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Early scan - is it worth it?

(50 Posts)
afrikat Fri 08-Feb-13 08:59:18

I am 7+5 (I think) and after a couple of my good friends finding out at the 12 week scan the foetus wasnt viable I am considering paying for an early scan. I just can't stand the thought of going through another month of thinking I have a growing baby inside me only to find out it has been dead for weeks.

I saw a stat somewhere that said if it was alive at 8 weeks the chances of it dying drop dramatically - does anyone know if this is true? Do you think it's worth getting the scan for some reassurance (or to at least get bad news over with) or should I just be patient and hope everything is ok? Has anyone had any bad experiences with early scans?

Any opinions welcome!

Haylebop12 Fri 08-Feb-13 09:03:28

Watching with interest. (I was one of those that got to 12 weeks to be told baby died 9 weeks)

It's really up to you.
Remember the vast majority go to their 12 week scan to find everything is normal. It's very rare to get to 12 wks and suffered a mc without any bleeding or cramps. I have had 3 mc's and this pg I got scanned every wk from 6-13 weeks. To me this helped, but also made me worry more. A scan is a good reassurance, and seeing a heartbeat after 8 weeks is a positive sign but unfortunately doesn't give you the 100% that everything will still be ok at 12 weeks. My 2nd mc was at 9-10 wks. If you want the reassurance go for it, just be prepared that it doesn't mean that everything will still be ok at 12. Sorry I really don't mean to sound as negative as I'm sounding. Congratulations, and I'm sure everything is/will be fine. Unfortunately there is no cure for this worrying, and it never goes!! If you can afford it go for it, who would say no to a sneak peek smile

Rache1S Fri 08-Feb-13 09:11:55

I didn't bother having one but I think this covers the statistics you were wondering about. I hope everything goes well for you smile


The one thing that worries me about early scans is that there is no research that details the risks .

Yes it is nice to see your baby on the screen - but every time the sonographer puts the probe on intense heat is going into your baby . That baby is in the vital stages of development .

Just something to think about .

I did with my fourth pregnancy, It felt different from the start and was worrying, also there was a scanning place just next to where I worked so temptation got the better if me. I had the scan at 7 and half weeks and it cost £80.
It was also DP's first baby so he was anxious, I'll never forget the look on his face when they asked
'Is there twins in the family?'
And two little beating hearts.

Haylebop12 Fri 08-Feb-13 09:15:49

little miss I was one of those that got to twelve weeks with no bleeding and cramping to find out bad news :-(

I didn't realise how common it was until I tarted using mn.

It has been proven that scans are completely safe. Stats are somewhere.

Hayle as I said in my post I have had 3 mc and on MN you will find lots that it has happened to, but it is still the minority rather than the majority

It has been proven that the routine (ie two) scans offered in pregnancy are safe .

But what about the extra exposure of repeated early scans ? Those that are not recommended and done for reassurance ?

The probe passes heat to get the picture - that can't be a good thing .

I am a health professional and this is just coming from a conversation I had with a sonographer at work .

TwitchyTail Fri 08-Feb-13 09:48:41

I am a health professional and pregnant, and would not have any scans that were not medically necessary, including early ones if I had no symptoms. There is another thread on here with a poster currently going through a very rough time due to any early private scan that showed no heartbeat - she is having to deal with the worry and uncertainty that her baby has died when in reality there is an excellent chance it was just too early to see it. Each scan you have raises the possibility of finding something concerning that then requires (unnecessary) investigation and anxiety.

I often hear about scans being done for "reassurance". That only works if the scan is reassuring! And it can be a false reassurance, as just because your baby is viable at 8 weeks sadly does not guarantee that the pregnancy will continue. You are right that the risk of miscarriage reduces once a heartbeat is seen, but there are plenty of women who have miscarriages between 8-12 weeks and even later. Pregnancy by its nature is unpredictable.

So, it's a very personal decision. But I myself would opt for being patient and waiting for the 12 week scan, to get a more reliable result. Others may disagree and that's ok - everyone's different smile

TwitchyTail Fri 08-Feb-13 09:51:45

And Haylebop - I am so sorry for your loss. But if you had had a scan at 8 weeks like the OP is suggesting, it would have demonstrated a viable fetus and been given "reassurance" (if you lost at 9 weeks). Would this have made it easier or harder to deal with the subsequent loss? Genuine question, I honestly don't know how I would feel in this situation.

