What Is An Early Pregnancy Scan?

After seeing those two lines, you and your partner may sit and flicker between thinking you're seeing things or obsessing over the idea of becoming parents. Cut out all the "what ifs" and get your pregnancy confirmed earlier at an early pregnancy clinic. "What is that?", you ask? We have all the answers. 

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What Is An Early Pregnancy Clinic?

An early pregnancy clinic, otherwise known as an Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC), is a clinic for women who are up to 12 weeks pregnant with any of the following problems;

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy, 
  • Two or more previous miscarriages, 
  • Vaginal bleeding, 
  • Abdominal pain, 
  • Intrauterine device (the coil) still in place.

You can't walk in, book an appointment or refer yourself to the EPA Clinic but you can be referred by your GP (or an out of hours GP), your midwife or Accident & Emergency Department at your hospital. 

What Is An Early Pregnancy Scan?

An "early pregnancy scan" is an ultrasound that is carried out before the 10 week mark of your pregnancy. You will probably only receive the invitation of an early pregnancy scan, through the NHS, if you're situation falls under one of the categories below; 

  • Severe abdominal pain, 
  • Have vaginal bleeding, 
  • Have a history of miscarriage, 
  • Have a history of ectopic pregnancy,
  • Have had fertility treatment. 

This will usually be when you're between 6 - 10 weeks, the only reason a scan is done before this is to rule out the chances of an ectopic pregnancy. 

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Can I See My Baby At An Early Pregnancy Scan?

Depending on what week of pregnancy you're having the scan will change what is seen on screen. Your baby changes drastically week by week and you will be able to notice a significant difference by the time you come around to have another scan.

Six Weeks Pregnant:

At this time, your baby's sac will be visible and there is every chance your baby's heartbeat could be seen. Your baby's heartbeat will be heard during this time and this can be very reassuring for the mother. 

Seven Weeks Pregnant:

At this stage, you should be able to see the early separation of the embryo from the yolk sac. Measurements can be taken of the baby as your baby should be around 1cm. 

Eight Weeks Pregnant:

You will begin to be able to make out your baby's head, limbs and facial features such as the ears, eyelids and tip of their nose. People often refer to babies looking like little aliens at this stage and it's due to the baby's head looking large compared to the rest of their body.

Nine Weeks Pregnant: 

By nine weeks your baby will almost be a fully formed fetus. Again, your baby will still resemble a little space raider crisp as their head is still out growing their body. You will begin to make out the start of their fingers and toes, even though still slightly webbed. 

Ten Weeks Pregnant:

By ten weeks, your baby can be seen moving on the ultrasound and you will be able to make out movements from their hands and feet. Your baby's skin will still be transparent so you will be able to see their internal organs. 

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