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Early Pregnancy Scans – Are they a bit of fun or a serious examination?

Early Pregnancy Scans – Are they a bit of fun or a serious examination?

Early pregnancy can be a daunting yet exciting time for mother’s to be. As mother myself, I can say that I always felt a feeling of disbelief that I was actually pregnant. That stripe on the pregnancy test just didn’t seem real or convincing particularly, in the early days when I had no symptoms although, that's not the case for everyone. It is totally understandable that in mother’s to be are now booking in for early pregnancy scans at private scan clinics. In recent years we have seen a big rise in private scan clinics so it's pretty easy to find one near you but it always good to check that if in England they are CQC registered. Early pregnancy scans can really bring it home that you are definitely pregnant and that it is happening and happening to you!

Although early pregnancy can be extremely exciting, for some people it can be a very anxious time, especially if things haven’t previously gone as planned which is very much more common than one might think. Current numbers for (Yes - The M word) miscarriage are between 10 and 25% of known pregnancies.

With these statistics in mind, before booking an early scan, some consideration is required. Early pregnancy scans or reassurance scans can be totally amazing but, unlike gender scans and 3D/4D imaging on their own that do not include a diagnostic element, early pregnancy scans are purely medical examinations for the purpose of determining the viability (when we see both baby with heart beat and yolk sac) of your pregnancy or offering reassurance.

Early Life Ultrasound Centre in Cheltenham take this type of scan quite seriously and don’t tend to promote early scans as a fun or bonding scan. That's not to say that we aren't thrilled for people when we are able to tell people that all is well but we take a compassionate, sensitive approach if all isn't.

We can complete and early pregnancy scan from 7 weeks but, if you are having a early scan before this stage it is extremely likely that your Sonographer won’t be able to confirm viability in one appointment and this can actually create more anxiety for the “limbo” period between scans. Sonographers may also not be able to confirm that the pregnancy is intrauterine (in the right place) for example so it may be a concern that the pregnancy is not in the right place. This is called an ectopic pregnancy. If this is suspected then you would generally be referred to your local Early Pregnancy assessment unit who may need to carry out further checks.

See below a blog about ectopic pregnancy and a blog about what you may see at each stage.

There are those times, where perhaps dates are not known or if your menstrual cycles are longer meaning that ovulation took place later it can be that your pregnancy isn’t as far as along as you thought. In these cases it should be carefully explained, and re-scan appointments will be booked. 


Below are some more links to some of our blogs and recommended read websites regarding early pregnancy scans.

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