Congratulations on your pregnancy and welcome to the world of pregnancy ultrasounds.
You will have at least two ultrasound scans during your pregnancy provided by the NHS: a 12-week dating scan and a 20-week anomaly scan.
The 12-week scan will provide confirmation and dating for your pregnancy. The 20-week scan will provide information about your baby's growth and development.
A 5 weeks early scan will offer very limited information about your pregnancy unless there is suspicion of ectopic and therefore the 6 weeks is the most common gestation age that an ultrasound is performed.
A 5-week scan may be performed if you experience pelvic pain in one side of your pelvis or shoulder tip pain. This ultrasound scan will check for any evidence of an ectopic pregnancy. It can sometimes be inconclusive and a follow-up scan might be required.
Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the uterus with the most common location being the fallopian tube on the side where you ovulated from.
The 6 weeks scan is also limited but in most cases can confirm the pregnancy and viability. It is mainly performed when there are concerns about the pregnancy and to confirm the gestational age.
Feeling nervous about having an ultrasound scan so early in your pregnancy is normal. Try to stay calm and prepare yourself for what may happen. Bringing with you your partner or a close family member for extra support might be a good idea.
Reasons for a 6 Week Ultrasound scan
6-week ultrasound scans are not routinely offered by the NHS. You might want to have a private 6 weeks ultrasound scan if you suspect that your pregnancy is not progressing well or if you would like a definite pregnancy dating confirmation.
Reasons for a 6 Week Ultrasound Scan
- Previous miscarriage.
- You had fertility treatment.
- Pelvic pain on one side
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding.
- you are unsure how far along you are in your pregnancy.
At 6 weeks, you won't be able to see much detail of your baby. The ultrasound scan, however, should be able to confirm the gestation age by measuring either the gestation sac or the foetal pole if visible. Sometimes but not always you will be able to see the baby's heartbeat.
Most importantly the sonographer will be able to check that your baby is within the endometrial cavity and that you do not have an ectopic pregnancy.
Everyone obviously is different and sometimes a follow-up ultrasound in a week to 10 days might be necessary to give you more information.
What to expect during your early ultrasound scan
It is more likely that at 6 weeks gestation age you will need to have a transvaginal or internal ultrasound scan instead of a transabdominal scan (through the abdomen). This is because it is early stage and everything is still small. The transvaginal scan will be able to get closer to the endometrium and produce a better clearer image of the pregnancy insitu.
A 6-week ultrasound can also help to find the cause for any early pregnancy pain or bleeding.
Your baby at 6 weeks
At 6 weeks, your baby should measure approximately 5-9mms in length.
6 weeks into your pregnancy is also the earliest time you might be able to see the foetal pole and the foetal heartbeat.
The foetal heartbeat is seen like two parallel lines flickering. Most literature is saying that the foetal heartbeat should be around 90-110 beats per minute but we have seen slower heartbeats with positive pregnancy outcomes.
The yolk sac, a ring shape bright circle might also be visible. The yolk sac is where your baby is feeding on at this early stage in pregnancy.
Sometimes only the gestation sac is visible with no foetal pole or yolk sac and you might be asked to come back in a week to 10 days as you might be earlier in your pregnancy than you think.
If you have any questions please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer.
At our private ultrasound clinic, we offer pregnancy scans from as early as 5-6 weeks in times to suit you.
Who interprets the results of the early pregnancy scan and how do I get them?
A Sonographer, a Health Care Professional specifically trained to perform and understand the ultrasound images, will most likely do your exam and provide you with a written report that you can take it your doctor.
About Pregnancy Scans
A pregnancy ultrasound scan is the same as a ‘normal’ scans but is being used to evaluate the overall health of your baby instead of looking at other organs such as gallbladder for gallstones or kidney for kidney stones. So in pregnancy ultrasound scans are being used to visualise the baby, the placenta, the uterus and cervix and your ovaries.
Pregnancy ultrasound scans or prenatal ultrasounds are very common and being carried in any stage of the pregnancy.
What can be seen during the early scan:
At 5 weeks gestation (i.e 3 weeks after conception) a small gestation sac might be visible.
At 6 weeks, the yolk sac, the embryo (foetal pole) and the heartbeat might be visible.
At 7 weeks the embryo will be around 10mm with fast heartbeat.
At 8 weeks, the embryo will be around 16mm and the body and the head might be distinguishable. The embryonic movement might also be seen.
At 9 weeks, the embryo is now a foetus and head, body and limbs start to form.
Diagnostic Medical ultrasound scan or medical sonography as otherwise known is a painless imaging technique utilising sound waves to produce internal images of the body.
It is called ultrasound as the sound frequency being used is at the region of 1 to 20MHz. The human ear cant can’t hear these frequencies.
The sound waves are produced by the transducer or the probe as most commonly known. As they travel through the body they bounce back to the transducer due to various sound transmissions differences in tissues. The returning echoes are picked up by the probe and a powerful computer analyses the echoes and creates the 2d image on the screen.
There are various kinds of ultrasound scans that can be performed and each looks at different organs of the body such as tendons, muscles, joints, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, uterus and ovaries to confirm or exclude possible pathology.
Unlike Ct and MRI, ultrasound does not use radiation and therefore is pregnancy-friendly. It is also live and is ideal for musculoskeletal exams to evaluate moving joints.
Looking for a pregnancy reassurance ultrasound scan in London?
IUS London specialises in diagnostic private ultrasound scans to provide you with quick diagnosis and the much-needed reassurance about your health, within a convenient location. The cost of a private ultrasound scan shouldn’t be prohibited when it comes to someone’s wellbeing. This is why our prices are competitive and affordable with no compromise to the level of care. The price you see is the price you pay with no hidden extras. We have hundreds of happy clients including GP’s, consultants, radiologists and midwives to name a few. Some of our clients choose us when large, well-established ultrasound scanning companies failed them in diagnostic accuracy and especially aftercare. We offer ultrasound scan appointments via our online booking system or on the phone. We do not charge a deposit or a cancellation fee as we care more about our clients and we respect their decision to decide what is best for them without concern about the ultrasound scan deposit they already paid.
What are ultrasound scans used for in pregnancy?
Depending on your stage of pregnancy, ultrasounds will be used to give you and your doctor or midwife answers about your pregnancy.
First Trimester Ultrasounds
- Check that you are pregnant and that your baby has a heartbeat.
- Check if you have a singleton or twins
- Make sure that the pregnancy is not an ectopic located within the endometrial cavity and is not outside the womb such as in the fallopian tube.
- Look for the cause of any bleeding you might have.
- Date the pregnancy by measuring the crown-rump length of the foetal pole.
Second Trimester Ultrasounds
- Verify dates and growth
- Estimate the baby's risk of Down's syndrome by measuring fluid at the back of your baby’s neck between about 10 weeks and 14 weeks
- Help with diagnostic tests by showing the position of the baby and placenta.
- Check your baby to see if all his organs are normal.
- Diagnose abnormalities
- Assess the amount of amniotic fluid and the location of the placenta.
- Evaluation of fetal well-being
- Make sure your baby is growing at the expected rate.
- Confirm if your baby is a boy or a girl.
Some mothers to be, will unfortunately get various complications during pregnancy such as high blood pressure, kidney infections and abnormal liver function tests. As ultrasound scans are pregnancy-friendly your doctor might refer you for an abdominal/liver scan or a kidney scan to check for anything that might explain your symptoms.
Although these ultrasound scans are not pregnancy scans, they are related to pregnancy and in most cases, all the complications resolve after delivery. But like everything else related to your health and your baby’s health: better safe than sorry.