First Trimester Ultrasound: What to Expect

First Trimester Ultrasound: What to Expect

Eek. You’re pregnant! And no doubt itching to see what on earth is going on inside you. So when do you get your first ultrasound—and what can you expect from that oh-so-exciting appointment? Let’s take a look.
Table of Contents 📝

  • What happens at your first ultrasound
  • When should you have your first ultrasound?
  • First trimester ultrasound: final tips

What happens at your first ultrasound

Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to provide an image of life on the inside (of your womb). Pretty amazing stuff. Through the use of a magic wand (called a transducer), sound waves are passed into the uterus and then bounced back to provide a picture of your little peanut.

There are two main types of ultrasounds: transabdominal and transvaginal. In the case of a transabdominal ultrasound, your doc will wave the transducer over your gelled-up belly. In the case of the transvaginal, the transducer will be placed inside you.

If your first ultrasound is transabdominal, you will need to have a full bladder. (Um, yes. Sorry.) Your brimming bladder will push against your uterus and place your little one center stage for optimum viewing.

If you need to have your first ultrasound very early on in your pregnancy, you will likely have the transvaginal option, as this will provide a clearer picture of your little one. For a transvaginal ultrasound, it’s best to empty your bladder beforehand. (Phew.)

Getting the picture

You can opt for a 2D, 3D, or even 4D image, depending on what your ultrasound facility offers. While the more advanced imaging is impressive to see, in most cases, a 2D picture should provide all the needed information.

So how soon can you get an ultrasound? Is 7 weeks too early for an ultrasound? And what exactly is your doc looking for in there?

When should you have your first ultrasound?

In most cases, your doc will wait until you are at least 6 weeks pregnant before performing the first ultrasound. More commonly, it will be performed around 7 to 8 weeks.

The 7 / 8 week ultrasound is also called your first peek ultrasound.

Apart from making you squeal with delight (or terror… or both), the first trimester ultrasound gives you and your doc some important intel about where you and that little being inside you are at.

The purpose of that first ultrasound is to:

  • Date your pregnancy. Your healthcare provider should be able to predict your due date at this ultrasound, which is particularly helpful if you don’t know when you got pregnant or if you ovulate earlier or later in your cycle than average. (The first trimester ultrasound is sometimes referred to as the “dating” ultrasound for this reason.)
  • Check the heartbeat of your baby.
  • Check for any early signs of genetic issues and/or pregnancy complications, like an ectopic pregnancy.
  • See if that little one is alone in there or if you have to start shopping for two (or more) of everything.
  • Check the size of the baby.
  • Give you the ideal image for the perfect pregnancy post on social media. (Ask your doc if you can take a photo/video of the screen for this and other bragging purposes, obv.)

After your first trimester ultrasound, you should have at least one more during your pregnancy to check that all is running smoothly. You will likely have your next ultrasound somewhere between 18 and 22 weeks, often referred to as an “anatomy scan” as it allows your doc to check for any growth anomalies. Some mamas-to-be have a third ultrasound (or more), but this isn’t always needed.

First trimester ultrasound: final tips

Try to find out what kind of ultrasound (transvaginal or transabdominal) your doc will perform. Pee or don’t pee accordingly. And wear comfy clothes so that you can go through the experience with relative ease.

That first ultrasound might just be the first time that the reality of your pregnancy sets in. There is actually a real-life baby growing inside you. Congratulations, mama!

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