8 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound: What to Know Before Your Appointment

8 weeks pregnant ultrasound image

Think you might be 8 weeks pregnant? Here’s what you need to know about this early pregnancy ultrasound.

If you’re 8 weeks pregnant, you may be dealing with a range of emotions in addition to physical pregnancy symptoms. This early along in your pregnancy journey, it’s normal to feel apprehensive about all the unknowns ahead. Ultrasounds play an important role in providing you and your healthcare practitioner with vital information on how your baby is growing and developing in real-time.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why you may get an ultrasound at 8 weeks
  • What to expect at your appointment and questions to ask
  • The details you’ll be able to see on the ultrasound monitor
  • How to understand and share those amazing first ultrasound images

8 Reasons to get an ultrasound at 8 weeks pregnant

This prenatal ultrasound is often the first chance you and your healthcare practitioner will have to actually confirm your pregnancy. The results of this early pregnancy ultrasound give you a standard to refer to going forward. Your practitioner will likely order an ultrasound around the 8-week mark to:

  1. Determine an accurate gestational age so you get an estimate of your due date
  2. Measure the size of your embryo using crown rump length. This helps narrow down your due date
  3. Check whether you have more than one embryo or multiple pregnancies, especially if twins or triplets run in the family
  4. Ensure your pregnancy is intrauterine, meaning it’s embedded in your uterus
  5. Scan for sources of vaginal bleeding, if you have any
  6. Screen for abnormal conditions such as an ectopic or molar pregnancy
  7. Examine your cervix, ovaries, and uterus
  8. Detect the embryo’s heartbeat for the first time

Is 8 weeks too early for an ultrasound?

On the contrary, 8 weeks is often the first point at which your healthcare professional will order an ultrasound—mainly so they can confirm you are, in fact, pregnant. Having an ultrasound at 8 weeks pregnant will give you and your practitioner a baseline from which to measure your progress.

What to expect at your 8 weeks pregnant ultrasound appointment

During your ultrasound appointment, a trained technician called a sonographer will use a hand-held device called a transducer to create sound waves. Too quiet for human ears to hear, those sound waves travel through your body and the ultrasound machine detects and uses them to create an image of your baby’s position and shape.

Ultrasounds are very safe when performed by trained technicians. The sound waves are painless and don’t require radiation. Both Health Canada and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration consider ultrasounds low-risk procedures.

Is an 8 week scan internal or external?

There are two main types of pregnancy ultrasound. With a transabdominal ultrasound, the sonographer will squeeze gel onto your belly, then run a wand over the surface of your skin. In a transvaginal ultrasound, the lubricated wand is inserted into your vagina.

At 8 weeks, you’re likely to have a transvaginal ultrasound. In the early stages of pregnancy, the embryo is so small that the transducer successfully captures more details inside the vaginal canal than it can outside the abdomen.

How to prepare for your appointment

Ultrasounds aren’t complicated scans, but there are some things you can do to help prepare, such as:

  • Bringing a copy of your requisition. This documentation communicates exactly which type of exam you require and makes the check-in process easier (in case your practitioner hasn’t sent your requisition in advance to the clinic or hospital).
  • Booking your appointment when your baby is most active. Movement helps the transducer capture as many images as possible. Having a cold and sugary beverage just before your appointment can also help make the embryo more active.
  • Arriving with a full bladder. Sound travels well through liquid so having a full bladder will help the sonographer get the best images.
  • Drinking plenty of water in the week before your appointment. Your amniotic fluid is clear when you’re well-hydrated, which makes for better images.
  • Choosing comfortable, loose clothing. Make sure what you wear is easy to get in and out of.
  • Having someone with you. Check in advance if the hospital or imaging clinic will allow a support person with you in the exam room.

What can you see on an ultrasound at 8 weeks pregnant?

At your 8 weeks ultrasound, you and your team will gain valuable information about how your pregnancy is progressing. Your embryo will be roughly the size of a bean, around half an inch (1-1.5 cm) long. During your ultrasound you may be able to see the following:

  • Gestational sac: a dark circle-like shape around the embryo, the fluid-filled gestational sac is often the first visible sign of pregnancy.
  • Yolk sac: providing the embryo with nutrients, the yolk sac is absorbed by the end of the first trimester.
  • Embryo: you should be able to make out the shape of its small body distinct from its comparatively large head.
  • Amniotic sac: full of fluid with thin walls, the amniotic sac protects the embryo while allowing for movement.
  • Umbilical cord: transmits oxygen and nutrients to the developing embryo.
8 weeks pregnant ultrasound labeled diagram

Ultrasound image at 8 weeks pregnant

You won’t see too much fine detail in your 8 weeks ultrasound. For instance, you’re not likely to see limbs, nor will you be able to discern the sex of your baby. Those opportunities will come with further ultrasounds later on in your pregnancy or if you’ve opted for additional screening later in your first trimester.

Can you see a heartbeat at 8 weeks pregnant on an ultrasound?

It’s possible to hear a heartbeat during your 8 weeks pregnant ultrasound but there are also valid reasons you might not. If you incorrectly estimated the date of conception, it may still be too early to detect a heartbeat. Or, if you have a transabdominal ultrasound, you might not be able to hear the heartbeat through your abdominal wall.

Questions to ask during and after your ultrasound appointment

You can ask the sonographer questions about the ultrasound procedure itself, like:

  • Can I have someone in the room with me?
  • How long will the appointment last?
  • How will you share the images and results?
  • Can I take photos or videos of my own?

The sonographer is not allowed to answer questions about what your ultrasound contains. They’ll prepare the images, which are reviewed by a radiologist. The radiologist then prepares a report summary for your practitioner, who will go over the results with you. At your follow-up appointment with your healthcare professional you can ask:

  • What are the signs of a healthy pregnancy at 8 weeks? Am I demonstrating those signs?
  • What is my estimated date of conception and due date?
  • How big is the embryo? What is the crown rump length? What’s the overall size?
  • Did we hear a heartbeat? If so, what is the fetal heart rate? If not, why?
  • What kind of nutritional and lifestyle adjustments should I be making?
  • What happens next?

How quickly can you get your 8 weeks pregnant ultrasound pictures and report?

Many patients want to see the results of their 8 weeks ultrasound as fast as possible. With PocketHealth, you can quickly access and share your pregnancy ultrasound images and report, sometimes even before the follow-up appointment with your practitioner. Access your records here.

PocketHealth allows you to securely access, share, and store your images and health information in one place. Plus, you can easily share ultrasound images with friends and family, so they can see how your pregnancy develops.

If you need clarity on the terms in your ultrasound report, PocketHealth Report Reader can help. Report Reader can help you understand the results of your 8 weeks pregnant ultrasound, so you feel confident and prepared when talking to your pregnancy care practitioner.

Looking ahead to your next ultrasound appointment

An ultrasound at 8 weeks will confirm your pregnancy, measure the size of your embryo and give you an estimated due date. You won’t get much in the way of close detail, but you’ll be able to see the embryo and the yolk sac inside the gestational sac. And you’ll get images, mostly likely for the very first time!

Safe and low risk, your 8 weeks pregnant ultrasound is a landmark event. You’ll gain a baseline from which to measure changes going forward in your pregnancy journey. Knowing what to expect will help you be comfortable and confident at your appointment and feel more empowered to ask questions at your follow-up, so you can happily anticipate the next stage of your pregnancy.

How PocketHealth works

Learn more about how to use PocketHealth to access and share your pregnancy ultrasound records.

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