Your first Ultrasound scan: What to expect

First pregnancy ultrasound

Can you believe that this is going to be your first look of your baby? No wonder you’ll be floating to this doctor's appointment -- it is understandable that this is the moment most pregnant women are first looking forward to.

What happens during the first pregnancy ultrasound?

Ultrasounds during pregnancy can be exhilarating experiences. The ultrasound can be performed right at the doctor's office or your local clinic. Typically, you lie down on an inclined chair with your belly exposed. A technician or your doctor will rub gel on your belly. The gel will allow a transducer (a device that looks like a microphone but can pick up ultrasound signals) to move smoothly over your belly and will improve the transmission of sound waves through your body. The principle behind this is that the sound waves will bounce off any obstructive surfaces within your body as vibrations. This includes your baby! That’s how you’re able to see the grainy first image of your developing baby on a monitor. But don’t worry - an abdominal ultrasound carries no risk to you or your baby. Au contraire, it helps to check on your baby's development during pregnancy.

If you are not too far along (at least 8 weeks), you may have to be checked using a vaginal probe (a device that looks like a rod which will be inserted into your vagina). An ultrasound will reveal your baby's heart rate, the umbilical cord, the baby’s size, and the placenta. It will also tell you if you how many babies you are having.

The doctor/technician is looking for any physical characteristics that might signal any abnormality. While ultrasounds can't detect all birth defects, it can indicate some important things to look out for. Your doctor will give you these reports at the end of your session. It is an excellent diagnostic tool that can help reassure you that both your pregnancy, and your baby are doing great.