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Your First Scan in Pregnancy – Tips & Helpful Advice

Knowledge Hub

9 mins readFact Checked
Author of post icon

Written By:

Atif Riaz

Medically Reviewed By:

Mr M. Usman

first scan in pregnancy - swollen belly of pregnant mother being scanned using ultrasound

Congratulations on your pregnancy! One of the most exciting milestones is having your first scan in pregnancy. This scan is an essential part of prenatal care as it helps monitor the health and development of your baby. Understanding what to expect and preparing for the scan can help ease any anxiety you may have. In this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know before your first pregnancy scan.

Purpose of Your First Pregnancy in Scan

Before diving into the details, let’s explore why the first pregnancy scan is so important. This scan, also known as the dating scan or the viability scan, is usually performed between 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Its main purposes are to confirm your pregnancy, determine the gestational age of your baby, and check for any potential issues.

This scan can help identify multiple pregnancies, assess the baby’s overall health, and even detect certain birth defects. By understanding the purpose of this scan, you can approach it with a sense of curiosity and anticipation.

first scan in pregnancy - mother looking at scan photos in bed

Importance of the first scan in pregnancy

The first pregnancy scan holds great significance as it provides crucial information about your baby’s development. It can help identify any risks or complications early on, enabling your healthcare provider to provide the necessary guidance and support throughout your pregnancy.

Knowing the gestational age of your baby is vital for accurate dating and determining the estimated due date. This information also helps healthcare providers monitor your baby’s growth and development in subsequent scans. It allows them to track the progress of your baby’s organs, limbs, and overall size, ensuring that everything is developing as it should.

Preparation for your first scan in pregnancy

Preparing for your first pregnancy scan involves more than just scheduling the appointment. It’s an opportunity to gather information, ask questions, and ensure you are mentally and emotionally ready for this important milestone in your pregnancy journey.

When scheduling your appointment, it’s advisable to book the scan as soon as possible to ensure you get the desired date and time. The availability of appointments may vary depending on your healthcare provider and the demand for scans in your area. By scheduling early, you can avoid any potential delays or difficulties in securing a convenient time.

Consider choosing a time when you can bring a support person with you. Having someone by your side can provide reassurance and emotional support during the scan. Whether it’s your partner, a family member, or a close friend, their presence can make the experience more comforting and memorable

Things to consider before attending your first scan in pregnancy

  • Clothing: Wear loose and comfortable clothing. You’ll likely need to expose your abdomen, so a two-piece outfit might be more convenient.
  • Bladder: Some clinics advise having a full bladder as it can help get a clearer image, especially in early pregnancy. Drink about 1-2 glasses of water an hour before your appointment and try not to empty your bladder. However, always follow the specific instructions given by your healthcare provider.
  • Dietary Restrictions: Generally, there are no dietary restrictions. However, avoid applying lotions or creams to your abdomen on the day of the scan.
  • Questions and Concerns: Prepare a list of questions or concerns you might have. The sonographer or radiologist will be there to guide you through the process and answer any queries.

hydration - drinking water in pregnancy - first pregnancy scan

Hydration and Full Bladder: Why it Matters

Before the scan, your healthcare provider may advise you to drink water and have a full bladder. This may seem like an unusual request, but it serves an important purpose in obtaining clear and accurate images of your baby. A full bladder provides an acoustic window enabling clearer ultrasound visualisation

When you drink water before the scan, it helps to fill your bladder, which in turn pushes the uterus up and positions it better for scanning. This allows the person performing the scan to obtain a clearer image of your baby and the surrounding structures. A full bladder can also help in visualizing the cervix and assessing the overall health of your reproductive system.

Follow your healthcare professional’s instructions regarding when and how much water to drink before the scan. It’s essential to stay hydrated throughout your pregnancy but avoid excessive intake that may cause discomfort or unnecessary bladder pressure. Striking a balance is key, as you want to have enough fluid in your bladder to facilitate the scan without feeling overly uncomfortable.

Remember that every pregnancy is unique, and your healthcare provider’s instructions may vary based on your specific circumstances. If you have any concerns or questions about the hydration and full bladder requirements, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for clarification.

Scheduling your first scan appointment

Contacting your healthcare provider is the first step in scheduling your first pregnancy scan appointment. You can reach out to them through various means, such as phone, email, or an online patient portal if available. Make sure to have your personal information and if required, your insurance details ready when making the call.

When speaking with your healthcare provider, they may ask you some questions to gather relevant information about your pregnancy. This could include your last menstrual period, any previous pregnancies or miscarriages, and any specific concerns or symptoms you may have. Providing accurate and detailed information will help them tailor the scan to your specific needs.

