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6 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound All You Need to Know

Knowledge Hub

5-10 mins readFact Checked
Author of post icon

Written By:

Atif Riaz

Medically Reviewed By:

Mr M. Usman

6 Week Pregnant Ultrasound

As you embark on this journey of parenthood, it’s time to familiarise yourself with the exciting world of prenatal scans. One of the first milestones in this journey is the 6-week early pregnancy scan, often referred to as the early pregnancy scan. This is a special moment for parents as it may be the first time they get to see their little ones.

While in many cases, the NHS does not offer 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan unless there are certain concerns, such as suspicions of an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage, many parents opt for a private baby scan. This can be a great option for those who may have concerns about their pregnancy progression or for those who would like a visual confirmation of their pregnancy.

The most common reasons for a 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan

  • Previous miscarriage
  • Recurrent miscarriage
  • You have had or are having fertility treatment such as IVF
  • Pelvic pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal spotting
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Suspected ectopic pregnancy
  • You are unsure how far along you are in your pregnancy
  • hyperemesis gravidarum – prolonged and severe nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Previous pregnancy loss
  • Previous pregnancy complications
  • Visual confirmation that you are pregnant after a positive pregnancy test
  • What can a 6-week scan show?
  • Confirm pregnancy
  • Check for viable fetus
  • Determine the gestational age of the fetus
  • Detect potential issues or abnormalities
  • Confirm the location of pregnancy (uterus or ectopic)
  • Detect multiple pregnancies (twins or triplets)

5 things to be prepared for before having a 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan

If you’re preparing for your first pregnancy ultrasound at 6 weeks, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you feel more comfortable and informed. This is an exciting step in your pregnancy journey and being prepared can help you focus on the positive aspects. Here are four things to be aware of if you are having this scan in the NHS:

  1. At 6 weeks, you may have a transvaginal ultrasound instead of the traditional abdominal one. This is because babies at this early stage are often too small to be easily seen with an abdominal ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound involves a wand being inserted into the vagina, which may not be the most pleasant feeling but shouldn’t hurt.
  2. The detail of your baby at 6 weeks may be limited. At this stage, your baby is only about 6mm so you may not see much detail. At this stage, your baby’s biological sex is not visible.
  3. Recording may not be permitted in the facility.
  4. You may not be able to bring along a lot of people to the scan, especially due to covid restrictions.
  5. Your scan could indicate bad news so it may be good to bring your partner or buddy along with you.

Why have the 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound?

A 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound is performed for several reasons, including:

  • To confirm the pregnancy and check for a viable fetus
  • To determine the gestational age of the fetus and establish a due date
  • To detect any potential issues or abnormalities, such as a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • To confirm the location of the pregnancy, in the uterus or in the fallopian tubes
  • To detect multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets
  • To check for the presence of a fetal heartbeat
  • To check if the pregnancy is progressing normally.

An ultrasound scan at 6 weeks can also help to ease any concerns or worries that a woman may have about her pregnancy, and can provide her with important information about her pregnancy.

Are there any risks in having an ultrasound scan this early?

Ultrasound scans, including the 6 weeks pregnant scan, are generally considered safe for both the mother and the fetus. No known risks are associated with having a private ultrasound scan during early pregnancy.

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the developing fetus and surrounding structures, which do not use ionising radiation. Therefore, it is not known to cause any harm to the mother or the fetus.

However, as with any medical procedure, there is always a small risk of complications. Some women may experience mild discomfort or cramping during the scan, particularly if they have a full bladder. This is usually temporary and can be relieved by going to the bathroom.

It’s also worth noting that an ultrasound scan may not detect a fetal heartbeat or gestational sac in rare cases, which may indicate a non-viable pregnancy. This can be emotionally distressing for the woman and her partner, so it’s important to have a support system in place.

Having a 6 weeks ultrasound scan is considered safe and there are no known risks associated with it. It is a non-invasive procedure that helps to confirm the pregnancy, detect any potential issues or abnormalities, and provide important information about the pregnancy.

What happens during the 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan?

6 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan - ultrasound image of a 6 week old fetus or baby, yolk sac and gestational sac.
6-week baby (bean-shaped white area) within the pregnancy sac (black area) which also contains a yolk sac (round ring-shaped structure)

During a 6-week ultrasound scan, the sonographer will use a transducer, which is a handheld device, to emit high-frequency sound waves into the body. These sound waves create echoes that are then used to create images of the developing fetus and the surrounding structures.

The scan will take place in a dark room, and the sonographer will apply a clear gel to the woman’s abdomen to help the sound waves travel more easily through the skin. Typically a 6-week scan is performed using a transvaginal ultrasound transducer, which is a wand-like camera placed inside the vagina. This type of scan is safe and does not harm the pregnancy or the pregnancy. It often will provide greater detail and information about the pregnancy.