Rockchick1984 Fri 08-Feb-13 09:52:53

Personally I'm going to. I had a scan at 7 weeks last time due to severe cramping - saw the heartbeat and was reassured everything was fine. Sonographer told me that after seeing the heartbeat your risk of miscarriage drops from 25% to 4% so for me that is a huge change in statistics and one I'm going to pay to check for this time.

afrikat Fri 08-Feb-13 10:02:04

Thanks for the replies - a good range of opinions! Going to give it some more thought I think - totally get that it may be too early to see anything and that there is still a chance of miscarriage after 8 weeks but also think I would like to know if there is a heartbeat at this point... I have a suspicion that this undercurrent of worry is going to be with me for life isn't it??

Floggingmolly Fri 08-Feb-13 10:05:27

Seeing a heartbeat at 8 weeks is obviously no guarantee that everything will continue well; but statistically the chances of miscarriage drop significantly (to much the same odds as an all clear at 12 weeks). If it will put your mind at rest, I'd do it.

Haylebop12 Fri 08-Feb-13 10:23:14

twitchy I did have a scan at 7.4 due to HG and saw good hb. That's why I am undecided what to do...

Midori1999 Fri 08-Feb-13 11:06:20

I have had numerous scans in early pregnancy and in my last pregnancy I had over 20 scans and all was fine. I have been told by numerous sonographers and consultants that scans are safe in pregnancy. In some countries in Europe and in the USA, it's routine to do many more than two scans in pregnancy.

As for whether as early scan can reassure you. Well, yes, it can, although it can also be worrying. I will be having an early scan this time, as well as numerous other scans. Having had early miscarriages and the late loss of twins (although they were both born alive) I can't really see that anything could make it worse tbh.

afrikat Fri 08-Feb-13 11:41:42

Right am booked in for next Wednesday evening so fingers crossed! I should be over 8 weeks so hopefully it won't be too early and there is something wriggling away in there..

To add to the info above re: USA scanning - they definitely do more there as my SIL is pg and she is due for her first scan at 7 weeks then gets another at 10 and several more after that I think.

So sorry to those of you who have not had successful pregnancies - am dreading something going wrong but know that there isn't much I can do about it. My heart goes out to everyone who has had to deal with a loss and thanks for taking the time to offer your opinions x

TwitchyTail Fri 08-Feb-13 12:09:02

Good luck afrikat - hope all is well and you see a happy little bean smile

GinAndSlimlinePlease Fri 08-Feb-13 12:13:15

I had a scan quite early because of cramping and bleeding. all they could see was an empty sac. So now I'm waiting and worrying before my next scan.

If I had no problems, I would not be having an early scan. Yes, it must be truly horrible to get to 12 weeks and find out that there was a mmc. But an earlier scan isn't going to change the outcome.

afrikat I hope everything works out well for you

pinkbananabread Fri 08-Feb-13 12:27:33

I had early scans (around 8wks) with both of mine. We waited until then since I read somewhere that the weeks 6-8 are the 'riskiest': that's when the organs and systems develop, so if the foetus makes it past then, the risk of MC lessens considerably. Yes you could get a 'reassuring' scan at 8wks and then lose the baby at 9wks, but you could get a good scan at 12wks and lose the baby at 13wks, or a good scan at 20wks and lose the baby at 21wks. There is never an absolute guarantee after any scan: the risks go down, but they are never eliminated. It's up to you as to when you're prepared to feel reassured.

And I'm in the USA now and some doctors scan you every time they see you: there don't seem to be any concerns at all about the 'safety' or otherwise of scans. I didn't move here until end of second tri, but newly pregnant friends have all been scanned at the appointment where they reported a skipped period/positive pregnancy test (where in the UK you'd just get a cheesy booklet about some annoying woman called Emma...). I really wouldn't worry about the safety. When I had the early scans in the UK, both times they only checked the heartbeat for long enough to get a clear reading (a few seconds).

Babyiwantabump it is not routine to have just one or two scans. What about women carrying multiples? It is routine for them to have many scans. I had 11 scan while I was pregnant with my twins. A women I know having triplets must have had over 15 scans by now. Those were all routine scans.

weeblueberry Fri 08-Feb-13 12:55:09

Can someone please point me to the studies they're referring to when they say multiple scans cause distress/problems?

Yes but the majority of them would have been done after 24 weeks as growth scans ?

It is the early scans - before 12 weeks which are debatable .

Unless scanning for cervical length etc then the benefits do not really outweigh the risks . IYSWIM .

Floggingmolly Fri 08-Feb-13 13:00:33

They may be "debatable", baby, but there is no evidence whatsoever that they may be harmful. Please don't worry people already feeling vulnerable.

