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When I found out I was pregnant in January 2010, I couldn't wait to see my baby on the scan, I couldn't quite believe that I was pregnant despite the numerous pregnancy tests I took which were all positive- I just wouldn't believe it until I saw my baby for myself. I worked out I was only around 6 weeks pregnant so I had a long time (ok only 6 weeks...but still a long time when your so excited!!!) to wait before my scan would be due! But I wouldn't have to wait as long as I thought when at 8 weeks pregnant I started getting cramps. It was my first baby and I didn't know what to expect from pregnancy, and so off I trundled to the hospital worried sick. I was given a scan only to be told they could not see anything only the Gestational sac (this develops first in a pregnancy and it is what will become the placenta is I am not mistaken, please feel free to correct me if I am incorrect here and I can change it!!)- no heartbeat BUT it looked like I was 2 weeks further behind in my pregnancy, so sent away to come back in two weeks for another scan, I was in tears, terrified. I was so excited for my first scan and it was all a disaster, I thought I had lost my baby...but 2 weeks later and there on the black grainy screen I saw a tiny flicker, if you didn't know any better, you'd probably not even have noticed it, but that little flicker was the beginnings of my babies life...my beautiful daughter flickering away on a screen...my first glimpse at her life...and it was magical.
Ok so what IS an Ultrasound?
The ultrasound has been used in hospitals from around the 1960s, but their history goes back to the late 16th century when scientists worked out that sounds could be used to "see", just like bats use sonar to get around despite being almost totally blind.
An ultrasound is sonic waves which get thrown into the body and bounce echos back from the organs inside, and anything else which may be there...i.e. a baby...gallstones...kidney stones...tumours etc. It can easily distinguish between solid and fluid within the body, meaning that especially in a scan during pregnancy the picture is very clear. (This is a very simple analogy of an Ultrasound but the basics are the most important part of understanding how they work!). Ultrasounds are still thought to be extremely safe in all cases, both in pregnancy and in other medical circumstances and do not use radiation as with xrays and so are a much "safer" way to look inside the body.
Ultrasounds are used in a variety of circumstances, though they are mostly thought of when we think of pregnancy, during pregnancy an ultrasound is used to gauge how far along a pregnancy is (though it is not always completely accurate with dates!), checking the development of unborn babies, looking for medical deformities or disabilities which may be present and also measuring the baby during the end stages of a pregnancy (though not all mothers will have these later scans!), as well as pregnancy, ultrasounds are used in lots of other medical cases...such as checking for thrombosis of veins in some circumstances, checking for things such as kidney stones and gallstones, looking for tumours in the body in parts such as the testicle, stomach etc. There is a huge range of circumstances which will require an ultrasound, and the majority of people at SOME point in their lives will come across an ultrasound scan in some capacity!
What happens during the scan?
This is the same no matter where the scan is being carried out...
A clear lubriant is applied to the area, this is to help the probe glide across the skin and helps it pick up the echos which are needed to make the pictures for diagnosis or in pregnancy. This is often cold and feels sticky on the skin, but it is nothing to worry about! A small probe is then placed on the body part, and is moved around until the sonographer (the person in charge of doing the scan!) finds what they are looking for, in some cases this may be right away, in others there may be a bit of pressing and moving around, it all depends on position of baby, or in other medical circumstances the ease of "getting to" what they are looking for!
A screen attached to the probe will be next to you, and a grainy black grey and white picture will be on the screen- you may not be able to decipher much from the screen but in cases such as pregnancy the sonographer will show you what they are doing once they have the position correct and verified there is a heartbeat.
The scan may last anything from a few minutes to half an hour, or even more in some cases. It all depends on circumstances- even in pregnancy scans it can differ from a few minutes to anything up to 45 minutes, they may need to send you out to walk around, have a drink, empty your bladder a little and come back an hour later, so a trip to Ultrasound may not always be quick- if this happens, it is nothing to worry about, most of the time it is simply that baby is in a silly position and the ultrasound cannot see what it needs to be able to see, or that baby is asleep and needs waking up for the scan, of that the scan is not clear as the bladder is not full (when pregnant, it is important to have a full bladder as this pushes the uterus upwards meaning a clearer image.
An ultrasound doesn't hurt, but sometimes it may be a little uncomfortable if the sonographer needs to press hard to get a picture, and you may be asked to move to an uncomfortable position for a while for them to get a good clear picture. This is normal and it doesn't mean there is anything wrong- just that again your baby is in a funny position or the thing they are looking for is difficult to see.
Complications with Ultrasounds:
As I mentioned earlier, there is no known affect of ultrasound on unborn babies, or any known adverse affect for the patient receiving the ultrasound...but as they are relatively "new"...only 50 years they have been used in hospitals, it may be unknown for a few more decades if there ARE any known affects of the ultrasound, but for now, nothing is known to be bad about these scans, and they are the best way to see a baby in the womb- or a tumour etc without anything too invasive. There is still a limit to how many scans you will be given during pregnancy, most people will just have the two- and in some hospitals there is only one scan done at 20 weeks gestation, and unless there is cause for concern, no more scans will be done.
