If you’re expecting your first child, you may be curious about the road ahead has in store. Generally speaking, in the first and second trimesters, you’ll undergo a number of different tests and scans to check for different things.
The number of scans you have varies massively depending on your personal health and how your baby is developing, but there are a number of different scans and tests that all expectant parents will need to attend as standard.
To help you prepare for what is to come in terms of scans and tests for your pregnancy journey, here are some of the different types of tests and scans you may encounter.
Early Pregnancy Scan
When you find out you’re pregnant, the first scan you attend is called an early pregnancy scan and can be carried out from 5-8 weeks onwards. This scan will cover all the basics and look to identify a heartbeat, how many babies there are, and an expected due date.
The early pregnancy scan is also sometimes called a dating scan due to the fact it’s commonly used to determine when your baby is due, so you may hear it referred to as this by your GP.
The question on most parent’s minds is whether they’ll be having a boy or a girl. Specific gender scans are available, but you can also find out the sex of your baby at a 20-week scan which is a standard healthcare check. In some cases, your doctor may not tell you the sex of your baby at a 20-week scan. In this case, you can request a separate gender scan, but you might have to pay for it.
It’s important to remember that ultrasound scans are not 100%, so there’s a chance you’re told you’re having a boy but you have a girl, and vice versa.
Prenatal Paternity Test
Sometimes, there are questions surrounding who the baby’s father is. In this case, a prenatal paternity test may be offered. Traditionally, this involves a long needle being inserted into the womb or the placenta, but this is invasive and can be dangerous. However, there is a non-invasive option that requires a simple blood test from the mother and a cheek swab from the potential father.
Where possible, it’s worth paying for the prenatal paternity test that is non-invasive, although it may come at a high fee.
The final most common type of scan you’ll have during your pregnancy is an NT scan. This is a scan that is carried out to check if your baby is likely to have Down Syndrome, Edward’s Syndrome, or Patau Syndrome which are all chromosomal conditions that can greatly affect your baby’s health. If the NT scan shows that there’s a high chance of a chromosomal condition, you may be offered additional tests to confirm this.
An NT scan is non-invasive and involves a simply ultrasound scan, but more advanced scans may include inserting a long needle into the abdomen to extract a sample of amniotic fluid, or into the placenta to extract cells.
These will then be tested further and be able to confirm whether or not your baby has a chromosomal condition. It’s important to note that you don’t have to have an NT scan or any follow-up scans if you don’t want to, but it’s advisable so that you can more informed decisions about your pregnancy and baby’s health moving forwards.
Where you live will dictate the types of scans you have, as will your health, but generally speaking, these are some of the scans you can expect.