What is the Early Pregnancy Scan?

Early pregnancy scans, also known as first-trimester ultrasounds, play a crucial role in prenatal care. These scans offer a first glimpse into the developing pregnancy and provide vital information that can impact both maternal and fetal health decisions.

As outlined in a study by Poma (1984), early pregnancy scans can significantly contribute to the emotional and social well-being of expectant mothers. These scans enable the early detection of pregnancy, often even before the first day of the missed menstrual period, fostering a sense of connection and anticipation for the family.

Furthermore, according to Neilson (2000), these scans are instrumental in accurate gestational age assessment, which is essential for predicting due dates and scheduling subsequent prenatal care. They also play a critical role in identifying multiple pregnancies early on, which can significantly alter prenatal management and counseling.

Additionally, early detection of potential fetal abnormalities, as highlighted by Bricker et al. (2000), allows for timely medical or surgical interventions, informed decision-making, and psychological preparation for parents-to-be.

Advancements in ultrasound technology, as demonstrated by Dhombres et al. (2019), have further improved the diagnostic accuracy and efficiency of these scans, making them a cornerstone of modern obstetric care.

  Private Early Scan –Quick Overview

  • Pregnancy ultrasound scan
  • 6 – 9 weeks of pregnancy
  • Viability Baby Scan
  • Reassurance scan
  • Determine the presence of a pregnancy
  • Ensure the viability of the pregnancy
  • Exclude miscarriage
  • Confirm that pregnancy is intrauterine and not an ectopic
  • Early Reassurance
  • No GP referral is required
  • Same-day appointments are usually available
  • Results straight away
  • Fully qualified, experienced, NHS sonographers
  • A full Bladder is required
  • Only £109
  • Book Online or over the phone
  • Notting Hill Gate Station, London
Early pregnancy scan in London

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Benefits of Early Pregnancy Scans

Emotional and Social Well-being

A study by Poma (1984) emphasizes the positive impact of early pregnancy scans on the emotional and social well-being of expectant mothers. These scans provide reassurance and a sense of connection with the unborn child, fostering a positive prenatal experience (Poma, 1984).

Accurate Gestational Age Assessment

Neilson (2000) highlights the significance of early pregnancy scans in accurately determining the gestational age. This is crucial for planning and monitoring the pregnancy and can have implications for the timing of delivery (Neilson, 2000).

Early Detection of Multiple Pregnancies and Fetal Abnormalities

Research by Bricker et al. (2000) points out that early pregnancy scans are vital for the early detection of multiple pregnancies and potential fetal abnormalities. This early detection can be crucial for the management and decision-making processes during pregnancy (Bricker et al., 2000).

Improving Diagnostic Performance

A study by Dhombres et al. (2019) discusses the advancements in scanning technology, such as the Intelligent Scan Assistant System, that significantly improve the accuracy and efficiency of early pregnancy diagnosis. This technology aids in providing a more precise diagnosis and reduces the number of images per scan, making the process more streamlined and effective (Dhombres et al., 2019).

These benefits underscore the importance of early pregnancy scans in prenatal care, offering both medical and psychological advantages. By providing critical information about the pregnancy at an early stage, these scans play a pivotal role in the health and well-being of both the mother and the unborn child.

Reasons for early pregnancy ultrasound scans:

The reasons people opting for early pregnancy scanning are:

  • Positive pregnancy test
  • IVF
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • History of miscarriage
  • History of ectopic pregnancy
  • General reassurance
  • To rule out ectopic pregnancy and check the pregnancy sac is located within the uterus
  • Confirm the viability of the pregnancy
  • Check the fetal heartbeat is present
  • Calculate the gestation of pregnancy using measurements of the crown-rump length.
  • Determine whether it is a singleton or multiple pregnancies
  • Diagnosis of abnormal bleeding/Spotting or any unusual pain during pregnancy
  • Loss of pregnancy symptoms
  • Information about pregnancy health

How many weeks are you?

If you are not sure, please use our Gestation age pregnancy calculator to find the age of your pregnancy before you book your appointment.

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Use our online booking system to choose the most suitable day and time for your baby scan.

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What is the purpose of early scans:

The purpose of this early obstetric ultrasound is:

  • Determine the presence of a pregnancy
  • Determine cause of any concerning symptoms, such as pregnancy spotting or bleeding if present
  • To ensure the viability of the pregnancy by detecting a clear baby heartbeat.
  • Ensure that the pregnancy is located within the uterus and not in the fallopian tubes (not an ectopic pregnancy).
  • Detect whether it is single or multiple pregnancies.
  • Early reassurance

What is included with the private early scan?

This ultrasound includes: Report with a 2D b/w baby picture.


Preparation for this early scan

We need a full bladder for this early pregnancy scan, so you need to drink 1/2lt (1 pint) of water an hour before your scan.

Procedure and What to Expect

Preparing for the Scan

  • Appointment Scheduling: Schedule your early pregnancy scan typically between 6 to 11 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Prior to the Scan: You may be advised to drink water before the scan to fill your bladder, which can help in getting clearer images.

During the Scan

Check-In and Initial Assessment:

    • Upon arrival, you may be asked to fill out some paperwork.
    • Your healthcare professional will explain the procedure and answer any initial questions.

