The Early Pregnancy or ‘dating’ scan, is the first scan you have after you discover you’re pregnant. This can be performed from 6 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period.
You will need to come prepared for this test and by ‘prepared’, we mean ‘with a full bladder’. One hour before your appointment time, empty your bladder then drink 750mL of water and hold on. If you get to a stage where you feel ready to burst you can of course partially empty your bladder so you are more comfortable, but do your best not to empty completely. Easier said than done, we know! Having a full bladder is important for a transabdominal ultrasound of the pelvis as it allows the soundwaves to travel through the fluid in your bladder towards the uterus. When the bladder is not full, visualising and pelvic organs and any possible small pregnancy is exceedingly difficult and sometimes impossible.
In some cases, the sonographer may need to perform an internal ultrasound. This may be due to the position of your uterus or the size of the baby (if it’s tiny). If this is necessary, the sonographer will explain the procedure to you clearly and why you need it. You can read more about the internal ultrasound here.
During the dating scan, either internally or externally, the sonographer will look at the location, number and size of your baby or babies and all structures associated with a pregnancy. They will check for a heartbeat and measure the heart rate if present.
The sonographer will discuss the ultrasound findings with you and tell you the gestational age and estimated due date of your baby. You will receive a small printed image of your baby and all of your images as jpg files on a CD. An official report will be emailed to you, and your referring doctor is applicable, later in the day.
The ultrasound scan is likely to take 15-20 minutes.