The only real problem I ever came across with ultrasounds is my size, I am not a HUGE girl, but I am not small either, and this can make it difficult to get a clear image from ultrasound- my scans were no real problem, but my pictures may not have been as clear as other peoples were...
So whether you are having an ultrasound in pregnancy, or to diagnose something else...Ultrasounds are a doddle, un-invasive and usually relatively quick, they are done on an outpatient basis (unless you are already in hospital of course) and once it is over there is no recovery time, just straight back to work or home, no problems with driving etc.
I thought I would write about my experience of both internal and external ultrasound
As I went through fertility treatment and had treatment called IUI which involved having washed sperm inserted at the time of ovulation. I had to have internal scans to examine look at my ovaries to determine when ovulation was going to happen.
The internal scans are also used during early pregnancy when there is concern of eptopic pregnancy or investigations into other problems as the womb is difficult to see in early pregnancy.
You are asked to empty your bladder before the scan and believe me this is necessary.
I had to lie on a bed with no pants on in the same position as when I have had a smear teat.
The sonographer brings out a very phallic looking probe and covers it with a sheath that just looks like a condom and covers it with a lubricant.
It is inserted into the vagina and is pressed against the bladder to get the scan. This is the point that you are glad that you have emptied your bladder. The sonographer did explain what she could see and show the egg follicles and predict when I needed to return. The whole experience was not painful maybe a little uncomfortable but not one that would worry me if I had to repeat the experience.
The external scan was much more exciting for me as this was first when I was 12 weeks pregnant. I was very nervous for fear that they would find a problem although as I was suffering severe morning sickness at this point I was sure it wasn't a phantom pregnancy.
On this occasion I had to drink plenty water before the scan. It is only the early scans that you need to drink as once the womb has expanded above the pubic bone the baby is much easier to see.
I lay down but this time I just had to pull my skirt down and reveal my tummy. She put some gel on my tummy that was very cold then starts to scan with a probe that she pushes down into my stomach At first the sonographer looks on the monitor herself but this is the heart stopping moment when you are wondering what she is looking at ,can she find a heartbeat. After she had done a few checks she turned the screen round and we finally got to see our baby. At this stage it was too early to see the sex of the baby as the sex organs have not formed at this stage you can however make out the arms and legs and see the heart beat. This is your first view of your baby and is very magical. The sonographer writes up your notes
I had a scan at 20 weeks a which I was very poorly and had been vomiting every ten minutes during the night and told the sonographer that I hadn't got any fluid in my stomach but was reassured that as my pregnancy had progressed she be able to see my baby.
At this scan they would be able to tell the sex if the baby was lying in the right position. I personally didn't want to know .Since I had found out I was pregnant I was convinced I was carrying a boy but wanted to wait till my baby was born to find out however my husband wanted to know so when we were asked we said yes. When she first looked he had his leg up and I thought that we wouldn't be able to see and felt a relief but then she looked from another angle and there was my son with his legs wide open and there was no dispute he was a boy. At this scan as I was feeling so unwell I was extremely relieved he was ok. However he was slightly small for his weeks so I was booked in for growth scans to keep a check on him. After the scan I had to be put on a drip and was admitted to the ward but fortunately I knew my baby was ok.
As my pregnancy progressed a blood condition I carry was detected which can cause anaemia in an unborn baby so I needed consultant scans for a more detailed check. These were held in another area which the monitor is viewable for you so nothing is going on that you can't see. This is in a bigger room and there was a private room in which the results of the scan are discussed and you can have chance to discuss the results with consultant and ask questions in a much more relaxed atmosphere.
In summary they are quite a nervous experience but a chance to check the health of your baby with no risk to its health and a magical chance to see your baby.
I remember the joy and elation myself and my husband felt when we discovered we were going to be parents for the first time. No words can describe the feeling of knowing you have a tiny little life growing inside you and that in 9 months you will be holding a gorgeous tiny baby and be a Mummy & Daddy!!
I discovered I was pregnant when I was 5 weeks gone, so I found out quite early on, we were trying anyway so the minute my period was late I suspected that I could be. The next few weeks for me were agony! I am very impatient anyway and I am also a worrier! So every little niggle and pain I got I automatically presumed the worst and worried that something was wrong with the baby.
Mainly for this reason and to set my mind at rest we decided to pay for an early private scan and had this done at Leeds scanning unit, it cost £90 but for my peace of mind it was worth every penny!!
