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How Early Can I Have a Pregnancy Scan?

If you’re expecting a baby or trying to conceive you may be curious about when you can have your first pregnancy scan. Early pregnancy scans also known as viability scans or dating scans are typically performed in the first trimester to confirm pregnancy, estimate gestational age and check the health of the embryo. Here’s everything you need to know about when you can have a pregnancy scan.

Understanding Early Pregnancy Scans

Early pregnancy scans are important milestones in the prenatal care journey. These scans use ultrasound technology to create images of the uterus and the developing embryo or foetus. By visualizing the pregnancy healthcare providers can confirm its viability, detect multiple pregnancies and identify any potential complications early on.

When Can I Schedule My First Pregnancy Scan?

The timing of your first pregnancy scan depends on various factors, including your menstrual cycle, medical history, and healthcare provider’s recommendations. However, in most cases, you can expect to have your first scan around six to eight weeks of gestation.

Six Weeks Pregnant

At around six weeks of gestation, your healthcare provider may recommend scheduling your first pregnancy scan. During this time, it’s possible to detect the gestational sac, which appears as a small fluid-filled structure within the uterus. While the embryo may not be visible yet, the presence of the gestational sac confirms the pregnancy and allows healthcare providers to estimate gestational age.

Seven Weeks Pregnant

By seven weeks of gestation, the embryo begins to develop, and a fetal pole may be visible on ultrasound images. The fetal pole is a thickening at one end of the embryo, which will eventually develop into the head. At this stage, the heartbeat may also be detectable, providing further reassurance about the viability of the pregnancy.

Eight Weeks Pregnant

Around eight weeks of gestation, the embryo continues to grow and develop rapidly. By this stage, the embryo’s heartbeat is usually visible on ultrasound images, offering expectant parents an exciting glimpse into their baby’s early development. Additionally, healthcare providers can measure the embryo’s size and confirm its position within the uterus.

Why Are Early Pregnancy Scans Important?

Early pregnancy scans offer numerous benefits for expectant parents, including:

  • Confirmation of Pregnancy: Early scans provide definitive evidence of pregnancy, offering reassurance and peace of mind.
  • Dating the Pregnancy: By measuring the embryo’s size, healthcare providers can estimate gestational age and predict the due date more accurately.
  • Detecting Complications: Early scans can identify potential complications such as ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages, allowing for prompt medical intervention if necessary.
  • Multiple Pregnancies: Early scans can detect the presence of multiple embryos or fetuses, enabling healthcare providers to monitor the pregnancy more closely.

Preparing for Your Early Pregnancy Scan

Before scheduling your first pregnancy scan, it’s essential to follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider. These may include:

  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water before the scan can help improve the clarity of the ultrasound images.
  • Bladder Filling: Depending on the type of scan (transvaginal or abdominal), you may need to have a full bladder for optimal imaging.
  • Clothing: Wear comfortable clothing that allows easy access to your abdomen during the scan.

Early pregnancy scans play a crucial role in monitoring the health and development of the embryo or fetus. By scheduling your first scan around six to eight weeks of gestation, you can confirm the pregnancy, estimate gestational age, and ensure the well-being of both you and your baby. If you have any questions or concerns about early pregnancy scans, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your healthcare provider.


Is it normal to have an early pregnancy scan?

Yes, early pregnancy scans are a routine part of prenatal care and are recommended for most expectant mothers.

Can I see the baby’s heartbeat during an early pregnancy scan?

In many cases, the baby’s heartbeat becomes visible on ultrasound images around six to eight weeks of gestation.

What if I can’t schedule an early pregnancy scan at six to eight weeks?

If you’re unable to schedule a scan during the recommended timeframe, don’t worry. Your healthcare provider can still perform a scan at a later date to assess the health and development of the pregnancy.

Are early pregnancy scans safe for the baby?

Yes, early pregnancy scans are considered safe and have no known risks to the baby or mother when performed by qualified healthcare professionals.

How long does an early pregnancy scan take?

The duration of an early pregnancy scan typically ranges from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on various factors such as the clarity of the images and the complexity of the examination.

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