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NHS and private ultrasound scans during pregnancy

NHS and private ultrasound scans during pregnancy

Ultrasound scans are a routine part of the prenatal care enabling obstetricians and pregnant women to monitor the development of the unborn baby from as early as 5 weeks gestation.



Ultrasound scans are aroutine part of the prenatal care enabling obstetricians and pregnant women to monitor the development of the unborn baby from as early as 5 weeks gestation.

From your early pregnancy scan to your anomaly scan and beyond, ultrasound scans check that your baby is developing as it should be.


What is an ultrasound scan?

Ultrasound is a medical diagnostic imaging technique that uses sound waves to see what is happening inside your body. You can read more about ultrasound here.


Why Ultrasound scans are being used in pregnancy?

There are multiple reasons why ultrasound is being used in pregnancy:

  • At the early pregnancy, dating scan to calculate your due date by measuring the baby.
  • To monitor the growth rate of the baby.
  • To detect abnormalities such as the amount of amniotic fluid.

Are pregnancy scans safe?

Ultrasound scans have been used for many years, and there are no known risks to you or your baby from having the routine scans offered in pregnancy when they are performed by qualified practitioners.


What scans are offered by the NHS?

All pregnant women in the UK that have straightforward, healthy pregnancies are being offered two scans from the NHS:  the early pregnancy scan and the anomaly scan.


The early pregnancy scan

This scan takes place at around 12 weeks and it is your first baby scan provided by the NHS.

This scan will confirm that your are pregnant and check that the baby's heart is beating.

The pregancy will also be dated by measuring the bay's CRL (crown-rump length).


The anomaly scan

This scan is offered between 18 and 21 weeks and the sonographer will check your baby’s heart, brain, bones, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen to check for a range of conditions.


What scans can you have privately?

Other than the routine NHS scans, you can have a wide range of pregnancy scans available privately. A large numbers of mothers choose to have add on private pregnancy scans as they are not satisfied by the two scans offered by the NHS.

Early Pregnancy scan

This scan also known as viability scan, is being offered between week  6 and week 10 of your pregnancy. The test will confirm the heartbeat and from week 9+ you should be able to see the head and limps.


Gender scan

It is possible to identify the sex of the baby using ultrasound. This scan is offerd from 16 to 34 weeks. The sonographer at your 20 week scan should be able to tell you if you baby is a boy or a girl but sometimes due to baby's position is not always possible. Just bear in mind that this test is more accurate as the gestatuion age increases.


3D and 4D scans

Ultrasound technology is so advanced these days that it is possible to have 3d and 4d scans of your baby. In the second half of your pregnancy,

The difference between the 3D and 4D scans is that the 3D is a stactic 3 dimentional image of your baby when with the 4D you can see that baby in 3D but with the added dimention of time so you seeing the baby live. In 4D you can see baby movements and you might see things like the baby sucking their thumb, stretching, yawning and kicking.

The best time to have a 3D or 4D scan is around week 26 to 32 as it will be enough fat around the baby to get some awesome looking images.


Why do parents have private preganancy scans?

There are multiple reasons why parents to choose to have private pregnancy scans and the most common reasons are: 

  • To have 3D or 4D scan.
  • Reassurance
  • To find the sex of the baby
  • To get extra baby pictures for safe keeping

 Read more about why have a private ultrasound scan.


How much are private scans?

The price you’ll pay for a non-NHS scan depends on the type of scan you want to have and the location. it is very common to find prices of pregnancy scans in London from as low as £30 but these scans aremarketing gimmick as they are short and sometimes increase anxiety.

You can read more about what is the cost of private ultrasound in London?



What if a scan uncovers a problem?

Unfortunately it is very common that the scan might uncover a problem. The potential action related to the peroblem will depend on the abnormality detected. In most cases a follow up scan might be neccesary and the sonographer should be able to explain the next steps.



For other ultrasound scans not related to pregnancy click here.

To find out about ultrasound scanning click here.




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