WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR FIRST ULTRASOUND SCAN

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR FIRST ULTRASOUND SCAN

After a positive pregnancy test, your doctor may recommend you schedule an early pregnancy ultrasound scan around 7 1/2 to 8 weeks of pregnancy. Some medical practices don’t schedule the first ultrasound until between 11 and 14 weeks.

Your doctor may recommend this scan as early as 6 weeks if you:

  • have a prior medical condition
  • have had a miscarriage
  • had difficulty maintaining a pregnancy in the past

During your first ultrasound appointment, the doctor or ultrasound technician will check for the following:

  • confirm viable pregnancy, and check for non-viable molar or ectopic pregnancy
  • confirm baby’s heartbeat
  • measure baby’s crown-to-rump length, which can help determine gestational age
  • assess abnormal gestation
  • Baby’s heartrate

Your baby’s heartbeat should be between 90-110 beats per minute (bpm) at 6 to 7 weeks. By the ninth week, your baby’s heartbeat should reach 140-170 bpm.

 

Why you might not hear baby’s heartbeat

You might not be able to hear a baby’s heartbeat at your first ultrasound. Most commonly, this is because it’s too early in the pregnancy. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

Your doctor may recommend you schedule another ultrasound 1 to 2 weeks later.

Other reasons you might not hear the heartbeat include:

  • having a tipped uterus
  • having a large abdomen
  • being less far along than you thought
  • If no heartbeat is detected, your doctor will check your fetal measurements. Your health care provider may be concerned if there’s no fetal heartbeat in an embryo with a crown-rump length greater than 5 millimeters.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR FIRST ULTRASOUND SCANAfter week 6, your doctor will also be concerned if there is no gestational sac. Your doctor may request a blood test to confirm the pregnancy, or request you come back a few days later for another ultrasound.

What devices are used to hear baby’s heartbeat?

At your first scan, your doctor or an ultrasound technician will use a transvaginal ultrasound, or a 2D or 3D abdominal ultrasound.

The transvaginal ultrasound is used during early pregnancy to get a clear image of an embryo. A 3D ultrasound allows the doctor to better see the width, height, and depth of the fetus and your organs.

Can you hear baby’s heartbeat with the human ear?

Detecting a fetal heartbeat is very difficult, if not impossible, for the human ear.

But some expecting mothers claim they can hear their baby’s heartbeat through their belly. This may be possible in a quiet room likely late during the second or third trimester.

Don’t be concerned if you can’t hear your baby’s heartbeat at home.

 

If you are worried about your baby’s heartbeat, your safest option is to reach out to your doctor. They can schedule a sonogram to reassure you that your baby’s heartbeat is normal.

Heartbeat changes throughout pregnancy

Throughout pregnancy, your baby’s heart will continue to develop. A fetal heartbeat starts at between 90 and 110 bpm during the first weeks of pregnancy. It will increase and peak at around weeks 9 to 10, between 140 and 170 bpm.

After that, a normal fetal heartbeat is considered between 110 and 160 bpm in the second and third trimester. Keep in mind, your baby’s heartbeat can vary throughout pregnancy and at each prenatal appointment.

Your doctor may be concerned if your baby’s heartbeat is too slow, too fast, or is irregular. If so, there’s a rare chance your baby could have a heart condition. That’s why your doctor will monitor your baby’s heartbeat at every appointment.

SUMMARY

Your doctor will monitor your baby’s heartbeat at each prenatal appointment. You may be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time as early as 6 weeks.

If you are concerned about your baby’s heartbeat, talk to your doctor. Your prenatal team can keep a close watch on the heartbeat throughout your pregnancy and into labor and delivery.

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