During your pregnancy, you will be offered 2 ultrasound scans. The first will take place between 11-14 weeks and is known as the dating scan. The second scan is around 18-21 weeks and is also known as the 20 week or anomaly scan.
If it is deemed medically necessary, early pregnancy scans may be offered and additional growth scans may be required after 23 weeks of pregnancy.
All scans undertaken at Rosie Ultrasound are performed by qualified sonographers. As the Rosie hospital is a teaching hospital, there may also be students present in the scan room. You also may be asked if a trainee sonographer can perform your scan. A qualified sonographer will always be present in these cases, however, you are allowed to decline being scanned by a trainee and this will not affect the care that is provided to you.
11-14 weeks Dating scan
The dating scan takes usually 20 minutes.
The purpose of the dating scan is to check:
- how many weeks pregnant you are and work out your due date (the estimated date of delivery, or EDD)
- whether you're expecting more than 1 baby
- that the baby is growing in the right place
- your baby's development
The combined screening test for Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s, may also take place during this scan. The combined screening test involves measuring the fluid at the back of baby’s neck (nuchal translucency) during the scan, followed by a blood test.
Combined screening will be undertaken if:
- you have agreed to have screening for the conditions
- the scan takes place between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy when the crown rump length (CRL) measurement of the baby is between 45.0mm and 84.0mm.
More information about screening tests for you and your baby is available on the gov.uk website.
The combined screening test will not be able to be performed if your dating scan happens after the baby’s CRL is more than 84mm, or if the CRL or nuchal translucency cannot be accurately measured. If this is the case, you will be offered another blood test (the ‘Quad’ test) at 16 weeks of pregnancy to screen for your chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. This test cannot screen for Edward’s or Patau’s and is not quite as accurate as the combined test.
The 20 week scan (Anomaly scan)
The anomaly scan usually takes 30 minutes.
This scan can take place between 18-21 weeks and is a detailed anatomy check of your baby. This screening scan is offered to everyone, however you do not have to have it if you do not wish.
The scan checks the physical development and growth of your baby. Sometimes serious health conditions may be picked up at this scan. However not every condition can be identified. The location of the placenta will also be checked at this scan. The sonographer may be able to give you an opinion on the sex of your baby at this scan, should you wish to know.
The 18-21 weeks screening scan is carried out in the same way as the 11-14 week scan. It produces 2D black and white images to give views of your baby. The NHS screening programme does not use colour or 3D images.
More information about the anomaly scan is available on the gov.uk website.
If there are medical concerns about the viability of your pregnancy, you may be offered a scan in early pregnancy. If you have any concerns during your pregnancy prior to your dating scan, please contact Clinic 24 for advice on 01223 217636 08:00-20:00 Monday-Friday and 08:00-14:00 Saturday/Sunday.
Some women, who are following a high risk pathway, may be offered additional scans which will take place after 23 weeks of pregnancy. These scans assess your baby’s growth and wellbeing and may be used in conjunction with other tests and input from the obstetric team. Growth scans usually take 30 minutes.
What happens at a scan?
Scans in Rosie Ultrasound are carried out by specially trained staff called sonographers. The scan is carried out in a dimly lit room, so the sonographer can obtain the best images possible of your baby.
- You'll be asked to lie on a couch and reveal your tummy. Tissue paper will be tucked around your clothing to protect it from the ultrasound gel.
- The sonographer will put ultrasound gel on your tummy, which makes sure there is good contact between the machine and your skin.
- The sonographer passes a probe over your tummy and a picture of the baby will appear on the ultrasound screen.
- During the exam, sonographers need to keep the screen in a position that gives them a good view of the baby. In most rooms there is a separate monitor for you to watch as the scan takes place.
- The sonographer will carefully examine your baby's body. The scan does not hurt however the sonographer may need to apply slight pressure on your tummy to get the best views of the baby.
The scan is a medical procedure and the sonographer will make sure you understand what is going to happen and gain your permission before starting. There may be times during the examination when the sonographer is quiet as they are concentrating, but they will answer all your questions before or after the scan has taken place. Mobile phone use is not permitted in the scan rooms as per Trust policy.
It is sometimes not possible to obtain good views of your baby. This can be due to certain factors, for example your baby being in an awkward position or maternal BMI. If deemed necessary, another scan will be offered to complete the checks required.
It may be that a transvaginal scan is recommended in certain clinical situations. If this is the case, the sonographer will discuss this with you and will gain your consent before proceeding. A formal chaperone will be offered and present throughout the scan. You are allowed to decline a transvaginal scan if that is your choice.
Who can I bring?
You may like to bring someone with you to the scan appointment. It is expected that the mother/birthing person will attend the hospital, for the scan, with one adult only (over the age of 18).
Children are not permitted to attend scan appointments as they can often be distracting to the sonographer while they are carrying out important clinical checks on your baby. It can also be challenging for parents to absorb essential information with their children present. At times, unexpected news will be given to parents, after the scan, if serious health conditions are found with their baby and this can be distressing for children to witness their parents upset.
Childcare is not available at the hospital, therefore we strongly advise that childcare arrangements are made prior to the scan appointments. If there are exceptional circumstances and you cannot arrange childcare, please contact the scan department to discuss this with them prior to your scan appointment.
Can I video during the scan?
The scans that are undertaken are medical procedures therefore photographs or videos are not allowed to be taken during the scan using mobile phones or other recording equipment. This is in line with Trust policy and for the following reasons:
- Pathology relating to the baby or birthing woman/person may be revealed during the scan – which can be very distressing. It is not appropriate to record or photograph such events.
- Sonographers require high levels of concentration during obstetric ultrasound examinations. Video recording and additional lighting from phones can be distracting and distort a sonographer’s vision. The birthing woman/person and the person accompanying them should refrain from general mobile phone usage during the scan for this reason.
- Privacy of staff should be respected and they should be able to fulfil their job without being recorded.
How do I get a picture of my baby?
You will be offered the opportunity to buy an ultrasound image and this may be requested at any scan. Please do not pay for pictures before the scan. Due to the busy nature of the scan department, we cannot increase the length of the scan time to obtain a “good” picture.
Please note that thermal paper images should not be subjected to heat (e.g. laminating) and the long-term stability of thermal images is not known.
Can I find out my baby’s sex?
If requested by the birthing woman/person, sonographers can provide an opinion on the sex of your baby at the anomaly scan. This cannot always be seen as this will depend on the position of the baby and other factors during the scan.
As it is not a requirement of the NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme, additional time is not provided to look for the sex of your baby. It is important that sonographers spend as much time as they need to check the structures of the baby and perform the diagnostic scan without delays to scan lists. They are unable to spend longer looking for the sex of the baby or to book another scan if they cannot offer an opinion at the time of the scan.
If the sonographer can see, they will tell you their opinion on sex at the time of the scan. This opinion is not 100% accurate.