      Preparation for the Scan:

      • You will be asked to lie down on a examination table.
      • A clear gel will be applied to your abdomen. This gel helps in transmitting sound waves for clearer images.
  1. Performing the Ultrasound:

    • The sonographer or radiologist will move a handheld device called a transducer over your abdomen.
    • The transducer sends sound waves into your body, which bounce off internal structures, including your baby, to create images on the monitor.
  1. Observation and Measurement:

    • The sonographer will measure the size of the embryo or foetus to determine the gestational age.
    • Important aspects like the heartbeat, the number of embryos, and the position of the pregnancy will be assessed.
  2. Discussion of Initial Findings:

    • The sonographer will provide immediate insights based on the scan. 

After the Scan

  • Post-Scan Procedures:

    • The gel will be wiped off from your abdomen.
    • You may need to wait briefly while the images are being reviewed.
  • Consultation with Healthcare Provider:

    • The sonographer will discuss the results with you, explaining the findings and next steps.
    • This is an opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns.
  • Follow-Up:

    • Based on the scan results, further appointments or follow-up scans may be needed.

What to Expect Emotionally

  • Reassurance and Anxiety: A study by Brisch et al. (2002) noted that ultrasound scanning for fetal abnormalities can be a source of reassurance but may also trigger anxiety. It’s normal to have mixed feelings during and after the scan.
  • Support and Guidance: Remember, the healthcare team is there to provide support and guidance throughout the process.

Early pregnancy scans are a critical part of prenatal care, providing valuable information about the health and development of the foetus. While the procedure is generally straightforward and safe, it’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and support.

Interpreting Scan Results

Understanding the Basics

  • Gestational Age: A study by Neilson (2000) highlights the importance of assessing gestational age. The scan measures the size of the embryo or foetus to estimate how many weeks pregnant you are.
  • Fetal Heartbeat: The presence of a heartbeat is a positive sign of pregnancy viability. Poma (1984) notes the emotional impact of detecting a fetal heartbeat early in the pregnancy.

Identifying Key Features

  • Number of Embryos: As per Bricker et al. (2000), early scans can accurately detect multiple pregnancies. The scan will confirm whether you’re expecting one baby, twins, or more.
  • Embryo Location: The scan ensures the embryo is properly located in the uterus. Early detection of an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants outside the uterus, is crucial for maternal health.

Addressing Concerns

  • Unclear or Concerning Results: Sometimes, scans may reveal findings that need further investigation. Follow-up scans or additional tests might be recommended.
  • Emotional Impact: The scan can have significant emotional implications. Davison et al. (2014) discuss the psychological effects of early pregnancy tests and the importance of support and counseling.

Interpreting early pregnancy scan results requires understanding both the medical and emotional contexts. These scans offer vital insights into the health and development of the fetus and are a crucial part of prenatal care. If you have concerns or questions about your scan results, it’s important to discuss them with your healthcare provider.

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How soon can you get an early pregnancy scan?

The early pregnancy baby scan is used to see how far along in your pregnancy you are and check your baby’s development. This sonography test can routinely detect a baby’s heartbeat from as early as 6-7 weeks and confirm the correct dates of your pregnancy.

What if I were to receive unexpected news?

Unfortunately, very often the ultrasound scan findings might show that the pregnancy is not progressing as expected. There are multiple reasons for this such as dating discrepancy or due to the health of the pregnancy such as a miscarriage.

We follow the national guidelines and depending on the findings we will recommend the appropriate referral pathway.

When can you see a baby on the screen?

You can see the baby on the screen from 6 weeks – At this stage, the pregnancy is of course small, but we should be able to see the gestation sac with a yolk sac developing in your uterus. We should also be able to see your baby’s heartbeat on scan, which is very reassuring.

What can you expect to see on your early pregnancy scan?

At 5 weeks pregnant, you will be able to see a small gestation sac in the uterus.

At 6 weeks pregnant, within the uterus, you will be able to see a small gestation sac and maybe a small yolk sac. You can find more about the 6-week pregnancy scan.

Between 6-7 weeks, a fetal pole might be seen. The foetal pole is the start of seeing a baby but still measuring only a few millimetres with a heartbeat and the chances of pregnancy continuing are high, close to 80%.

At 7 weeks gestation, the baby usually measures 10 – 20 mm and the heartbeat can be seen. You can read more about the 7 week ultrasound scan.

At 8 weeks pregnant, the baby measures between 20 and 30 mm and the heartbeat is clearly visible. The chances of the pregnancy continuing in that stage is 98%

At 10 weeks pregnant the baby is now between 35 and 40 mm and if the baby heartbeat can be seen the chances of the pregnancy continuing is 99.4%.

At 11+ weeks pregnant the baby is now measuring around 45 mm and the head, body, arms and legs can be seen. The heart, the stomach, bladder and cord insertion may also be seen.

Our article will give you more information about the 8-12 week pregnancy scan.

What is the foetal pole?

The foetal pole is the first direct imaging manifestation of the foetus and is seen as a thickening on the margin of the yolk sac during early pregnancy. It is often used synonymously with the term “embryo”.

What does no foetal pole or yolk sac seen mean?

Foetal pole or yolk sack can be seen from 6-7 weeks of gestation. In those cases where the foetal pole is not seen, a follow-up scan will be recommended 7-10 days later.

Private Early Pregnancy Scan Near Me

If you are looking for an early pregnancy scan nearby, our ultrasound clinic offers a wide range of baby scans for all trimesters during pregnancy to monitor the growth and development of the fetus as well as the pregnant woman.

We are conveniently located in the heart of London, just a few minutes walk from Notting Hill Gate tube station, in a cobbled cul-de-sac off Kensington Mall in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Notting Hill underground station is served by Central, Circle and District lines.