Ultrasound is the most crucial investigation for assessing the wellbeing of your baby. You will have multiple ultrasounds throughout your pregnancy, mostly with me. Two of your ultrasounds will be referred to an ultrasound specialist.
An ultrasound is really important at the first appointment
It confirms that the pregnancy is growing well, the due date for the pregnancy, and whether there are twins. At 8–9 weeks, the ultrasound can almost always be done through your abdomen, making an internal ultrasound unnecessary. I’ll do the ultrasound myself in the consulting room.
Seeing your baby on the screen for the first time is incredibly exciting, and something you’ll never forget. You will be sent images and videos from your ultrasound direct to your mobile phone.
At each appointment you have with me, I will perform an ultrasound. The purpose of the ultrasound varies depending on where you are up to in the pregnancy, but will involve checking the following:
- Viability — checking the fetal heart beat
- Growth assessment — checking how big the baby is, and whether it is growing correctly
- Wellbeing — this involves complicated Doppler blood flow measurements on the baby and the placenta to check that the baby is healthy and the placenta is functioning normally.
I always try and take some nice images and videos of your baby for you to share — if the baby cooperates! I can also check the gender for you at 18 weeks, and sometimes even at 14 weeks.
Recent studies have shown that serial ultrasound during your pregnancy is far better than fundal height (i.e. measuring the outside of your abdomen with a tape measure) at detecting dangerous growth restriction. Early detection reduces the danger to your baby by allowing me to instigate close monitoring and help ensure a timely delivery.
You will be referred for an ultrasound at a specialist clinic at 12 and 20 weeks.
Both the 12 and 20 week ultrasounds give important information; an anatomy (organ) survey of the baby, assessment of the baby’s growth, a check of where the placenta is growing and how long your cervix is. Because the baby is much bigger and more developed at 20 weeks, more detail can be detected at this ultrasound. The advantage of the 12 week ultrasound is that major issues can often be diagnosed at an earlier stage in the pregnancy.
Occasionally additional specialist ultrasounds are required later in the pregnancy.
Why choose a specialist women’s ultrasound clinic?
I highly recommend that you have each of your ultrasounds at a specialist women’s clinic. You can be sure if you go to one of my recommended clinics that you will be getting the most accurate and reliable scan possible.
Specialist ultrasound clinics can be a little more expensive than a non-specialist clinic (although non-specialist clinics often charge significant out-of-pocket fees, too) but it is money wisely spent. It eliminates the need for repeat ultrasounds should the first show an abnormality or if the non-specialist ultrasonographer is simply not sure what they are seeing. This can end up being more stressful, too.