Your first pregnancy scan
Everything you need to know about your first baby scan
When will I have my first baby scan?
What happens at the first scan?
Your first scan, commonly called a ‘dating scan’ or a ’12-week scan’ (even though it doesn’t necessarily happen at exactly 12 weeks), will assess how far along you are in your pregnancy. You’ll also be given a more accurate due date.
You’ll be asked to go in with a full bladder, and the sonographer will move a handheld ‘transducer’ onto your tummy with some gel, which will display a picture of your baby on a monitor.
Your first scan will also determine if you may be carrying more than one little one, as well as checking the location of the placenta and your baby’s heartbeat and development.
Your baby will be measured from head to bottom to determine how far along they are. Your sonographer will also look at your baby’s legs, arms, heart, stomach, skull, brain, bowel, pelvis and bladder to make sure they’re all developing properly.
If it’s deemed necessary, you may also be offered other scans, such as a nuchal translucency (NT) scan to test for Down’s Syndrome, and if there are any issues you will be referred on to a specialist for consultation and further tests.
Do I get to find out the gender of my baby?
No, not yet – you won’t be able to find this out until your 20-week scan.
How big will my baby be?
From head to bottom, your baby’s size will depend on when you get your first scan. As a general rule, at 10 weeks your baby will be about 3cm, between 5cm and 6cm at 12 weeks and about 7cm at 13 weeks.
Will it hurt?
No, an ultrasound shouldn’t hurt – the only discomfort you may feel is that the gel is rather cold! There are no known side-effects of an ultrasound for mum or baby.
How long will it take?
On average your scan will only last around 15-20 minutes, but it can last up to 45 minutes, for example if your baby is moving around a lot or lying in an awkward position that doesn’t give the sonographer a good view.
Can I take anyone in with me?
Yes, you can take your partner, a parent or a friend in with you when you have the scan, although most hospitals don’t have childcare available.
Questions you might want to ask
• When is my baby due?
• If you’ve had any further scans – when can I expect the results?
• Can I have a photo of my baby’s scan?
• How big is my baby?