One of the most precious moments of being pregnant is attending your prenatal scans. Although they are functional, the best part is simply being able to see your baby for the first time.
The Early Scan
An early scan is not usually offered to parents, unless there is an issue or you have had fertility treatment to achieve the pregnancy. If you cannot wait for the first free scan (offered at around 12 weeks), there are places such as Ultrasound Direct where you can pay to have various babybond scans conducted.
With Squidgy we were referred to a clinic that provided us with the support and treatment to be able to have our first rainbow baby. Due to the treatment, there was a chance that it could have been a multiple pregnancy, so we were sent for a scan at 7 weeks. As you can see she is the little blob between the two +s. The second blob above her is the yolk sac. Just to treat our children equally, we organised to have one for our second pregnancy despite the miracle of a natural conception. I think Pickle looks more like an alien than Squidgy did, with the yolk sac to the left of her.
The Dating Scan
The first scan that you are usually offered as part of your prenatal appointments, is between weeks 8 and 14 of your pregnancy. This is called a, "dating scan". The purpose of this scan is to use the baby's measurements to find a more accurate estimated date of delivery, or EDD. They will check how many babies you are carrying as well as the baby's (or in some cases babies') development and that the placenta is in the "right" place.
If your scan is between 11 and 14 weeks, you will also be offered a screening test for Down's Syndrome. We declined this test with both of our children, but everyone is entitled to make their own decision.
We had both of our dating scans in week 12 of my pregnancies. The first is Squidgy, who kicked a lot but was quite happy to give us a perfect, clear photo to take away. Her younger sister, however, was not so keen. Pickle constantly wriggled away causing the scan photo to be a lot less clear.
The Anomaly Scan
Once they have seen that all is well at the dating scan, you will be given an appointment for the anomaly scan. This is usually booked between weeks 18 and 21 of your pregnancy. The scan focuses on your baby's bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen. It allows the sonographer to pinpoint potential abnormalities in your baby's development. Also at this scan, if you so desire (and baby is in a "favourable" position), you will be able to find out your baby's gender.
I had both of our anomaly scans in week 20 of my pregnancies. The first is Squidgy, who decided she didn't fancy behaving this time, and kept rolling away. Her younger sister, as if to continue the trend of doing the opposite of Squidgy, lay the other way and gave us a perfect, clear photo to take home.
These scans were some of the best experiences of my life. The difference between sharing it with just my husband the first time and with him and my daughter this time was amazing. Whether the view of your baby is clear - or not -your scan photos are a beautiful keepsake to take away.
If you fancy keeping the scans somewhere to remind you of the miracle of your pregnancy, just like I do, there is a number of ways you can do so. Here are my top five favourites:
Alternatively you could order one of Charella's gorgeous pregnant lady silhouette frames. They are so unique and can even include a little quote and personalisation. Plus, they are only £8.50 plus postage.
If you want something a little more simple, I love this frame that has space for two scans and baby's first picture. I'm sure they're available elsewhere, but I think Amazon's price, of just £7.37, is great.
If your baby's first Christmas will be spent inside, make yourself a baby scan heart-shaped bauble for your Christmas tree. They are the cheapest of my favourites at just £4.99.
Finally, if you're partial to a bit of shiny new jewellery - and have a bit of expendable cash - you could order a baby scan necklace from BeachHutCharm on Etsy for £69. They will send you your scan forever saved in a sterling silver charm.
Please Note: It is important to remember, not everyone has the happy experience that my husband and I were blessed with at our scans. Some people will have to face the reality of a less than 100% healthy baby. Others may not even make it to their second scan. Amongst those who are aware they are pregnant, it's estimated that one in six will miscarry.1 A greater number of babies are lost before the mum is even aware of the pregnancy. I have suffered two losses during the first trimester; and it is not easy. It is imperative to remember that you are not alone and you do not have to face it alone. The Miscarriage Association, NCT, Netmums and so many other places offer advice and support for those who have gone through the painful experience of the loss of a baby during pregnancy.