The first ultrasound during your pregnancy, which is usually scheduled in the eighth week, is an exciting event. Also known as the dating scan, an ultrasound uses sound waves to create the picture of the fetus in the womb. That’s right! It gives you the first glimpse of your baby.
If you are due for the ultrasound soon and are wondering what it is all about, read this MomJunction post.
Why Should You Have An Ultrasound At Eight Weeks?
- Calculate the gestational age and due date. It is also done when you are not sure about your last period date (which can give an approximate gestational age)
- Know the cause of bleeding, if any, in the pregnant mom
- Check the embryo size and the heartbeat
- Confirm multiple pregnancies
- Check if the ovaries and fallopian tubes are healthy
- Rule out pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage
How To Prepare For Your 8th-week Scan?
Your doctor can recommend either the abdominal ultrasound or the transvaginal ultrasound (3).
- For the abdominal scan, you should have a full bladder. At this stage of pregnancy, the fetus is tiny, and a full bladder helps move the uterus up for getting a better image of the fetus. Wear comfortable and loose clothing since you will have to expose your abdomen during the scan.
- For the transvaginal scan, you should have an empty bladder since a full bladder blocks the fetal view.
The Ultrasound Procedure
A sonographer performs the ultrasound scan, which is neither harmful nor painful for the mother and the baby (1).
- Abdominal ultrasound scan: A conductive gel is applied over the abdomen, and a handheld scanner is run over it. This gel allows the ultrasound waves to pass into the uterus through the skin. The waves will then rebound, creating a picture of the fetus in the uterus.
- Transvaginal ultrasound scan: Here, a small wand called the transducer is placed inside the vagina and pressed against the cervix. It may be moved around a little for the right angle to view and capture an image of the pelvic organs and the fetus. You may experience a little pressure or discomfort during the procedure.
What Is The Duration Of The Ultrasound?
The first ultrasound takes up to 30 minutes (4). In some cases, it might take longer if the baby is positioned unusually, or if the body tissues are dense.
What Can You See At 8th Week Ultrasound?
The 8th-week ultrasound can give you a great deal of information including the (5):
- Umbilical cord functioning
- Size of the placenta
- Size of the embryo
- Fetal heartbeat and heart rate
- Presence of multiple fetuses that can be detected through the presence of multiple heartbeats
- The growth of tiny hands, legs, the formation of internal organs, eyes, nostrils, and mouth
How Is The Baby Developing In The 8th Week?
The baby will attain basic human features and is now called a fetus, but not an embryo.
- The baby has tiny arms, legs, and buds where hands and feet will grow later
- Face and internal organs begin to take shape
- A tiny mouth, nostrils, eyes and tooth buds begin to form
- The baby begins to move, but you may not feel it (2)
- Heart rate would be around 140 – 160bpm
If the Ultrasound Doesn’t Detect The Fetal heartbeat, Does It Indicate A Miscarriage?
No, it does not. If the heartbeat is not detected in the eight-week ultrasound, your doctor will suggest a follow-up scan to check for the pulse again and rule out the possibility of a miscarriage.
What If Any Other Abnormalities Are Found In The 8th Week Pregnancy Scan?
If the ultrasound shows any abnormalities, the sonographer or the health care provider might suggest another scan. In some cases, they might suggest tests such as amniocentesis or CVS to detect the problem.
Ultrasound in the eighth week is considered to be early, and in most cases, doctors forgo it. Your health care provider may suggest a scan early in pregnancy if it is deemed necessary. Also, note that the ultrasound reports differ from case to case. Therefore, do not get disappointed if you do not see what you expect. Talk to your doctor to rid of any doubts and fears about the pregnancy.
When did you go for your first ultrasound? If you have any experiences or points to share, write to us in the below comment section.
2. Normal Pregnancy; Operational Obstetrics & Gynecology – 2nd Edition (2000)
3. What Is A Pelvic Ultrasound; University of Utah Health
4. The Biophysical Profile; Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
5. O. Valenti et al.; Fetal cardiac function during the first trimester of pregnancy; J Prenat Med (2011)