I had this scan done at 9 weeks; I have to say that when you pay privately for a scan it is a completely different experience to having your routine scan done at the hospital!! Firstly, the environment is much nicer and not as clinical as a hospital. But then again they can afford for it to be like this as they are getting £90 for each scan that takes roughly 15 minutes!!
The one thing I like most about this private scan was that they had a screen on the ceiling so you could see this when you laid down, rather than at the hospitals, the screens are at the side of you so not always easy to view when you are laying down flat!
Before I had this scan I was so scared that something would be wrong and I felt physically sick while I was waiting. We were called in the room and I was asked to lie down on a bed. I then undid the top of my pants and pulled them down slightly so that my tummy was revealed right from the top of my pubic bone, as when the baby is so tiny they have to get very low down as it hasn't grown up past the pubic bone by this stage.
The doctor squeezed some cold gel onto my tummy which helps the scanner to scan more effectively and put some tissue around the top of my clothes so that the gel didn't get everywhere!
The moment of truth then arrived for the scan to start. The doctor rubbed the scanning implement all over my tummy and applied a bit of pressure so that she could find the baby. The first thing we heard was our precious boys' heartbeat; I was so relieved that everything was ok that i broke down into tears. The sonographer than went on to show us our tiny little baby boy. The scan was amazing, at only 9 weeks, she pointed out our son's heart, lungs, stomach and bladder. We could see the buds that the arms and legs would grow from and the complete outline of a perfectly formed little boy. We didn't know he was a boy at this stage as we wanted it to be a surprise!! After the scan we were give 10 pictures of our baby and a DVD to view! I would definitely get an early scan again, I am too much of a worrier to wait till 12 weeks for a scan and I think £90 is a small price to pay to stop me worrying!
I then had a routine NHS scan at 12 weeks and 20 weeks. I have to say that the staff at the hospital were great but the experience was nowhere near as nice as the private scan. But again the hospital don't get paid a fortune for this and have a lot of people to see throughout the day so do the best that they can under the circumstances.
The scan procedure was pretty much the same as outline above and they do give you one photo of the scan, if you want any more copies you have to pay for these, so we just opted for the one!!
Every scan I went to was one of the most precious and wonderful experiences of my life. I knew I had a baby growing inside me, but to actually see the baby in flesh and blood and get a tiny insight into what it looks like was just the most amazing thing ever! It is also a very reassuring thing to have done, as you get to find out if there are any problems with the baby, so this really set my mind at ease to know that everything was ok.
I have thus far had 3 ultrasounds, 2 NHS and 1 private, and have also managed to get 3 completely different experiences. My first ultrasound was a routine 20 week scan (anomally scan) at the local hospital. I had read various things on this scan and was looking forward to my first opportunity to see the baby. Unfortunately it turned out to be a very stressful experience. I understood that the purpose of this ultrasound was to check for any abnormalities, so I was a little scared that they might find something wrong, which thankfully they didn't. My experience wasn't great purely because the sonographer I got must've been having a bad day. The scan took about 5 minutes, I didn't get to see any of it, and at the end I asked whether everything was okay with the baby. The lady who had performed the scan would not make eye contact and said someone would be out to speak to me. I went back to the waiting room contemplating what this meant, and concluded it was not good news. Surely if everything was normal she would have said so. Anyway I spent 20 minutes waiting before someone came out to get me. This sonographer was much friendlier and explained that the baby was just laying in a position where they couldn't see anything so they were hoping he would have moved. I wished I could have been told that by the first sonographer, and still cannot see any reason for her not saying 'everything I am able to see looks fine'. The second sonographer showed me the baby and pointed out where the head, arms, legs etc were, and I was so pleased to finally see my baby.
After this first scan I felt a little unsure because it seemed quiet rushed. I had read an anomally scan should take at least 20 minutes, and between 2 different sonographers mine would have taken no more than 10 minutes. It was then that I decided to pay for a private scan.
From the minute I walked through the doors of the clinic it was different. They were open on weekends, which meant my husband could come and the overall experience was worth every penny. The premises and equipment were modern, the room the scan was done in had a separate monitor set up for the parents to watch the entire scan, and I felt much more confident with the attention to detail that was taken during the scan. The lady who performed the scan was friendly and very informative, and just generally made it a pleasant experience.
I had another follow up scan through the NHS, as the baby wouldn't move into the right position at the first scan. This scan too left me feeling like the NHS need twice as many staff. I waited for minutes, was rushed in and then rushed out the door just as quick.
I think overall, ultrasounds are not only a vital part of pregnancy from a medical standpoint, but also from a bonding perspective. It doesn't matter how many positive pregnancy tests you see, nothing makes it more real than being able to see the little person. And at the same time medical staff are able to gain vital information about the overall health and well being of a baby.
After having 3 children i have a fair bit of experience in the scanning department, from the fears of getting on the table and the scanner suddenly saying 'i'm sorry miss x there is no baby, you must of imagined it' (i had nightmares with all 3 kids) to 'please sit down mr x there are 3 babies in there'. I am glad to say this has happened on no occassions.
