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Ultrasound – why all these scans, what will I see?

Congratulations, you’re about to embark on a life-changing journey and become a new mum!

It’s such an exciting time, however as you start planning the next few months it can become a little overwhelming. Between doctors appointments, looking after your newly pregnant body and shopping for baby clothes, it can be hard to wrap your head around everything you need to do before your bundle of joy enters the world.

One of the most common types of appointments during pregnancy is the ultrasound. Ultrasounds are carried out periodically throughout your pregnancy. Here at Grace Private we have tertiary level sonographers performing your scans alongside Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist Dr Adriana Olog on site. Dr Olog reviews all of your images, ensuring you receive the highest quality ultrasound of your baby. Our boutique, friendly environment will help you feel reassured after every scan.

What is a pregnancy ultrasound?

As part of your pregnancy, ultrasounds are used to monitor your baby’s development and check for any abnormalities.

During the ultrasound your sonographer can check:

  • how many embryos
  • your due date – (what is your baby’s gestational age)
  • the sex of your baby
  • the measurements of your baby
  • the structural development of your baby
  • the amount of amniotic fluid
  • the position of the placenta and cervix.

How often should you have ultrasounds during pregnancy?

Every pregnancy is different, but some of the pregnancy ultrasound scans you may have include:

Dating scan – We recommend an early ultrasound scan around 7 weeks gestation, particularly if you’re unsure of the date of your last menstrual period or are having any pain or bleeding.

A heartbeat can be detected at this scan and the sonographer can determine your due date. Prior to 6 weeks, you may be too early for anything to be detected on ultrasound, so sometimes it’s best to wait that extra week.

What will you see? You will see an embryonic sac, the yolk sac, a tiny embryo, and even a heartbeat. You may even see your baby move a little or tiny arms and legs if you are a little further along than 8 weeks

Pre-NIPT viability scan – Your doctor may have discussed Down’s Syndrome screening options with you. If you have chosen to proceed with Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), your doctor may refer you to have this performed here at Grace Private. This can be performed after 10 weeks and you will receive a viability scan prior to having your blood collected.  This way we can ensure your pregnancy appears healthy and is developing correctly.  After the scan you will be directed to the phlebologists to have your blood collected.

Early Structural Scan (12-14 weeks) – If you have had an NIPT or do not wish to have first trimester Down’s Syndrome screening, the next scan that is often performed is the Early Structural Scan.

This is similar to the Nuchal Translucency Scan, however we aren’t assessing the risk as if you have had NIPT, you will have your risk result from this screening test. This scan is primarily for women who have had a Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) blood test instead of a Nuchal Translucency Scan.

Now that your baby is looking more like ‘a baby’, we can take a closer look at how your baby is developing. We will measure the Nuchal Translucency thickness as it can still be a marker for other conditions the NIPT does not look for.  With our innovative equipment we can also check for early signs of Spina Bifida, heart defects and other structural concerns.

What will you see? Now you may be able to see its limbs and features in greater detail. We’ll also take 3D and 4D pictures of your baby and send them to your smartphone!

Nuchal Translucency Scan (12 weeks)  – This is also known as the first trimester scan. At this scan your sonographer will screen for Down’s Syndrome (T21), Edwards Syndrome (T18) and Patau’s Syndrome (T13) by measuring the amniotic fluid at the back of the baby’s neck. When this measurement is thicker than normal it can be an early sign of these conditions. This scan is also combined with a first trimester screening blood test that includes free BhCG and PAPP-A.

What will you see? By now you can see your developing baby, which is about the size of a plum. Your baby will be moving, waving its arms and swallowing. It may also be possible to get a glimpse of your baby’s gender at this scan.  We’ll also take 3D and 4D pictures of your baby and send them to your smartphone!

Early Morphology Scan (16 weeks) – The 16-week scan isn’t a standard scan, but may be requested by your referring doctor if there are particular risks associated with your pregnancy. It gives your sonographer another chance to look at your baby, as well as your cervix if this is requested.

This scan may be scheduled if you’re at higher risk because of previous pregnancy complications, have family history of genetic conditions, if you’re carrying twins or triplets or to monitor your cervix. Your sonographer will measure the baby, check the development of its spine, its movement and listen to its heartbeat.

What will you see? Now your baby is more like the size of an avocado and you can see more defined facial features. Your baby will appear to have longer limbs and it’s very mobile. You might even see your baby sucking its thumb!

Morphology Ultrasound (19-20 weeks) – This scan allows your sonographer to look at your baby’s structural development, your baby’s size, the length of your cervix and the position of your placenta.

At this scan the sonographer will measure your baby’s head, abdomen and limbs to ensure your baby is growing at the right rate.  We will also examine your baby’s face, heart, spine, abdominal wall, stomach, kidneys, bladder, arms, legs, hands and feet, the umbilical cord and assess whether the amount of amniotic fluid is in normal range.

With our specially trained sonographer’s, the detailed assessment of your baby at this scan is second to none, with Dr Olog reviewing your baby and allowing you to feel reassured your baby has had a thorough checkup.

What will you see? This is the big scan parents get excited about and you’ll receive more 3D and 4D photos sent to your smartphone.

Growth Ultrasound Scan (less than 23 weeks) –  There are some cases where we wish to monitor your baby’s growth and these additional growth scans can help us keep track of your baby’s development as well as your cervix and placenta.

This may be a routine scan your doctor has requested, so we can get an estimate of your baby’s size or reassess structure that was indicated on the morphology scan.  It may also be indicated if your pregnancy is high risk.  Blood flows are also assessed at these scans that can tell us about your baby’s well being.

At Grace Private we are specially trained sonographer’s working with Dr Olog who specialises in high risk pregnancies. This means you can rest assured you are receiving the best possible scan and assessment of your baby and your placenta.

What will you see? As time goes on you will see your baby looking more plump as it puts on weight and continues to grow. We endeavour to get some great 3D and 4D images for you, so these will of course be sent to your smartphone, however please be aware at larger gestations some babies may hide or are too squashed in for any images to be obtained. We will do our best to catch that cheeky face of course!

High Risk Pregnancies, Second Opinions and Invasive Procedures

Unfortunately, you may be referred for reasons identified on the scans and further assessment of your baby is required.  With Dr Olog, this is our speciality.  A thorough assessment of your baby and pregnancy can be completed by our highly trained sonographers, as well as a consultation with Dr Olog.  You will receive a thorough explanation and any questions you may have will be discussed.

Depending on the reason for your referral, an invasive procedure such as a CVS or Amniocentesis may be offered.  We can perform these in our rooms.  Our caring team will ensure you are cared for to the highest standard during this journey – you can be sure you’re in the best hands.

Pregnant Bellyjpg

Where do I go to book my pregnancy ultrasound?

Your doctor or obstetrician will provide a referral for all pregnancy ultrasounds. At Grace Private we accept all referrals from any practice.  Simply call or email our rooms and our friendly team will help ensure you are booked for the correct appointment.

At Grace Private we offer a unique boutique ultrasound service for all our patients. We use the latest 3D and 4D ultrasound technology and they are conducted right here onsite by our tertiary level sonographers and reviewed by our Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Dr Adriana Olog.

If you choose to embark on your pregnancy journey with Grace, you can be sure that from your very first ultrasound to delivery and beyond, we’re here to provide you with the highest level of personalised care. Just ‘ask for Grace’ when you see your GP or specialist.

Blog post written by

Dr Adriana Olog

Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist & Obstetrician

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