Ultrasound uses soundwaves that bounce off structures to create a picture and help diagnose a large number of medical conditions.
The maternity ultrasound suite is a seven-room department within the basement of the Women’s and Children’s unit. It is used mostly for scanning pregnant women but is sometimes used for scanning men and women during general ultrasound scans too.
For your scan to be as successful as possible you are more often than not asked to fill your bladder, as the baby is often better seen. We suggest drinking two pints of water an hour before your scan.
One adult can attend the scan with you. Children are not allowed in during the scan, as sonographers need to concentrate.
Types of scan:
Dating scan: usually completed around 12 weeks. This scan will ‘date’ your pregnancy and give you an estimated due date.
The Nuchal Translucency scan is completed alongside the dating scan if you have consented to the combined screening test. The test uses ultrasound measurements and components of your blood to work out if you have a higher chance of delivering a baby with Down’s, Edwards’ or Pataus syndromes. This scan is done between 12 and 14 weeks.
If you choose to have the 20-week scan, it is carried out between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy.
The scan screens for 11 different conditions that:
- benefit from treatment before or after birth
- need treatment in a specialist setting after birth
- mean the baby may die shortly after birth
Other issues with the development of the baby can sometimes be picked up by this scan.
If something unexpected is found on any of your scans, you will usually be offered a scan with a doctor who is specially trained, for a second opinion. Sometimes, you may be referred for more specialist tests at a fetal medicine unit in Leeds or Sheffield.
Growth scans are done in the third trimester. These can be single scans if the midwife or consultant is worried about something or scans done every two-to-four weeks if your pregnancy is at higher risk, to monitor the growth of the baby and identify issues as early as possible.
Scan photos can be purchased (£6 for 2 pictures) but are printed during the scan, so please ask the sonographer for them at the beginning of the scan. Photos later in your pregnancy are not always possible, due to the way your baby is laid and being too big for the screen.