Now i have read the other reviews on here and everything that has been said about the 12 and 20 week scans has been spot-on and excellently put BUT my review is going to focus on the most amazing experience of my entire life (along with meeting my babies for the first time, and yes each one was just as special) and that was my 4D/3D scan. My third child was highly unplanned but eagerly anticipated and as i knew this was to be my last child (probably...... for a while......lol) i decided i wanted to see him before D D Day! (i knew it was a him from the 20-week growth scan)
Now, i started researching the market and there are a ton of companies out there that provide 3-d scanning - a quick google will throw up many choices but i knew straight away that i wanted someone local. A 32-34 week pregnant woman driving or waddling too far is a not too comfortable thing to do and the thought of the commute to London town was just unbearable. Luckily i found a company locally and made my choice. Baby Premier (babypremier.co.uk) - i booked on the phone and paid there and then to ensure a stress free time to meet my third born!
I received my details quickly through the post and the choice of appointment was perfect - i had my appointment within 2 weeks and finally the day came. I was 34 weeks pregnant when i arrived outside the building and parked my car. I decided to go alone as i felt this was quite a private experience. I chose to birth with just my mum the third time but the uselessness men in the delivery room is a seperate subject. Much better he be at home with the older children :)
When i arrived i could immediately tell this was a private clinic - it was beautiful. I entered the waiting room with my cup of herbal tea and was called in very quickly. I assumed they would do the scan, i'd see my baby and take my piccies home. Not so - it took 2 attempts and long walks around the town to shift the baby into a position that would mean i could actually see his face and apparently i was one of the lucky ones that day. The third time we got lucky and i finally got to see my baby in his full glory.
Inside my tummy he floated with his perfectly formed nose and hands. This scan has no diagnostic or medical value but the enjoyment level is immense! I felt like i had entered a secret world and was grinning from ear to ear at the cutest button nose i had ever seen and those chubby little arms and cheeks.
The sonogropher chose the best images (about 12) and put them onto a cd for me and i got about 6 printed pictures for a grand total of £115 - it was the best value for money and something i will never have over again. I also got to show family pictures of baby before he was born (albeit only 4 weeks as he decided to make an early appearance) - i now have a frame with his newborn photo in the centre and a 3d scan picture either side.
To clarify you see the images on a screen in real time and this is 4-D but the still pictures are 3-D - you can have a dvd of your image moving and doing the 4-D things for a small extra cost. The packages available are
a 4D ultrasound scan and a supply of 3D black & white prints which is £95 for a single baby and £145 for twins, upgrade to the 4D ultrasound scan and a supply of 3D black & white prints along with CD Rom of still images with a free bag and case for the cd (which is the package i chose) for £115 for a single baby and £165 for twins and finally the luxury package includes a 4D ultrasound scan and a supply of 3D black & white prints with 4D DVD scan recording with the free bag and case for £125 single baby and £175 for twins. I also understand you can buy the cd stills for an additional cost.
This company (info available on website) also do diagnostic testing, sex determination, growth scans and much much more.
I really recommend this and for those of you who have pregnant friends club together and buy vouchers for possibly one of the best presents you can ever give!
I have one child already and I am currently pregnant again. So I know a little bit about the Ultrasound scanning process. At about 12 weeks of pregnancy ( sometimes earlier if there are complications or a history of twins ). When you go for your first scan you should have the sonographer ( the person doing the scan ) explain to you what they are going to do. My sonographer was lovely and really put me at ease. You have a warm jelly put onto your tummy and the ultra sound machine has a probe on it that is rubbed across your tummy to see the pictures of your baby on the monitor. It is painless, but can take a while if your baby is not behaving. They look at all he main organs to see if everything is developing as it should, and assess your risk of having a Downs baby. You also have a blood test at your first scan and this is also used to calculate your Downs risk. The next routine scan is at 20 weeks where they can tell you the sex of your baby. If all is going well this is the final scan you will have, if not you will be called for further scans. I am pregnant with twins, so from my 20 week scan onwards I have to have them monthly until the end, Yippie!!
During my pregnancy I had 12 scans.
My first was at 8 weeks due to going to A&E with abdominal pains, my next was my usual dating scan at 14 weeks, my 20 week scan, I had a 4D scan at 26 weeks and had togo back for another the week after, we found out our daughter was measuring small and I didn't have a lot of fluid so from 30 weeks I had weekly growth scans. We found out we were having a girl on our first growth scan as we figured we may aswell find out seeing as we were going to be seeing her every week on that little screen.
I will never forget the feeling of seeing her at 8 weeks a tiny little flashing blob and being so relieved she was okay and finally I could believe I was pregnant. Then I had my 14 week scan and I was so amazed by the difference - she was a baby with fingers and toes!! She looked perfect. At our 4D scan it was lovely to see her properly she was yawning and sucking her thumb, she even looked like she smiled.
