8-Week Ultrasound: What to Expect

8-Week Ultrasound: What to Expect

Your 8-week ultrasound? What?!

How did the time fly like this? Or… maybe it didn’t.

Maybe every painstaking, vomitous, gassy, emotional hour has felt like a decade.

Either way, you’re here. Yay!

The 8-week ultrasound is typically a major landmark in your pregnancy.

For many mamas-to-be, this is the first time that they see what is actually going on with this project that’s been under construction inside them for the last two months.

No doubt, this is a rather emotional experience.

There your little one is!

Right there for you to see!

So what can you expect at an ultrasound at 8 weeks pregnant? Let’s take a look.

In this article: 📝

  • What is an ultrasound?
  • What can I expect at an 8-week ultrasound?
  • Is 8-week ultrasound internal or external?
  • What does an 8-week ultrasound look like?
  • What does a fetus look like at 8 weeks?
  • Are 8-week ultrasounds accurate?
  • Can you hear a heartbeat at 8 weeks?
  • Can you tell the gender at 8-week scan?
  • What should I be feeling at 8 weeks pregnant?

What is an ultrasound?

Using some pretty remarkable technology, ultrasounds use high-frequency waves to take pictures of the insides of your body.

Your ultrasound at 8 weeks (and sometimes slightly sooner) will allow you premium access to the soap opera going on inside you.

So what is a sonogram?

Very good question.

Ultrasounds and sonograms are often used interchangeably.

There are, however, two very distinct things.

An ultrasound is the technology used to take the picture, and the sonogram is the picture that the technology generates.

Sonograms at 8 weeks are then the 8-week ultrasound pictures.

What can I expect at an 8-week ultrasound?

Your 8-week ultrasound might just be the first ultrasound of your pregnancy.

Congratulations, mama, this is a major milestone!

So as it’s your first, you may not know what’s likely to happen.

Relax ‒ while it may feel like a mix of daunting and exciting, it’s totally routine and usually not invasive at all.

The 8-week ultrasound will verify your due date, measure fetal heartbeat and tell if you are having multiple pregnancies.

As part of your 8 weeks pregnancy appointment, they’ll likely run through your diet and nutrition, go through useful exercises you can do, and give you some notes on prenatal care.

They may also discuss your birth preferences (or birth plans, but sometimes, plans can go a little off-course), so it’s worth thinking about those beforehand.

Your doctor or nurse will also discuss any potential risks during your pregnancy, take your blood pressure, and run tests for gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

Then, when it’s time for your ultrasound, it’s likely to be an external or transabdominal ultrasound at 8 weeks.

So the healthcare practitioner will apply some cold gel to your abdomen, then they’ll use the ultrasound probe (also called an ultrasound transducer) over your skin to see where your 8-week-old embryo is.

Once they’re happy with the images, they’ll save the pictures (your 8-week sonogram) and you can use a paper towel to wipe off the gel.

That’s it!

Is 8-week ultrasound internal or external?

There are two types of ultrasounds:


No points for guessing that this is the inside one and is typically given in early pregnancy only if needed.

You can also get one of these down the line if your cervix needs to be measured or the placenta found.

It can be a little uncomfortable, but shouldn’t cause you any pain.


This is the one you’ll usually get at around the 8-week ultrasound mark.

Your doc will use a handheld device over the abdomen to show you what’s going on on the inside.

They use a gel on your skin which can be a little ticklish and cold.

Can 8-week ultrasound detect abnormalities?

It’s a scary thought, but some parts of pregnancy can be worrisome ‒ we get it.

Sometimes, yes, an 8-week ultrasound can detect some abnormalities.

An abnormal 8-week ultrasound will usually only show the more severe abnormalities, which often can indicate a potential pregnancy loss or a high-risk pregnancy.

What does an 8-week ultrasound look like?

Like the best black and white photography you have ever seen in your life!

You’re looking for a little being somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 inches, or 1.5 to 2 centimeters long.

That’s about the size of a grape ‒ the cutest grape you’ve ever seen!

Can you get a 3D 8-week ultrasound?

While you can get an 8-week ultrasound in 3D or 4D, it’s often not worth it.

It’s better to do 3D and 4D ultrasounds sparingly, for baby’s well-being, and it’s better to do them later in your pregnancy so you can get a clearer picture of how your little one looks.

What does an 8-week twin ultrasound look like?

Twins in an 8-week ultrasound can look a bit different, depending on the type of twins.

Fraternal twins will have their own separate placentas and amniotic sacs, so can sometimes be clearer to see, but sometimes, in an 8-week ultrasound, twins can be missed!

This is usually in the case of identical or paternal twins, who share a placenta and sometimes an amniotic sac between them, so getting the right angle to see both fetuses can be tricky.

What does a fetus look like at 8 weeks?

At 8 weeks, your fetus will have more prominent arms and legs.

They still have some development to do before they look like a baby, but they’re certainly doing their best!

Baby’s growing will up the ante from this point, growing almost 0.05 of an inch (1 millimeter) each day.

Are 8-week ultrasounds accurate?

So, accuracy in this sense means predicting the due date.

And chances are that your 8-week ultrasound is pretty accurate!

This is a very good reason to not go for one sooner.

In the weeks preceding this, your little peanut is growing at such an alarming rate that accurate predicting is a little tricky.

Can you hear a heartbeat at 8 weeks?

While it is very difficult to hear a heartbeat at 8 weeks with your Doppler machine at home, you should be able to hear it with the space-age tech of the ultrasound.

Those soundwaves come in handy!

So yes, if baby’s heart is developed enough by this stage, you’ll be able to hear a heartbeat during your 8-week ultrasound.

Can baby have no heartbeat at 8 weeks?

Sometimes, yes, a perfectly healthy fetus may not have a detectable heartbeat at 8 weeks.

Sometimes it can take as long as 10 or 12 weeks before their heartbeat is detected, but sometimes, it can also be a sign of early pregnancy loss.

Your doctor will be able to advise if they can’t detect a heartbeat at 8 weeks but don’t be alarmed if you cannot hear it yourself at home.

Detecting the heartbeat is something that requires skill, and doctors take years perfecting this.

Can you tell the gender at 8-week scan?

Not often, no ‒ the bits the ultrasound technician needs to see are not developed during your 8-week ultrasound.

You may be able to tell baby’s sex during a 12-week ultrasound, but this also isn’t guaranteed and may change later down the line.

Usually, the most accurate way to tell baby’s sex will be during the 18-20-week ultrasound.

What should I be feeling at 8 weeks pregnant?

At 8 weeks pregnant, you may be experiencing the full force of early pregnancy symptoms.

So morning sickness, frequent bathroom visits, headaches, bloating, cravings, and mood swings may just be your life right now.

Your body’s going through a lot of changes right now, making room for a tiny human, so some discomfort is par for the course.

Our final piece of 8-week ultrasound advice?

You may want to take a tissue for leaky eyes.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

And if you want some support and friendship during your pregnancy journey, why not find your Bump Buddy on Peanut.

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