When you become pregnant in the UK, you are extremely fortunate to receive excellent maternity care absolutely free of charge. From the moment you are pregnant, you are signed up to a midwife and then have a series of appointments and check on the baby’s development right through to the birth and beyond, with midwives monitoring the baby’s first few months.
As part of that care, you also have two pregnancy scans – one at 12 weeks, which usually ascertains when the due date of the baby will be. The second one is at 20 weeks, which checks that the baby is developing as it should and if there are any problems. At any other time, if you experience pain or start bleeding, then your local hospital will carry out an emergency scan.
Seeking confirmation and peace of mind
Excellent though this service is, women these days have the option to have as many private pregnancy scans as they like throughout the course of their pregnancy. Starting from £60, these scans are within affordability and could be the difference between acute anxiety and sheer peace of mind.
While the first NHS scan is at 12 weeks, many women find that they need to have the verification and reassurance that their pregnancy is viable before this. An early pregnancy scan can be carried out as early as five weeks. This might be particularly important for those who have been undergoing IVF treatment or have a history of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies or have medical issues. A private pregnancy scan on this occasion may give them the confirmation they need or save them weeks of uncertainty and possible heartache.
Of course, you might also just be excited to celebrate this momentous occasion and start building up your collections of scan images as early as possible.
Getting your dates right
If you need to know the due date of your baby sooner rather than later, or even get a better idea of when conception was to know who the father might be, you can book yourself into a dating scan as early as eight weeks.
The more information you have, the better prepared you can be in anticipation of your baby’s arrival in this world. Private pregnancy scans are an essential part of this process and put you firmly in the driving seat without having to wait around for more routine appointments.
Nuchal Translucency Screening Scan
Part of your routine 12-week scan is to check for chromosomal disorders such as Down’s Syndrome or Edwards’ Syndrome. However, these issues can actually be detected as early as 11 weeks. If you are at greater risk of having a baby with Down’s – normally in older mothers aged 35 and older – then you may want to opt for a private pregnancy scan to check prior to your routine scan.
During the NT scan, the baby’s heartbeat is checked. The sonographer will also check the fluid at the back of the baby’s head, that the nasal bone is present, and the development of the heart, stomach, bladder, and limbs. The crown to rump length and foetal heart rate are measured. The sonographer will also check the state of the mother’s placenta, amniotic fluid, and umbilical cord.
At this stage, the accuracy of the scan is between 85 and 95 per cent, accurate. If any issues are detected, then you are given the option of further blood tests.
Boy or girl… or one of each?
Finding out about the sex of your child is often a personal choice, and while knowing is great, there are also not that many pleasant surprises in this world. However, a private gender scan from 16 weeks into your pregnancy will tell you all the information you need to know about the sex of your child.
Remember, you don’t have to be told during the appointment. If you prefer, the sonographer can write it down and put it in a sealed envelope for you to take home.
Marking the Milestones
Of course, if you are fortunate enough to enjoy a happy, healthy pregnancy, then a regular private baby scan is a wonderful way of marking your progress and keeping a record of your baby’s growth and development from the earliest weeks right through to the birth.
At every scan, you are presented with two black and white images of your baby on a mounted card. Your growing collection will kick start the photograph albums that you will create as your baby arrives in this world.
In addition to this, today’s technology allows sonographers to create 3D and 4D images of your unborn child, bringing your baby truly to life and captured for posterity on DVD.
Ultimately, you know that the NHS will be the very foundation of your maternity care, but having the reassurance of a private pregnancy scan will not only give you that added support but will also empower you to keep informed and updated at every stage of the pregnancy.
Ultrasound Plus can go through this journey with you from five weeks old right through to your due date. Book your first scan now at one of our UK clinics.