Thumbwitch Fri 08-Feb-13 13:29:58

I had an early scan at 6+4 with DS2, because I'd had 3 MCs, one of them actually started at the early viability scan sad. It was the first time since DS1 that I'd seen a heartbeat which was massively reassuring - I'd had scans for all MCs and no heartbeat seen (obviously).
It also helped date-wise - as I'd successfully managed to blank when my periods came to avoid the stress of day-counting while TTC - I honestly couldn't remember when my LMP had started blush

Anyway. It's up to you - but bear in mind that in reality it won't make any difference to the outcome whether or not you have the early scan.

FoofFighter Fri 08-Feb-13 14:07:59

Got any links to back up that claim babyiwantabump?

I do feel you are (needlessly perhaps?) going to be worrying a lot of folk on here who have had early scans -for medical reasons - and are feeling very vulnerable about their developing babies.

FoofFighter Fri 08-Feb-13 14:09:11

And by links I do mean actual statistics/studies/research, not just some bunkum.

OhGood Fri 08-Feb-13 14:11:03

Private scan at 9 weeks. Perfect baby. Sonographer said chances of miscarrying were very low. Really helped me to relax into pregnancy, as had m/c before. But then at 12-week scan, showed abnormalities - cyst on abdomen. Was even more horrific because I was feeling so confident.

So things can change, but I'm unlucky, and I would go for the early scan again, definitely definitely.

Good luck and congratulations!

Midori1999 Fri 08-Feb-13 14:11:45

I specifically asked if early scanning could increase the risk of miscarriage and was told an unequivocal no, it does not.

GinAndSlimlinePlease Fri 08-Feb-13 14:18:46

I asked the same question at the early pregnancy unit, and was told there wasn't enough evidence to say it was definitely safe.

I went and had the scan because I was bleeding and cramping and needed to know. To me that outweighed any slight risk.

belsize77 Fri 08-Feb-13 14:28:26

I was obsessed with this myself as I had loads of scans in my last pregnancy due to a suspected problem. This study was the only significant reference I could find. It seems that whilst extensive scanning may not have been proved to be 100% safe there is no significant evidence of any specific risks, none of the numerous consultants I saw seemed even slightly worried about the risk. I don't count left handedness as a risk myself.

BabyOuch Fri 08-Feb-13 15:42:10

Hi Afrikat I would defo say yes. I am on my first pregnancy and had a private scan at 8+3. It was wonderful, I knew baby was in right place etc and heart beat was strong. I am due to have 12 wk scan on Weds. It really does put your mind at ease and was well worth the money.

There is no medical research that shows scans (or the number of them) are harmful to you or the baby. Some friends that have had complications and for medical research purposes have been scanned numerous times throughout multiple pregnancies and each time all ok and have been reassured by top consultants that there is no harm to the baby or themselves.
Congratulations and go for it!!

afrikat Fri 08-Feb-13 16:01:07

I have paid my deposit now so it's definitely happening smile tbf the scan costs about the same amount as a night out boozing which we won't be doing for a while!

I am not concerned at all about the safety tbh - there is no evidence it isn't safe and a few anecdotal comments don't really worry me

Have still got to wait 5 days for the appointment (I am soo impatient, want it done now!!) but I think it is the right thing for me. Thanks for all your comments!

PurpleStorm Fri 08-Feb-13 20:57:08

Hope your scan goes well.

Personally, I wouldn't have an early scan unless I had worrying symptoms - but that's partly because having an early scan wouldn't change the outcome if I did miscarry, and partly in case I'd got my dates wrong and was getting a scan before baby had grown enough for the heartbeat to be seen.

I don't have any worries about the safety of the standard 2-D scans you get on the NHS.

Christelle2207 Fri 08-Feb-13 21:31:37

I paid at 8 weeks and it was great, definitely read somewhere that if hb at 8 weeks, risk of mc less than 1% (of course that will not include other issues with baby).

Unless you are very sure of your dates though just be prepared that if you're more than a few days out you might not see hb yet, and that's not necessarily a bad thing but will cause worry. That's why I had mine at 8, not 7 wks. Best of luck x

PurplePoppySeed Sat 09-Feb-13 09:19:14

I had an early scan last week at the EPU as I'd previously had a MMC, whilst seeing the hb was good, I agree with some of the comments above, I'm not really that much more positive now than I was a week before the scan as one of the main comments was that it was small and probably only 6 weeks, so rather than reassuring me that I've got past the 8 week mark, I'm worrying that I'm still not there!

