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Everything You Need to Know About Early Pregnancy Scans

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Are you currently expecting a little bundle of joy? Then one of the most exciting aspects that you might be looking forward to is going for your first scan.

Early pregnancy scans are not only a way to check on the wellbeing of the baby, but they also allow you to start creating that special bond that’ll last a lifetime.

So does this mean that you’re going to have all the scans that you like? Well, not if you’re under the care of the NHS. For a pregnant mother in the UK, in fact, the NHS will only offer two scans, unless your pregnancy’s classified as high-risk.

Your first scan will likely be around the twelve-week mark, the so-called “dating scan”. Then, you’ll have your second scan at around 20 weeks, the “anomaly scan”.

But what if you want to have more than that, especially during your first trimester? Your best bet is to visit a private baby scanning clinic. Read on to find out why you should consider private early scans for greater peace of mind.

Why Early Pregnancy Scans?

At Imaginatal, we understand how stressful and frustrating it might be to only see your baby a couple of times in nine months. Not only that, but if you have a history of pregnancy loss, infertility, or anxiety, chances are that you’ll be eager to see your baby ASAP.

If you’re familiar with any of these conditions, then you’ll definitely appreciate the relief and reassurance that come with having extra early scans. On the other hand, in the unlikely event that there are any issues, it’s important that these get picked up as quickly as possible.

Why is that? Because finding out about a problem with your baby in the very early days means being able to take swift action and ensure the best possible outcome.

But what if you’re a first-time, low-risk mum? You, too, can benefit from a private early scan, as it might help you to feel more connected to your body and baby. Some mums-to-be even say that seeing their baby grow and change during these early weeks makes the whole pregnancy feel more real.

For these reasons, the expert, friendly, and fully-trained team of sonographers at Imaginatal offers early pregnancy scans. We know how vital it is for you to keep an eye on Baby right from the very beginning. You’ll be able to bond with them and act faster in case any issue is picked up. For more information, you can also check out blog posts on why you should get an early reassurance scan.

How Do They Work?

Have you decided that you’ll benefit from having an extra scan or two during your first trimester? Great! Now you might want more information on how they actually work, especially if you’ve never had a pregnancy scan before.

At Imaginatal, we’re happy to offer you a scan from as early as six weeks, which is a wonderful way to reassure you and get you all excited about what’s to come (hint: lots of sleepless nights and ultra-cute baby cuddles!). Booking a scan for your sixth week of gestation also means that you won’t have to wait too long at all to see your baby for the very first time.

Think about this: normally, women get a clear, strong positive pregnancy test (sometimes called “big fat positive“!) when they’re in between three and six weeks pregnant. So, scheduling your first scan for week six means only having to wait a few days. Pretty amazing, right?

Let’s now dive into what happens on the actual big day. Once you’re all booked in for your early pregnancy scan, you’ll come to our clinic, where a member of our lovely reception team will greet and invite you to make yourself comfortable in our beautiful waiting room.

Then, one of our fully-qualified and HCPC registered sonographers will lead you to a scanning room and talk you through the process. It’s actually pretty simple: they’ll ask you to remove your bottom half, lie on the scanning bed, and then proceed with the scan.

What Can You See at This Stage of Pregnancy?

Right now, your baby is still very tiny, which means that an internal ultrasound will be needed, as opposed to an abdominal one. You can rest assured that internal scans are not painful, but they might feel a little bit uncomfortable, especially in the beginning.

To minimise all possible discomfort, we’ll encourage you to take deep breaths and relax. Trust us, mindful breathing does work wonders when trying to minimise any slightly unpleasant sensation!

During the scan, your sonographer will be able to show you all the little bits that they can identify at this stage: usually, the baby itself (still an embryo at this stage), their heartbeat, and the gestational sac.

When we identify the heartbeat, we’ll also be able to play it for you. This is one of the most memorable milestones and experiences of your pregnancy, so make sure you listen carefully!

Oh, and if you’re wondering when you’ll be able to know if you’re having twins or multiples, then the answer is during your early pregnancy scan! Yes, because it’s at this stage that sonographers can spot whether there’s more than one embryo and gestational sac, in which case they’ll let you know right away.

At the end of your scan, we’ll be delighted to print out one black and white photo of your baby, as well as provide you with a scan report and well-being form. If you require any digital images too, we’ll be happy to email them to you after your scan.

Can You Spot if There Are Any Issues?

The vast majority of pregnancies are risk-free and end with a healthy baby born at full term. However, it’s also important to bear in mind that pregnancy complications can happen to anyone. And although in most cases they end up being minor, they still need to be looked after in the right way.

Having an early scan, or a series of early scans, can be helpful in order to identify potential problems. Whilst during the first trimester, your baby is still not developed yet, there are two main, vital aspects that your sonographer can already focus on: your baby’s heartbeat and their location.

Checking Baby’s Location and Heartbeat

Generally speaking, a baby’s heartbeat can be found from week six of pregnancy, so if your sonographer can’t identify one at that stage, then this might be alarming. Don’t panic just yet, though. Simply come back to visit us again for another scan after one week and we’ll re-assess.

Sometimes, a heartbeat is identified a little bit later in the pregnancy, particularly if you have your dates a little mixed up. For example, you might be thinking that you’re six weeks already, when in fact you’re just over five. In this case, it’s much less likely to find a heartbeat.

But if you’re confident about your dates, then you might need some further checks. At Imaginatal, we understand how anxious and worried you might be feeling if one of our sonographers tells you that they can’t find a heartbeat. So, we’re proud to offer your next scan for free, and hopefully give you the peace of mind that all is well with Baby.

Early scans are also the best way to tell if your pregnancy is developing in the right place (your uterus) or elsewhere (usually, your fallopian tubes). The latter can be a very serious and dangerous complication, ending in an ectopic pregnancy.

And since an early scan will also be able to tell you whether you’re having multiples, this will allow you to get your future care organised so that you’re fully supported. Not to mention that it’ll also give you plenty of time to get your head around the fact that you’re not going to have just one baby, but two or more!

Start Bonding with Your Baby Right from the Very Beginning of Your Pregnancy

Early pregnancy scans are a great way to allow parents-to-be to start building that amazing bond with their unborn baby, right from the very early days of the pregnancy.

Besides this, having a scan early in the pregnancy can also be useful to spot any potential problems with baby, which helps you and your healthcare provider to take action quickly and effectively.

If you’d like to book your early pregnancy scan now, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to see you (and your baby!) whenever it suits you!

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