December 4, 2023Read More
Early pregnancy can be a mixed bag of emotions. And you may have a lot of questions about what comes next in these early weeks of pregnancy. Ultrasounds play a vital role in helping you and your healthcare team determine pregnancy viability and how far along you really are.
Learning as much as you can about your first pregnancy ultrasound can help you feel more confident at your prenatal ultrasound appointment and prepare questions for your follow-up appointment with your practitioner.
Read on to discover:
At 7 weeks, an ultrasound can tell your practitioner key information about how your baby is growing and how your body is responding. This is also the first chance you’ll have to see an image of the tiny embryo growing inside you. The embryo will not be classified as a fetus until after week 8, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Your practitioner will send you for an early pregnancy ultrasound to:
This ultrasound will also provide your practitioner with important information about pregnancy complications like ectopic or molar pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo develops outside the uterus and in the case of a molar pregnancy, groups of cells form but do not develop into a fetus.
During an ultrasound, a sonographer or trained technician uses a hand-held device called a transducer. The transducer creates sound waves (too quiet for human ears to hear) that travel painlessly through your body to your baby. An ultrasound machine then detects the sound waves and uses them to create an image of your baby’s exact position and shape.
Ultrasounds are safe when performed by a trained sonographer, specialized practitioner, or ultrasound technician, according to Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Unlike X-rays, ultrasounds don’t use radiation to capture images.
During a transvaginal ultrasound, a sonographer will place a wand-shaped transducer inside your vagina to capture more detailed images of different parts of your baby and your womb and cervix. Transvaginal ultrasounds are more effective at the early stages of pregnancy because the embryo is so small that the transducer can capture more details inside the vaginal canal than outside the abdomen.
Pregnancy ultrasounds require some preparation. You can make sure you’re ready for your early pregnancy transvaginal ultrasound by:
Your 7 weeks ultrasound will give your practitioner a lot of information about how your embryo is developing and how your body is adjusting to pregnancy. At this stage, the embryo is roughly one third of an inch (10 mm) long. During your ultrasound, you’ll be able to see the following:
Since your baby is still in the embryo stage, you won’t be able to see facial features, arms and legs or fingers and toes just yet. Your sonographer also won’t be able to discern the sex of your baby until your 18-20 week anatomy scan or later in your first trimester if you’ve opted for additional screening.
If your baby is in a good position for viewing, you may be able to catch a glimpse of your baby’s tiny heart beating. You may even hear a sound you’ve been waiting for: your baby’s heartbeat.
Between 6 and 7 weeks, it’s possible to hear the early electronic flutters of your baby’s heart, which beats at a rate of 90-110 beats per minute—much faster than an adult heart rate! Your ultrasound technician will be able to measure these beats on the monitor at your appointment.
If you’re worried about your ultrasound appointment, asking your practitioner or sonographer questions in advance can help you feel more prepared. Keep in mind that you can discuss your early pregnancy ultrasound results with your practitioner, but your sonographer cannot legally answer questions about your baby or your health during the appointment.
Questions to ask during your ultrasound appointment:
Your 7 weeks ultrasound gives your practitioner important information about how your new baby is growing and how your body is responding to pregnancy. At your follow-up appointment you can ask your practitioner:
We’ve heard that many patients want to see their 7 week ultrasound images and report as quickly as possible. With PocketHealth, you can quickly and easily access and share your pregnancy ultrasound images and report—often before seeing your practitioner for a follow-up. Access your records here.
PocketHealth also enables you to securely access, share and store your imaging and other health information all in one place. And it’s easy to share images with family and friends, so they can see how your baby grows over time.
If you need clarity on the terms in your ultrasound report, PocketHealth Report Reader is there to help. Report Reader makes it easier to understand certain terms so you feel more prepared when speaking to your pregnancy care practitioner.
Your first ultrasound is a major milestone in confirming your pregnancy! The more knowledge you can gain ahead of each ultrasound appointment, the more empowered you’ll feel to ask questions that can help you better understand your ultrasound images and reports.