During the scan, the sonographer will typically check for the following:

  • The presence of a gestational sac, which is the first sign of a viable pregnancy
  • The presence of a yolk sac, which is a small round structure that appears within the gestational sac and is an early sign of fetal development
  • The presence of a fetal pole, which is the first visible sign of the developing fetus and can be seen as a small curved structure within the gestational sac
  • The presence of a fetal heartbeat, which can usually be seen at this stage of pregnancy
  • The measurement of the gestational sac, yolk sac, and fetus to confirm the gestational age and estimate the due date
  • The location of the pregnancy, in the uterus or in the fallopian tubes, to check for an ectopic pregnancy
  • It’s worth noting that in some cases, the scan may not detect a fetal heartbeat or gestational sac, which may indicate a non-viable pregnancy. The sonographer will discuss the findings with the woman and her doctor and will advise on the next steps.

It’s common for the woman to be able to see the images of the scan and take them home with her, but it depends on the facility’s policy.

What size is a 6 week baby?

A 6-week fetus is typically between 5 – 9mm, absolutely tiny!

6 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan showing a single baby within the womb
6 week scan shows a single baby within the pregnancy sac

Can a heartbeat really be seen at the 6 weeks pregnant ultrasound scan?

A fetal heartbeat can typically be seen at a 6-week ultrasound scan. However, it’s important to note that detecting a fetal heartbeat at this early stage of pregnancy can be challenging and it may not always be visible. The fetal heart rate is usually too fast to be heard with a Doppler, so it’s visualized with the ultrasound. The sonographer will look for a small flicker or pulsation within the gestational sac, indicating a fetal heartbeat.

If a fetal heartbeat is not detected at a 6-week scan, it does not necessarily mean that the pregnancy is not viable. It could be that the pregnancy is not far enough for the heartbeat to be visible, or the pregnancy may be in a difficult position to visualize. In such cases, the sonographer will recommend a repeat scan in a week or two to check for the presence of a fetal heartbeat.

Can a 6 week scan check for ectopic pregnancy?

An ultrasound scan at 6 weeks pregnant can be used to check for an ectopic pregnancy, a rare but serious condition where the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. However, it’s important to note that at 6 weeks, it might be difficult to detect an ectopic pregnancy, as the gestational sac may not be large enough to be visible.

During the scan, the sonographer will look for the location of the gestational sac and yolk sac, which should be within the uterus. If the gestational sac is located in the fallopian tube, this may indicate an ectopic pregnancy. However, it’s also possible that the pregnancy is too early to be detected in the uterus, and in such cases, the sonographer will recommend a repeat scan in a week or two.

It’s important to note that an ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency, and it can cause severe abdominal pain and internal bleeding. Women with a suspected ectopic pregnancy will be closely monitored and may require further testing such as blood tests, pelvic exams and additional scans. If an ectopic pregnancy is confirmed, prompt treatment is necessary to prevent life-threatening complications.

Can a 6 week scan check for bleeding?

A 6-week pregnancy ultrasound scan can be used to check for bleeding, as it is one of the early signs of pregnancy. During the scan, the sonographer will look for the gestational sac, yolk sac and the fetus. The presence of these structures indicates that the pregnancy is progressing normally.

If bleeding is present and the gestational sac is not visible, it could indicate a miscarriage, a subchorionic haemorrhage or anembryonic pregnancy (early pregnancy loss). A subchorionic haemorrhage is a collection of blood between the gestational sac and the wall of the uterus and can cause bleeding during early pregnancy. An anembryonic pregnancy is a condition in which the gestational sac develops but the fetus does not.

It’s worth noting that some bleeding during early pregnancy is not uncommon and it doesn’t always mean a miscarriage. The sonographer will discuss the findings with the woman and her doctor and will advise on the next steps.

It’s important to note that if the woman is experiencing heavy bleeding or severe cramping, she should seek medical attention immediately as it may indicate a more serious condition such as an ectopic pregnancy.

A 6-week scan can check for bleeding, which can be an early sign of pregnancy. The presence or absence of a gestational sac, yolk sac and the fetus can indicate if the pregnancy is progressing normally or if there are any issues such as a miscarriage or subchorionic haemorrhage.

How much does a private 6 week ultrasound scan cost?

The cost of a private 6 weeks pregnancy ultrasound scan can vary depending on the location, the provider, and the type of scan that is performed.

In general, the cost of a private 6 week pregnancy ultrasound scan can range from around £100 to £300. The scan cost at the clinic is from £75 and includes a detailed report and 2 free pictures. 

Some providers may charge more for additional services such as a detailed report and pictures.

Summary

During pregnancy, prenatal care, such as regular checkups and screening tests, are essential for your and your baby’s health and well-being. A 6-week ultrasound is an important and safe part of this process, providing valuable information to your doctor to ensure that you receive the best care.

The experience of your first ultrasound can be both exciting and potentially stressful. To help ease any anxiety, bringing a support person with you is recommended, and not to worry if you can’t see what you’re expecting, as it might be too early to see much detail.

Further Reading

NHS

BabyCenter

Tommy’s

Miscarriage Association

Related Articles

Fact Check Information

The Scan Clinic is committed to providing accurate and objective educational content about health and medical related topics. We know that there is a lot of misinformation out there, and we take our responsibility to be a trustworthy source of information seriously. Every article on our site is thoroughly fact-checked by our team of writers.

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