What can a pregnancy scan tell you about your baby? A pregnancy scan presents an exciting opportunity to see your baby and learn about its gender, size and due date. It can also be a little stressful if you are worried about any aspect of your pregnancy, or yours or your baby’s health. If you are due for a pregnancy scan, it is a good idea to know what to expect before you attend your appointment, so that you can be emotionally and mentally prepared, as well as knowing which questions to ask your obstetrician or sonographer.
Throughout your pregnancy, you may undergo at least two scans. Pregnancy scans can provide information to help you plan your pregnancy and prepare for motherhood, such as the number of babies you are having, the gender and your estimated due date (EDD). They are also used to monitor the health and progress of your pregnancy, including observing the size of the baby and checking for any defects.
What Pregnancy Scans Can Detect:
- How far along you are in the pregnancy
- The number of fetuses
- Estimated due date
- The size of the fetus
- Whether the fetus is viable or non-viable
- The risk of Down’s syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities
- Congenital defects such as cleft lip or spina bifida
- The condition and position of the placenta
- The health of the maternal organs
Dr Aka, Consultant Gynaecologist at The Gynae Centre, says, ‘Pregnancy scans are not compulsory – some women choose not to have them at all – but they are recommended for the safety of you and your baby, especially if you have hereditary conditions within your family or you are undergoing a high risk pregnancy. Plus, for many parents, it is a joy to see their child for the first time and take away a sonogram image that they can keep forever.’
Early Pregnancy Scans
Pregnancy confirmation scan
A pregnancy confirmation scan can be performed as soon as five days after your first missed period. This can reveal whether you are pregnant, and provide an EDD.
From six weeks, you can attend a viability scan, also commonly referred to as an early pregnancy scan or dating scan. As the name suggests, this can tell you how far along you are in the pregnancy and an EDD (if you did not already have a pregnancy confirmation scan), as well as how many heartbeats can be detected and how viable those heartbeats are.
If a heartbeat is nonviable, it means that the fetus has unfortunately not survived or it has no chance of surviving outside of the womb. At this stage of your pregnancy, this can happen due to:
- Ectopic pregnancy – where the fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb.
- Anembryonic gestation (blighted ovum) – where the embryo never develops or develops and is reabsorbed.
- Hydatidiform mole (molar pregnancy) – a rare complication where the placenta and fetus do not develop correctly, leading to the growth of abnormal cells in the uterus.
- Congenital defect – a disorder or malformation that develops in the fetus.
We can determine the sex of your baby from as early as 12 weeks into your pregnancy with a gender scan (Most clinics offer the sexing scan only from 16 weeks onwards). This means you don’t have to wait to find out if you’re having a boy or a girl. Our extensive experience means that we can provide 99% accuracy. In fact, we are so confident, we offer a money-back guarantee!
Nuchal Translucency Scan
A nuchal translucency scan is designed to detect the risk of Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities in a fetus. Note that this test cannot confirm whether your baby has Down’s syndrome – it can only identify whether it is at risk.
The nuchal translucency scan is offered at 12 to 14 weeks into the pregnancy and involves obtaining a measurement of the skin fold behind the fetus’ neck (Nuchal fold), combined with a blood test. These results are analysed and, taking into consideration the mother’s age, the risk of chromosomal abnormality is identified. Low risk results are found in 95% of tests.
You can choose to have a Harmony Prenatal test or a Panorama test, which are non-invasive prenatal DNA screening test (NIPT) that checks your baby for chromosome conditions by analysing abnormalities in the DNA.
The anomaly scan is usually performed between 18 to 21 weeks into the pregnancy. It is sometimes referred to as the mid pregnancy scan. During this scan, the sonographer will take a more detailed look at the fetus’ anatomy, including its brain, heart, bones, face and other organs. The sonographer will be evaluating the size, structure and activity of the fetus’ anatomy, and checking for a variety of conditions. These conditions include cleft lip, spina bifida, anencephaly and more.
The placenta, amniotic fluid volume and maternal organs will also be analysed. Conditions such as placenta previa (abnormal placenta attachment), ovarian masses and short cervix may be detected at this stage. It is important that these conditions are identified, as they may be the difference between a vaginal birth or caesarean section.