I am in two minds whether having them growth scans acheived anything. I was induced at 38 weeks because of her growth yet when she was born she was 6lb15oz - a perfectly healthy weight. But then if I hadnt of had these scans and they had let me go overdue who knows what would of happened. I just hope next time it doesnt take me paying for a 4D scan to find out there is a problem and they will keep an eye on me.
Ultrasound scanning is a great piece of technology and has come far within the last 10 years or so. The detail they can go into on an untrasound is amazing and helps both mother and baby. I was having twins so i frequently had scans which were usually every fortnight. It was important i had so many scans to make sure my girls didnt develop twin to twin as they were identical. But every time i went the sonographer put jelly on my belly (even warmed it for me) then she would firstly show me the babies then would take measurements of their tummys, bladders, spines, legs all of which they entered into a computer and it told you how big they were and if they were on average for their gestation but also they could tell you roughly how much they would weigh. I was so relieved to have scans every fortnight it really puts your mind at ease to know your babies are fine. I also think it amazing how they can tell if the baby will have any special difficulties etc. Great piece of technology.
Without a doubt ultrasounds are an incredible piece of technology when you are pregnant.
I have mixed experiences. My first ultrasound was to confirm that a pregnancy had failed, which was awfully traumatic but that confirmation was what we needed in order to accept it and to grieve. Without it, we would have gone on waiting and hoping in vain. I didn't see the image as I was too inconsolable to look.
My first successful ultrasound was at the 12 week stage with this pregnancy and suddenly the baby became completely real for us. I didn't want to move. I just wanted to stay there watching the little chap forever, well until he was ready to come out that is! The detail was amazing. Even at 12 weeks, we could see 5 little finger tips on each hand (although in the printed scan picture there are actually 6 fingertips on each. I will report back on this after the birth!!!!) We had a really great picture of the baby's facial profile and I knew instantly it would have my husband's lips. It was a mirror image of a picture I have of him when he was 3 months old.
The second scan, at around 20 weeks had a lot more detail. The doctor looked inside the chambers of the heart and we could see every beat. Again, it was incredible. I only wish we could have more scans. It seems like such a long time since we've seen our baby and although I get to feel him kick every day, it just isn't the same as watching him in his safe little world. (For one thing, the kicks are a lot more uncomfortable!) Although the second scan had more detail, I left feeling disappointed. I think this was down to the attitude of the doctor who wasn't interested in making it a great experience for us but was just concentrating on the measurements she needed to take. Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing! I am glad she took her job so seriously. But for me, although I was desperate for everything to be ok with my baby, I just wanted to enjoy watching him.
So, all in all, ultrasounds are an amazing invention. They pick up important medical information and can check for any abnormalities, which I know from experience is a tremendous thing. The pictures you get are your most treasured possession and I guarantee you will have a peek at them at least every other day throughout your pregnancy, searching for any little bits of your baby that you might have missed before!
An NHS ultrasound will last anything from 10 minutes to half an hour. Your experience will depend on how positive you feel about the pregnancy and what you want to get out of it but will also heavily rely on the doctor that performs it.
You can pay for private scans starting at about £150. For more like £200 you can get a 3d or 4d scan where you can see a much better image of your baby that will give you a really good idea of how it will look. I have avoided this. I don't like the pictures. To me they seem a bit weird. Also, I want a surprise. I am enjoying wondering what my little baby will look like. Those have been the happiest moments during my pregnancy and I would not want them to be taken away by a 4d scan.
Over the course of the last 5 years or so I have had cause to have four ultrasound scans. Two pregnancies and two scans for each. Both were amazing experiences that I would not have missed for the world.
Generally, every pregnant woman will receive two ultrasound scans during the gestation period (at least in my area of the world anyway) and these are usually at 12 weeks pregnant and 20 weeks pregnant.
##WHAT IS AN ULTRASOUND SCAN##
Well, the technical bit tells me that it is a machine used which sends harmless sound waves through the abdominal wall into the uterus and sends back the results in the form of a picture. All clever stuff but what does this mean to the everyday pregnant person.
Basically you will enter the antenatal clinic, which may be in your local hospital or in a health clinic and you will be asked to lie on the table. Lifting up your top, the sonographer will dollop some very cold jelly substance on your tummy and then switching on a machine, similar to a computer monitor, they will spread the jelly over your tummy using a viewing device. Its almost like a scanner machine at the checkout and they wipe it over the jelly, over your womb area and it picks up the pictures of the baby growing inside you.
From this procedure they can view all sorts of aspects of your pregnancy, from telling you how far along you are based on the length and head circumference of the foetus, to seeing if the baby has any abnormalities or heart conditions for example. Luckily for me, my babies were healthy and growing well both times but this is not always the case and having an ultrasound scan and detecting abnormalities early enough will give the parents time to consider their options.