During the scheduling process, you may also have the opportunity to ask questions or seek clarification about the scan. Don’t hesitate to enquire about the duration of the scan, any special instructions you need to follow, and what you can expect during the appointment. Your healthcare provider is there to guide you and address any concerns you may have.

first scan in pregnancy - mother being scanned by ultrasound

What to expect during your first scan in pregnancy

During the first pregnancy scan, you will be asked to lie down on an examination table. The room will be dimly lit to enhance the visibility of the images. A trained healthcare professional sonographer will apply a gel to your abdomen and use a handheld device called a transducer to capture images of your baby.

The transducer emits high-frequency sound waves that bounce off your baby’s body and create echoes. These echoes are then converted into images that can be seen on a monitor. The sonographer will move the transducer gently over your abdomen to obtain different views of your baby.

You may experience slight discomfort due to the pressure of the transducer on your abdomen. However, the procedure is generally painless and non-invasive. The gel applied to your abdomen helps to improve the contact between your skin and the transducer, ensuring better image quality.

As the scan progresses, the sonographer will measure various parts of your baby, such as the crown-rump length, which helps determine the gestational age. They will also assess the baby’s heartbeat, the early development of the brain and spinal cord, and the presence of potential visible abnormalities.

The duration of the scan may vary, but it typically lasts around 15-20 minutes. Remember to breathe and relax, as this can help improve image quality and enhance your overall experience. Feel free to ask questions and share any concerns you may have with the sonographer, as they are there to provide support and guidance throughout the scan.

After the scan, the sonographer will discuss the findings with you and provide you with images of your baby as a keepsake. They will also inform you of any follow-up appointments or additional tests that may be necessary based on the scan results.

feeling anxious - feeling nervous - scan anxiety - first pregnancy scan

Dealing with scan anxiety

It’s common to feel anxious or nervous before your first pregnancy scan. Understanding that these feelings are normal can help alleviate some of the worry.

Fear of the Unknown

Educate yourself about the scan beforehand. Read reliable sources, talk to your healthcare provider, and join online communities where you can find support from others who have gone through similar experiences.

Fear of a Bad Outcome

While it’s natural to worry, keep in mind that the majority of scans come back with positive results. Focus on the joy of seeing your baby for the first time and trust in the expertise of your healthcare team.

Coping with Anxiety

Feeling anxious is very common and normal for initial scans. Take slow deep breaths during the procedure, focusing your attention on the wondrous images rather than any worries. Looking at the screen once the sonographer has optimized the views allows you to see your baby’s profile and connect with this milestone moment.

Talking with your sonographer as they obtain measurements provides education on fetal development and what is being assessed. Having a supportive loved one present to share the experience can also provide reassurance. Always remember that ultrasound is extremely safe for mother and baby – any discomfort is brief.

Relaxation techniques for the first scan in pregnancy

Practising relaxation techniques before the scan can help calm your nerves and create a more positive experience.

  • Deep Breathing: Take deep, slow breaths to centre yourself and promote relaxation.
  • Meditation: Find a guided meditation or mindfulness app that suits your preferences and use it before the scan to help calm your mind.
  • Visualization: Imagine a peaceful and comforting scene, such as a serene beach, and visualize yourself there during the scan.
  • Interact with Others: Talk to friends and family who are prepared to let you unburden yourself can frequently make you feel better. Talking to people who have been through pregnancy might be very beneficial because they are likely to have experienced similar ideas and fears.

first scan in pregnancy - black & white 2D image of baby ultrasound

Interpreting the results from your first pregnancy scan

After your first pregnancy scan, it’s essential to understand how to interpret the results. While the sonographer will discuss the findings with you, having a basic understanding can empower you to engage in more informed discussions with your healthcare provider.

Reading the ultrasound image

Ultrasound images can be quite complex, but understanding a few key elements can help you grasp the basics. The sonographer may point out the baby’s head, body, limbs, and even the heartbeat. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or request clarifications during the scan.

Potential findings and their implications

While providing preliminary confirmation of normal development, subsequent second-trimester anatomy scans delve deeper into fetal health and diagnostic assessment. Scans can reveal both normal and abnormal findings. However, it’s important to remember that an abnormal finding doesn’t always indicate a problem. Your healthcare provider will guide you through any potential concerns and discuss appropriate actions based on the results.

It’s worth noting that additional tests or scans may be necessary to gain a clearer understanding of a particular finding. Trust in the expertise of your healthcare team to provide the best care for you and your baby.

pregnant lady discussing her first scan in pregnancy results with doctor

After your first scan in pregnancy

Seeing your baby is an amazing experience, especially for the first time. After you have had your scan there are some important things you need to remember.

Discussing the results with your doctor or midwife

Schedule a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss the results of the scan. They will review the findings, answer any questions you may have, and guide the rest of your pregnancy journey.

Planning for future scans

Throughout your pregnancy, you will have additional scans to monitor your baby’s growth and development. Use this opportunity to discuss upcoming scans with your healthcare provider and understand their significance. Each scan serves a unique purpose and contributes to the overall well-being of you and your baby.


Remember, the first pregnancy scan is an exciting step towards getting to know your baby. Embrace the experience and look forward to seeing your little one for the first time!

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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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