They want be back next week, so I'm lucky and tbh I'd probably still pay for a private one as I had a bit of reassurance on the day.

Good luck africak, we're all different, fingers crossed its exactly what you need.

It is honestly up to you whether you want to pay for an early scan - if it gives you reassurance at that particular time and helps you to cope with any anxieties the do it.

I went for an early scan last weekend and was told there was no heartbeat - I was devastated and had to prepare myself for miscarrying. I went to my EPU to have it confirmed and was told there is a sac, yolk and blood supply but I have to now wait 2 weeks for a re-scan to see whether things are progressing as they should and the wait is awful hmm

If there is any confusion over your dates then I wouldn't do it as the devastation you feel when expecting to see a heartbeat and hearing there isn't one is awful and ultimately won't change the outcome.

Good luck with the scan smile x

photographerlady Sat 09-Feb-13 11:22:49

I had a 8 wk scan and found it to be a life changer for me. After fertility treatment was amazing to see the little heart beating

afrikat Sat 09-Feb-13 14:26:52

Am pretty sure of dates as periods are regular so hopefully I am passed the 8 week point and there will be something to see. Not sure if its going to end up being the best decision or not but I am happy we are doing it and hoping for the best smile

Rockchick1984 Sat 09-Feb-13 16:56:04

Afrikat I've just booked my scan for 8weeks too, been meaning to do it for a couple of days so finally arranged it smile

Dogsmom Sat 09-Feb-13 18:14:46

I was toying with the idea in my early pregnancy but after reading posts on here it seems that even if you see a heartbeat then go on to have symptoms of a MC there's nothing they do anyway other than tell you to rest. It took me 3 years to get pg and I was so paranoid until the 12 week scan but kept trusting that as I'd had no symptoms that the odds were hugely in my favour.

Cost was another issue, we could only afford one private scan and decided to wait and have a 16 week gender scan instead.


I read this there is a few more on midwifery today not trying to worry anyone i have m/c before and was considering an early scan this put me off.

noblegiraffe Sun 10-Feb-13 00:26:20

Hmm, what a shoddy article, someone needs to tell midwiferytoday that correlation does not imply causation. An increase in ultrasound scans and an increase in autism diagnoses does not mean the two are connected. The study done on the mouse also does not reflect what happens in a pregnancy scan either so I would be dubious about that causing concern too.

Falcon there are many more papers showing the gaps in that paper. It is very misleading and if a pregnant woman is worried, overly anxious or stressed having a scan far outweighs any other possible risks

Bodicea Sun 10-Feb-13 09:38:51

Right been reading this with interest. I am a sonographer and want to get a few things straight with people.
Early scans are not a risk as long as they do not use colour Doppler and are not for an extended period of time. The risk comes with heat increasing if you are focusing on something for and extended period of time. Responsible sonographer s do not use colour Doppler before the second trimester - in fact not really till 20 weeks. 3d/4d scans are also associated with increased heat and you should not have one before 20 weeks. I personally wouldn't have 4d for more than a couple of minutes - I don't like the way some people pay for a full hour etc.. There Are no legal limits with this - it's all about being sensible, risk versus benefit, which is which you need a fully qualified sonographer who had studied it extensively not any old health professional who picks up a probe and thinks they know how to scan.
Early scans are quick and safe and some studies show that scan in early pregnancy can reduce risk of mc as it reduces stress for the woman-this is v tenuous I think but I guess it's down to the individual. If you want a scan go for it.
By the way in the US they have a completely different attitude as it is all about the money - they also X-ray everyone for anything and everything and are quite irresponsible in my opinion not taking Into account risk versus benefit.

Bodicea Sun 10-Feb-13 09:46:30

Also they are always trying to pin stuff on u/s. there was a study a while back that tried to pin left handedness on u/s - didn't take into account that left handedness became acceptable and they stopped forcing kids hands behind their backs at roughly the same time u/s started becoming more prevalent!

PurpleStorm Sun 10-Feb-13 14:00:26

That's reassuring, Bodicea - I had tons of scans with DS because of various pregnancy problems - all deemed necessary by GPs, midwives or consultants - and was getting very worried about him after reading Falcon's link!

I dont not put the link up to piss anyone off it was purely because I looked into having a scan and came across it. I think if you need/feel more comfortable having more scans then thats your right.

If I had any symtoms ie bleeding or lack of fetal movement I would without a doubt have a scan. It just put me off having extra scans at a private place!!

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