Also known as an obstetric ultrasound
What is a pregnancy scan?
An obstetric or pregnancy scan, uses high frequency sound waves that bounce off your baby and internal organs. These waves create echoes, which are recorded and displayed in real time on a monitor. Ultrasound doesn’t use radiation and is considered completely safe during pregnancy.
If you need a pregnancy scan, here’s everything you need to know.
Before your scan
When you make your appointment, our booking team will give you a rundown of everything you need to know. For example, you may be asked to drink water and avoid going to the toilet, or arrive 10 minutes prior. Unless you’ve been asked not to, you should continue eating and drinking normally and take all your usual medications.
Note: If you have young children and are planning on bringing them to the appointment, we kindly ask that you arrange alternative adult supervision for them. This is so the sonographer can fully concentrate, whilst they perform the highest quality of scan for you. This ensures we provide you with the best care possible.
Please also remember to bring your completed doctors referral form with you, if this has not already been sent to us. This will ensure the branch reception has all the necessary information required so our expert team can provide you with the best care possible.
On the day of your appointment
When you arrive, check in with reception and we’ll make sure your details are correct.
The skilled sonographer performing the examination will ask you questions about your scan, listen to you and make you comfortable. The procedure will be explained in detail and the sonographer will answer any questions you have before starting the examination.
Generally, you’ll be able to stay in your own clothes, but your sonographer will ask you to bare your stomach, from chest to lower hips, so it’s a good idea to wear a top and trousers or a skirt. Your scan will last between 30 and 45 minutes. There are two types of obstetric scans:
where the transducer (imaging device) is moved over your skin, using a water-based gel to help the transducer glide and obtain images of baby and other structures.
where the transducer is inserted in the body like a tampon. This will only be used in cases where the sonographer can’t get a clear image from the external ultrasound. This will ensure they obtain the best view of baby and placenta with the transducer as close to the cervix as possible. You’ll lie on your back and you may have a cushion positioned underneath you. The small transducer is inserted into the vagina – this may be slightly uncomfortable, but not painful. You have the option of guiding the transducer in yourself should you wish.
Important Note: We understand that an internal ultrasound can be a sensitive and personal procedure. You are therefore more than welcome to request a female sonographer to perform this obstetric scan – so please make this known at the time of booking your appointment. You also have the right to decline.
As you will appreciate also, these medical appointments are very important and the quality of the scan is heavily dependent on the sonographer being able to concentrate on performing them without too much interruption. Whilst our sonographers do their best to explain what they are seeing on the screen, sometimes they need to remain quiet so they can focus entirely on your assessment. The sonographer has a required list of anatomical structures to provide the radiologist, so a detailed report can be provided. We appreciate your patience during these times and encourage you to watch the monitor screen, so you can observe the scanning of your baby. Sometimes, we are able to see the gender of your baby, however depending on baby’s position it is not always possible.
NO FILMING DURING THE SCAN IS PERMITTED.
After your scan
Once all images are taken by the sonographer, these are sent to the radiologist who reviews the images and provides a detailed report, which is sent to your referrer. Your referring primary care provider will receive these within two working days.
Who can't have an obstetric ultrasound?
Ultrasounds are considered safe for everyone.
If you are allergic to latex and are having an internal scan, please let your sonographer know before the procedure.
Where can I get an obstetric ultrasound?