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This is the first of your routine scans and despite the name, can be done between 8 and 14 weeks.
It's also known as the dating scan because one of the things it can pinpoint is your baby's exact gestation, so you'll have a better idea of your baby's estimated due date (EDD).
What happens during the scan?
Before the scan you'll be asked to drink lots of water so you have a full bladder - this puts the uterus in a better position to be scanned. This can be a tad uncomfortable, and if your scanning clinic has particularly long waiting times you may find yourself crossing your legs and trying to ignore the flushing sound from the nearby loos.
You'll be asked to lie down for the scan itself, and the sonographer will rub some sticky, clear (and cold!) jelly over your abdomen.
A hand-held gadget called a transducer is moved over your belly and bounces high-frequency sound waves around, to create a picture on the monitor. Don't worry, it's painless and won't harm you or your baby.
The clarity of the picture depends on a number of things, and it may not be immediately obvious which parts of your baby you're looking at. The sonographer will be able to help you work it out, though he or she may need to prod your belly a bit to 'encourage' the baby to position themselves for their big close-up.
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What does the scan show?
Age and size: the exact stage of pregnancy will be calculated from the measurement made from crown to rump. This will give you a more precise estimated due date.
Number of babies: are you expecting one baby, twins or <gulp> more?
Development and growth: the sonographer will check your baby's limbs and spine for any visible abnormalities. They will look at the head, limbs, feet, heartbeat and whether the major organs are developing as they should.
The health of the placenta and its position, which may have implications for later in the pregnancy.
Seeing the first picture of your baby is a great milestone, and often the moment when it all feels 'real'. Some hospitals will sell you a copy of your scan image so you can go and show everyone the very first photo of your sproglet-to-be.
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Find out what you can expect from antenatal scans
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