What is an Ultrasound?
An ultrasound scan, sometimes called a sonogram, is a procedure that uses high - frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body.
An ultrasound scan can be used to monitor an unborn baby, diagnose a condition, or guide a surgeon during certain procedures.
Baby Scans/ Pregnancy Ultrasound
A pregnancy ultrasound is an imaging test that uses high frequency sound waves to create pictures of a baby in the womb, as well as the mother’s reproductive organs.
Along with a standard ultrasound (2D), there are a number of different, more advanced, ultrasounds—including a 3D ultrasound, a 4D ultrasound, and a fetal echocardiography, which is an ultrasound that looks in detail at the fetus’ heart.
2D Ultrasound baby Scan
This is a ‘standard’ or ‘conventional’ ultrasound scan which provides an image in two dimensions. During these 2D scans, parents can see position of the baby and visible heart beat. 2D scans are therefore still the most common form of ultrasound
3D Ultrasound baby Scan
A 3D ultrasound follows the same procedure as a standard ultrasound, but uses a special probe and software to create the 3D image. It also requires special training for the technician, so it may not be as widely available.
Unlike a traditional 2D ultrasound, a 3D ultrasound allows you to see the width, height and depth of the baby and sonographers and parents can also view baby’s hands, feet and face. These images can also be recorded for parents to keep.
4D Ultrasound baby Scan
A 4D ultrasound may also be called a dynamic 3D ultrasound. Unlike other ultrasounds, a 4D ultrasound creates a moving video of the fetus. This creates a better image of the baby’s face and movements. A 4D ultrasound is also better able to capture highlights and shadows. A 4D ultrasound is done in a similar manner to other ultrasounds, but with special equipment.
How to Prepare for a Baby Scan?
- In order to get a clear image of your baby in the earlier part of the pregnancy, you may need to have a full bladder during your ultrasound.
- However, your bladder should not be so full that it causes pain. If your bladder is very full and painful, you should empty a small amount so that you are more comfortable.
- You should drink two to three eight-ounce glasses of water one hour before your scheduled ultrasound.
- About 20-30 minutes before the scan you should have sweet drink or a chocolate which may be help to get the baby moving.
- If you’re having a scan in early pregnancy, you’ll need to drink a few glasses of water beforehand. A full bladder helps the ultrasound echoes to reach your womb, giving the sonographer a good view of your baby.
- You shouldn't be asked to fill your bladder for scans in the third trimester. At this stage, your baby is much bigger and the amniotic fluid around him will help conduct the echoes to create the image on the screen.
- You should not urinate before your ultrasound, so you arrive at your appointment with a full bladder.
What Happens During the Scan?
Baby Scans are performed mainly using transabdominal ultrasound (scan through the maternal abdomen).
Most scans are carried out by specially trained staff called sonographers. The procedure is carried out in a dimly lit room so the sonographer is able to get good images of your baby. You will first be asked to lie on a couch. You will then be asked to lower your skirt or trousers to your hips and raise your top to your chest.
The sonographer will put ultrasound gel on your tummy and tuck tissue paper around your clothing to protect it from the gel. The gel makes sure there is good contact between the machine and your skin.
The sonographer passes a handheld device called a probe over your skin. It is this probe that sends out ultrasound waves and picks them up when they bounce back.
A black and white picture of the baby will appear on the ultrasound screen. During the examination, sonographers need to keep the screen in a position that gives them a good view of the baby – either directly facing them or at an angle.
The sonographer will carefully examine your baby's body. Having the scan does not hurt, but the sonographer may need to apply slight pressure to get the best views of the baby.
Does an ultrasound hurt?
An abdominal scan is usually painless except for the mild discomfort of the transducer pressing on your tummy if you have a very full bladder. If you are in pain, tell the sonographer. She may ask you to half empty your bladder, which will make the examination more comfortable.
How can I find sex of the baby?
We understand that pregnancy is an exciting time and know that many families are keen to find out the sex of their baby during the pregnancy. The gender of the baby can usually be determined at the 18-20 week morphology ultrasound (This will depend on your package and whether you want to find out the sex of your baby).
It may not always possible to establish your baby’s gender with certainty. The position of your baby as well as other factors may hinder the ultrasound’s view of this area of the baby.
If you want to know the sex of your baby, please tell your sonographer at the beginning of the examination (depending on your package). This will give us multiple opportunities to establish the gender of your baby.
If you do not want to know the sex of your baby, please tell your sonographer at the beginning of the ultrasound. The sonographer will then not focus on this area during the scan.
Is Ultrasound safe during pregnancy?
Ultrasound is safe for your baby. It has been used to assess pregnancies for many years and there is no evidence that ultrasound causes any serious birth defects or harmful effects to babies.
If you have any further concerns about the safety of ultrasound, please discuss it with your sonographer.
If it is not possible to get 4D images we offer one free re-scan to all our customers.
Our Sonographers and Equipment
Our sonographers are highly experienced and qualified and work at the local NHS Trusts. We only use state-of-the-art most modern scanning equipment at our medical centre.