Scans & Tests 822 posts

Don't even think of missing the First Trimester Scans if you care for your baby!

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First Trimester Scans

The first trimester scans are important as they offer a lot of early information about how the baby is developing, their health and if they are suffering from any congenital or chromosomal deficits. Typically, a mother-to-be has two scans in the first trimester. The first scan is ideally done between week 6 and week 9 and the second is done between week 11 and week 13. While the first scan is called the dating and viability scan, the second is called a nuchal translucency scan.

First scan

The dating and viability scan confirms the pregnancy. It also helps determine if the baby has Down syndrome or Trisomy 18. Down syndrome is a congenital disorder that causes lifelong impairment in social and physical development of the child. On the other hand, Trisomy 18 causes severe delays in developmental growth and often proves to be fatal by age 1. This is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome called Chromosome 18. The first scan also checks for the following:

  • Presence of heartbeat: Heartbeat is one of the first signs that confirms the viability of a pregnancy. It can usually be heard from around week 6 and the first scan can help you hear this.

  • Position of baby: This scan helps check the position of the baby in the uterus. It ensures that the fetus has not implanted itself in the tubes or anywhere else except for the uterus.

  • Due date: As it is not possible to ascertain the due date basis the menstrual cycle (some women may have irregular periods or may not remember the exact date of their last period), this scan helps determine the time elapsed since the pregnancy and the likely due date.

  • Number of babies: The first scan also determines the number of babies you are carrying.

The date and viability scan might either be a transvaginal scan (TVS) or an abdominal scan. If the scan is performed before you complete 10 weeks, then a TVS would be performed, as the baby is too small and too low for the abdominal ultrasound to detect.

Second scan

A lot of mothers-to-be may miss the first scan if they realize that they are pregnant at a later date or because they have irregular periods. In this case, the nuchal translucency scan is performed. This is an abdominal scan and measures the clear space in the tissue at the child’s nape. This particular scan also checks for the following:

  • Placenta position

  • Presence and length of nasal bone

  • Fetal spine and limbs

  • Fetal stomach and any defects in the abdominal wall

  • Urinary bladder

  • Blood circulation

  • Cervix of the mother-to-be

  • Crown to rump length of the baby

Why are first scans important?

The first scans are important in the following cases:

  • Irregular periods

  • Previous miscarriage

  • Spotting or bleeding

  • Two or more pregnancies

  • Maternal age more than 35 years

  • Any other pregnancy complications

First scans in the pregnancy are necessary to help you prepare for the course of your pregnancy, further tests, medical treatment and how to manage a child with special needs, if you have one. It prepares you mentally and physically for the upcoming challenges of a pregnancy.

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