Early Pregnancy Scan FAQ: The Basics Covered


In the days running up to your very first pregnancy scan, chances are there will be dozens of questions you’d like to ask and concerns you’d prefer addressed before going ahead. It’s a time in life where nothing can be taken for granted and to ask plenty of questions is both normal and encouraged – those pertaining to early pregnancy scans being no exception to the rule.

So while there will of course be several case specific questions every women will need to ask her doctor, nurse or midwife, the following basics could help clarify a few of the more universal concerns:

1) Are Today’s Popular 3D and 4D Scans Safe?

There’s been a fair bit of talk and controversy over recent years with regard to the safety of 3D and 4D scans. Exactly where it originated from remains a mystery, but the suggestion that 3D and 4D scans are unsafe is one that continues to worry thousands of women year after year. Well, here’s the long and short of it – 4D and 3D scans are carried out using the exact same scanning techniques as standard 2D ultrasound scans…which are of course wholly harmless.

The only known side-effect of ultrasound use on human beings is that of a very, very slight increase in the temperature of the cells and tissues the sound waves pass through. Both mother and baby’s body temperatures are monitored strictly during all scans, though it would be necessary for temperatures to reach at least 41°C for any harm to be caused, which is simply impossible with ultrasound technology.

2) How Are 3D and 4D Scans Better than 2D Scans?

To use the word ‘better’ might not be entirely appropriate as it all comes down to the personal preferences of the parents. As mentioned above, the same ultrasound technology is used for 2D, 3D and 4D scans alike so in that particular sense there’s no difference between them at all. However, in terms of the images produced there is indeed a quite important difference.

2D scans are the ‘conventional’ variety carried out for all manner of medical purposes and are characterised by those rather blurry and often unintelligible 2D printouts. Seeing your baby in such a way is always exciting, though there’s a good chance you might find it tricky to know what you’re looking at.

By contrast, a 3D ultrasound scan produces a full 3D image of your baby in vastly more detail than a standard 2D image. And for those going for the full 4D image, this is where it’s possible to see the baby’s movements in the womb in full 3D – the movement itself being the fourth dimension. It’s one thing to see an unborn baby in a still image, but nothing in the world compares to seeing him/her thumb-sucking, smiling, yawning or waving!

3) What Can I Expect At the Scan?

A standard 3D or 4D scan is fast, easy and entirely painless. Chances are you’ll be asked to attend with a full bladder (although not painfully full) as this can help yield a much clearer image. The sonographer will then carry out the scan by passing the ultrasound wand over the lower abdomen to help build the image on the screen. If however this proves unsuccessful or the image isn’t clear enough, you may be offered the option of a trans-vaginal scan – an internal method that’s again 100% painless and can produce the clearest possible images.

4) Is NHS or Private Treatment Preferable?

There’s a good deal of personal preference that comes into the NHS versus private debate, though given the low costs of the latter it’s always worth considering the private option before making a booking. To go with a leading name like Premier Scans for example means appointments that fit around you and your schedule, an exceptionally friendly environment, consummate professionalism, the highest level of privacy, the same practitioner every time and as many copies of the image printouts as you like!

5) Will Pre-Birth Defects Be Noted?

These kinds of scans are not specifically carried out to identify defects and other potential health problems, though if anything is obviously not as it should be on the initial scan, advice will be offered accordingly.

6) How Can I Choose the Best Service Provider?

Choosing the best pregnancy scan service on the market is as simple as taking a look at the options available online and evaluating each option in accordance with patient feedback and general strength of reputation. Again, this comes as something of a bonus as it’s not as if the same vetting process or freedom of choice is possible when booking with the NHS.

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