 12 week scan often gives you your first glimpse at your baby, which makes it one of the most special moments in your pregnancy. This information should help you prepare for the appointment, but nothing can ready you for that rush of joy you’ll feel when you see your little one for the first time.

If you’d like to follow up your early pregnancy scan with a more in-depth look at your baby, click here. We perform both 3D and 4D ultrasounds, which can tide you over until it’s time for your son or daughter to join your family.

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