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Early pregnancy scans-what you need to know

If you suspect you may be pregnant or are planning a pregnancy, then it can help to know in advance when early pregnancy scans can take place and what to expect.  This article explains in lay-woman’s language about what you should expect when you book an early pregnancy scan.

1. Early Pregnancy Scans-What You Need To Know

Typically early pregnancy scans can take place between six to eleven weeks.  These weeks are gestational weeks, which in a lay woman’s terms means counting from the first day of your last period.  So essentially you may have just found out that you are pregnant and be able to have an early pregnancy scan two weeks later.

If you are on a regular 28 day cycle, you may realise quite quickly that your period is delayed.  Next step is to take a pregnancy test and if it is possible, then you could book in for an early pregnancy scan from as early as six gestational weeks.

2. What can you expect of early dating pregnancy scans?

The primary reasons to have an early pregnancy scan are to calculate an estimated delivery date, confirm the presence of the baby’s heartbeat and determine the gestational age.

Additionally an early pregnancy scan will check if there are multiples, which in a lay woman’s language is if you are going to be having twins, triplets or quadruplets and so on.  The scan will also site the pregnancy and hopefully exclude the possibility an ectopic pregnancy.  It also helps in order to calculate the windows for performing the nuchal translucency scan.

Sometimes people talk about an early dating pregnancy scan as a viability scan or a dating scan, so once you have heard the lingo you will realise that these various terms describe the same scan.

This will be the first ultrasound pregnancy scan that you will have.  It can date your pregnancy so that you can plan your pregnancy diary and also confirms that the pregnancy is viable.

Going for a scan for the first time can be both exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.  Many women who go for private ultrasound scans do so for reassurance and just to know that all is well with the early pregnancy.

For many couples this is the first positive confirmation that they will become parents.  It can be a very moving experience.

Sometimes it is possible that you will receive an inconclusive scan result.  This is normally due to the fact that it is simply too early to see the pregnancy or the pregnancy is not growing as it should.

The majority of babies are healthy at birth, but unfortunately about 2-3 % of babies are born with a birth defect. About half of these major defects will be seen on scan and half will not be detected during pregnancy. This means that even if your scan is apparently normal there is still a small chance that your baby may still have a problem because the ultrasound has its limitations.

Early pregnancy scans for many women are a very reassuring, wonderful experience.


Nuchal Translucency

12-14 weeks


Anatomy Survey

20-22 weeks


Later Dating

10-17 weeks


Gender Scan

19 weeks onwards


Growth & Well Being

22 weeks onwards


Post Dates & Liquor

40 weeks onwards

Midwife sonographer facilitated

Consultant Led, Centre of Medical Excellence 


All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.


This website was formerly Merrion Fetal Health. The clinic has undergone a rebrand and is now known as Merrion Ultrasound.