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When is the Best Time to Scan During Pregnancy?

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, shares what to expect during scans.

The moment you first glimpse your unborn baby on an ultrasound scan is unforgettable. A sonar scan gives parents-to-be an exciting sneak peep of their baby. It also serves as a crucial procedure allowing you to see the foetus and track its growth. Your doctor will be able to check progress and screen for specific abnormalities.


Many obstetricians scan during every visit. But scans need only take place at certain stages of pregnancy. Ultrasounds can offer your physician the following enlightening information:

  • Your baby’s progress.
  • Any anomalies.
  • Forecasts of your due date.
  • Whether there are multiple babies.
  • The location of your placenta.
  • The gender of your baby.

What Is an Ultrasound?</h2?

An ultrasound is a form of technology that generates pictures via sound waves. A transducer (or wand) is put in your vagina or on top of your tummy during pregnancy.


It sends out sound waves that bounce off the tissues, fluids, and bones of your baby.

The transducer then detects these echoes and converts them into the image of your baby on the screen.


Healthcare providers perform ultrasounds early in pregnancy. They help confirm the foetal heartbeat and where your baby is in your uterus. Later, ultrasounds check foetal growth and placenta position.


At the end of your pregnancy, ultrasounds help check the length of your cervix. They ensure that all is well before labour. Your baby needs to be in a heads-down position before birth.


Learn More: The Importance of Early Monitoring During Pregnancy

Scans At Different Times During Pregnancy

6 to 8 Weeks

The first scan confirms that your pregnancy is in the uterus. It rules out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. Depending on the gestational phase, it also checks the presence of a yolk sac. It also shows the foetal pole within the gestational sac.


An empty sac may be the consequence of late ovulation. That means that the pregnancy is younger than anticipated. It may suggest a problem during the early embryonic stages.


Your first scan also confirms:

  • The number of foetuses and if there are more babies.
  • That a foetal heartbeat is present.
  • Your estimated due date.


11 to 13 Weeks

Here, a risk assessment determines the chance of these chromosomal abnormalities:

If you fall into the high-risk category, amniocentesis may help shed more light.


18 to 23 Weeks

A comprehensive anatomical scan in your second trimester checks organs and skeletal growth.

Here, you can see:


Learn More: The First Few Months of Pregnancy Explained

In the Third Trimester

In the later stages of pregnancy, serial ultrasounds check that your baby is still okay.


“A high-risk pregnancy will need more frequent monitoring towards birth. Low-risk pregnancies may need only two sonar scans throughout pregnancy. The key times to scan are the 12-week and 20-week points,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


During these scans, your healthcare practitioner will:

  • Measure the head circumference, belly circumference, and femur length of your baby.
  • Measure your baby’s heart rate.
  • Make a rough estimate of the amniotic fluid volume in your womb.
  • Verify the location of the placenta.


After Your Due Date

Before your expected due date, a sonogram determines the volume of amniotic fluid. It also displays how fluid flows via the umbilical cord.


“It’s important to remember that some aspects are more difficult to see during the last trimester. At this point, your baby now takes up more room in the uterus.


Little fingers and toes, hands and feet may be on the side and out of sight. But the good news is that you can see some details more, such as your baby’s facial features. And yes, you can also see if it has mommy’s lips or daddy’s nose,” concludes Hewlett.

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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