A number of major abnormalities can be detected at various stages of pregnancy and during the 12 week scan the medical assitantant will measure the thickness of fluid at the back of the foetus' neck. This is used to calculate the risk of the foetus having a chromosome abnormality (like Down's Syndrome) and is called The Nuchal Translucency Measurement.
The later scan at around 20 weeks can focus more on growth as the features of the baby are all so much clearer. The spine, skull, brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, arms and legs are the usual parts to be examined during this scan and the medical assistant would usually check to ensure they are healthy and growing according to expectations.
You will sometimes be able to have another scan during the third trimester of your pregnancy (28-40 weeks). This would usually be to check the growth of the baby if the midwife feels you are carrying a below or above average weight baby. If you are carrying twins or more you are much mor likely to have more frequent scans in the later stages of pregnancy to ensure everything is growing and remaining as healthy as it should.
The other aspect of the ultrasound scan, and actually one of the most important and exciting for me, is to see what sex your baby is. This is not done unless you ask usually, and in some areas they will not tell you at all. I live in an area where they do, thankfully, and I found out both times at the 20-week scan, when the foetus is developed enough for them to see.
The 12-week scan will usually be to make sure the baby is alive and well and also to see if it is a single or multiple pregnancy. On both of my scans I wished for twins, (mad I know!) but found out they were singleton pregnancies, but can imagine the shock on some peoples faces when they see two, three or even four little shapes inside them!
It is not just the baby that is examined during the scan, but the placenta and the umbilical cord are all checked to make sure they are healthy and functioning as they should to ensure all vital blood flow, oxygen and nutrients are reaching the baby.
##TYPES OF SCANS AVAILABLE##
The NHS will usually provide one or two as stated earlier, at 12 and 20 weeks pregnant. These will be done in 2D style, where the images on screen and in the print outs appear flat, and are all coloured in whites, greys and blacks depending on the image coming back.
However in more recent years you can have 3D scans where you can see still pictures of your baby but they are not flat looking like the conventional 2D scans the NHS do, or 4D scans done privately, and although these are a lot of money to have done, are really fabulous if you are into seeing your baby inside the womb. The 4D scan pictures especially are amazing to look at. The come out in a more brown coloured view and they are amazingly life like. Almost like looking at the real thing. Well, you are looking at the real thing, but instead of it being a flat picture it is rounded and you can identify the shapes amazing well. It is exactly like looking at your baby growing on the TV, you can see the baby moving inside you and you will usually be presented with a DVD or video of the scan rather than a still picture. For an idea of the price of a 4D scan, if you can find a private health clinic who do them, it will set you back somewhere in the region of £200 based on a quick research on the Internet. This is a lot of money and I certainly could not have afforded it at the time but if I had the money I would have jumped at the chance. Your child will never be seen in that light again and pregnancy is so amazing I would have loved to have experienced that.
Well, no review would be complete without some personal experience so heres what I felt and experienced during the four I have been lucky enough to attend.
The first ever scan I had done was when I was 12 weeks pregnant with my first child. We had been trying to get pregnant for nearly two years so when it finally happened I couldnt wait to make sure it was definitely in there and arrived at the hospital about half an hour early! I had been asked to make sure I had a full bladder, by drinking a few glasses of water a little while before. This is pretty uncomfortable, but was necessary at the time as it allows the pelvis to be lifted away from the uterus to enable a better view when scanning. Anyway, sitting with my legs crossed we were eventually called in and I lay on the table in anticipation.
She put on the gel, over my abdomen and turned on the machine. Turning the monitor round so my husband and I could see too, she started to run the scanner over my tummy. Immediately I could make out the shape of my baby, but as it was only 12 weeks it was quite small and not always easy to identify areas, such as arms and legs etc. The feeling I had is so hard to describe. I had waited so long to see this little baby inside me and finally he was there. I didnt know he was a he at the time though. Immediate love rushed through me, directed at that funny black and white shape on the screen. I knew I was truly pregnant at that point, because although I had done a couple of positive tests I had had no other signs of pregnancy like morning sickness etc.
The sonographer managed to take a picture from the scan for us with his little arm sticking up in the air, so it was easily identifiable. We made a donation in the box provided for the picture and left feeling on top of the world.
Having two step sons already that we had living with us 50% of the time, I really wanted a girl for my first pregnancies so on our 20 week scan, we went along and everything was the same as the 12 week scan, except I did not need to have a full bladder this time. We asked the sex of the baby and were told it was a boy. This sounds horrible but I was really disappointed. Some might say this is why it is best not to ask what the sex is but I am still 100% pleased I found out then. I was disappointed for about an hour afterwards and then got over it. I was overwhelmed that I was finally having a baby so the sex of it was really not as important as I had first thought. My reasons for being pleased I found out at the scan were that if I had experienced that feeling of disappointment at the birth it may have affected my immediate bonding with my son and that would have been awful. To experience the disappointment while he was still inside me and being able to get over that at my own pace was much better for me and him.
Needless to say the next pregnancy, brought much of the same in procedure, although if I remember rightly I did not need a full bladder for the 12 weeks scan. This was at a different hospital though so maybe procedure changes from place to place.
The only difference here was that at the 20-week scan when she said it was a girl, I burst into tears on the table! The pictures on screen were much more identifiable than the 12 weeks scan, as the baby is that much bigger. We even saw her face quite clearly with eyes, nose and mouth! Happiness abound, I floated home that day!
Ultrasound scans have been a positive experience for me, both times and I would definitely advise all parents to be, to have one although I have read that it is your final decision that counts and you dont have to have one if you choose not to. Personally I would have had one every week if I had been allowed and would have loved every minute of it.
I hope this may have allayed any fears you had or queries or just plain old curiosity and if you are pregnant and due a scan, enjoy it! xx
I have only had three ultrasound scans. Two were with my now three month old daughter and the other was in an earlier pregnancy that turned out to be a blighted ovum (i.e. there was no baby in the pregnancy sac). The first scan I went into without any knowledge of what it might show and was ignorant in the fact that I was pregnant and that was that. I had to wait an hour and a half before actually being seen and couldn't bring myself to look at the screen for some reason. I even joked with the person doing the scan whether there was anything actually there. I will never forget the look on her face. An actual scan consists of lying on an examination table with your belly out and having some lubricating jelly squeezed onto your skin. The jelly used to be cold to the skin but on my last two scans it was warm like Ralgex. A handheld scanner is then rubbed over the jelly on your skin and a picture of your insides will appear on a monitor. For your first scan it is useful to have a full bladder so they can identify it and dismiss it. There are also things called internal scans which use a different type of probe and is inserted internally for a closer picture. I have also had one of these scans and they are not very nice to say the least. For my next two scans I read up on what they would be looking for and went into the examination with my eyes wide open. I was prepared for the worst but happily there was nothing apparently wrong and my daughter was just beginning her journey. I had my next scan at 21 weeks pregnant and was amazed to be able to see her sucking her thumb and moving around. So much so that the examinator asked me to walk around the room to see if I could move her so she could see all four chambers of her heart. At both scans I was nervous and scared and I think the worrying is not good for you. On the other hand it is good to actually find out whether the pregnancy is progressing well and that there are no problems
. When I was told that there was something wrong with my first pregnacy my mind went blank and I felt numb. There is nothing to compare with the joy of seeing your child in its first stages growing inside you but also the other side of the coin is just as powerful an emotion. You can leave that room feeling on top of the world or like the bottom has just fell out of it.
When I actually got to the hospital to have my first scan, it occured to me that I had no idea what was going to happen. I've been doing a lot of reading and swotting up, but most information says something to the effect of 'and then you have an ultrasound scan which should show you a few things." In light of this, I thought I would spell it out in a bit more detail for the benefit of everyone else. What is a scan? A scan uses ultrasound to 'look' into your body. It is not intrusive, imagine it as being what a dolphin might see if it saw you swimming (I remember reading that dolphins are fascinated by pregnant women). It doesn't hurt, and as far as anyone can tell, it posses no risks to you or the baby. The image is blurry and in black and white, but it should give you a fair idea of what your baby is looking like. It always looks better on the screen because you can follow the baby's movement, the printed out photos always make a lot less sense. Durning a normal pregnancy, you get two scans, one at about three months, one at about five. These can determin many things about you and your baby. If everything is fine, they are a lovely occasion, if not then I suspect it is rather traumatic. The medical profession consider scans to be necessary, and if you don't get them for any reason, you are likely to be treated as a high risk pregnancy just because they don't have much information about what is going on. The three month scan: You need to fill your bladder as best you can. Take your bloke, as this is something he ought to share with you. If you can't take your bloke, take, mum, sister, best friend or the like. When you turn up at the hopsital, you will be directed to a scan room. You will have one of those bed like things they use in Doctor's surgeries to lie on, or something of that ilk. Wear something you can easily pull up/and or down to give access to your tum - jogging bottoms are good. Also
don't wear something totally clean. Whoever does the scan will smear jelly on your tum (and possibly onto your clothing if you aren't careful - hence don't get someting fresh out of the wash) A small device is then placed on your tum, and, looking at the monitor screen, you will get your first look at your baby. At three weeks, it will actually look a lot like a baby, with all of the regular features formed. This is very reassuring (especially if, like me, you had been envisaging a geren dragon, a tea tray, or some other non-human creature.) How much you see will depend upon how much your baby moves - we saw a hand, a face in profile, and a lot of wriggling about, as well as a tum with liquid in it! It was amazing. Take hankies, it might make you cry. What do you learn? How many babies there are, whether your womb is looking healthy, how big the baby is (which suggests a delivery date) and some idea of how normal you baby seems based on size and visible features. There's not a vast amount they can pick up at this stage because everything is still small, but the general indications can be very helpful. it is hugely reassuring to be told that you and your baby are looking well. You can have images printed out from this. if there are problems potentialy, they can start planning for them at once. its also very useful to know just how many feet are due to be pattering about your house as triplet surprise is a bit of a nightmare. The second scan: Somewhere around five months, they will take another look at you - the process is identical. At this stage they can again asses the health of your womb and the growth of the baby. They can usually tell gender, and many problems can be identified. You can get a good idea of how well formed the babies organs and bones are duing this scan, and if there is anything wrong, there is a good chance it will be picked up. Knowing the gender may be optional, it depends a lot on what your baby dec
ides to wave in front of the camera! If the baby is underdeveloped or showing signs of being unwell, you will be given advice, support and further tests as appropriate ( obviosuly this will vary a lot depending on what the problem is.) Most babies are normal, fine, healthy and largely untroubled. Finding out that your unborn child has a problem is traumatic, (Ok, I'm speaking from guesswork not expereince here)but in many cases it means that intervention can begin at the earliest possible date, which may well save your child's life, or improve the quality of life they have. It's important to have the scan, and there is no reason to fear it. If nothing is wrong (and the odds are on this) then seeing your baby is an inspiring and really uplifting expereince. General advice: Take someone with you, ideally your partner, because you may well end up getting quite emotional and wobbly. Really do try for that full bladder, however uncomfortable it gets because the more you have in your bladder, the better the image. Be aware that the first trip to the hospital might also include some routine blood tests - mine did and I wasn't quite expecting it. The blood test done at three months isn't too bad - doesn't take long and isn't too painful. They test for various stds, for anaemia, and to establish your blood type. Again well worth having someone there to hold your hand. I'm a fan of the can, i think its a good thing to do, it is very exciting. It is worth having some idea of what will happen to you though - hospitas are confusing places at the best of times, and even for soemthing as begnine as this, there's a lot to be said for being forewarned.
Our third pregnancy didn't go as planned. I delivered a small for term stillborn baby boy, even though I had attended my 20 week scan and baby was growing nicely. If we had have been given a later scan, the growth defect may have been detected. We were told subsequent pregnancies would be monitored with fetal growth scans. We now have an absolutely beautiful little boy who we were able to see once a fortnight before he was even born, thanks to the scan. Being told the growing size and weight every fortnight might spoil the surprise for some. But for us this was the best thing you could ask for,in the way of comfort,knowing that everything is going to be alright. We will never forget the pictures of him sucking his thumb or sticking his tongue out. These pictures will stay with us for a very long time, thanks to todays technology. We have ten scan photos, pride of place in his photo album, if you like, you could say the before and after shots!.
Isnt it wonderful how things have changed in such a short time. Oh how I envy pregnant Mums today able to have an ultra sound and to have a picture of their unborn baby. When I was expecting my first (no this isnt a here we go..) there was no such thing. By the time I had my third in the mid 80s the scan had just come to Princes Margarets hospital in Swindon. It was the good and bad news. Not only could I hear the heart beating as I could with my first and second but I could see my third babies picture up on the screen. Like all Mums I was thrilled and when she waved to me, well I still smile at that scene today. The sadness was that the room was so small that they only let the mum in and the Dads had to wait outside. So my Husband never ever saw this. When I had finished the scan and told him what I could see he was so fascinated and wished he could have seen it. Little did we know in years to come not only would Dads be able to see it but you could have a photograph taken too. If that has happened in such a short space of time it makes you wonder doesnt it what new thing will be around in 15 years!
WHEN I HAD MY FIRST ULTRASOUND SCAN I REMEMBER DREDDING THAT IT SHOW A PROBLEM WITH MY BABY IF THERE WAS A BABY THERE AFTER ALL, LUCKILY MOST SCANS SHOW THAT THE CHILD IS PERFECTLY NORMAL SO THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. I WAS UNLUCKY WITH MY SCAN AS MY BABY WAS LYING WITH MOST OF IT IN MY WOMB SO I COULD NOT MAKE MUCH OUT EXCEPT THAT IT WAS A BOY, THATS WHY I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW 3D SCANS BECAUSE THEY ARE SO CLEAR AND YOU GET TO HAVE A PROPER LOOK AT YOUR BABY AND ITS FEATURES. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE ONE OF THESE SCANS TO LOOK AT THE BABY I AM CURRENTLY EXPECTING, SO IF ANYONE KNOWS A HOSPITAL WITH ONE PLEASE POST YOUR OPINIONS.