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10 Week Ultrasound

The first trimester ultrasound is often offered to parents between 11 and 13 weeks to measure the baby and ensure that everything is progressing as it should in the pregnancy. However, some parents choose to have earlier ultrasounds at around 10 weeks to ensure that the pregnancy is viable and healthy and to rule out dangerous complications.

An ultrasound at 10 weeks pregnant will often consist of a probe being moved over the abdomen to see the baby through sound wave technology. However, some pregnancies that are developing a little slower than normal might need a transvaginal ultrasound to get a better view of the baby.

How do 10 week ultrasounds work?

An ultrasound is completed with a transducer or probe being moved across the lower stomach where the baby will be located. A thin layer of water-based gel is put on your stomach beforehand to ensure a better connection between the probe and your skin, helping to get the best view of your baby possible.

Once the transducer is on your skin, it’ll send a series of high frequency sound waves through your body. This is not considered dangerous to you or the baby, and you won’t be able to hear the sound waves. The sound waves are made from electrical currents and will stop whenever they hit something in your body.

Once they’ve bounced back to the transducer, the probe then converts them back to electrical signals and sends them to the computer. This translates a pattern of electrical currents and creates real-time images with them, which will be projected onto the computer screen. You and your sonographer can then see your baby.

Why might you need a 10 week ultrasound?

The most common gestational age for the first ultrasound is 12 weeks, but some choose to have it a little earlier at 10 weeks. You might be recommended this by your doctor for a number of reasons, including:

  • To check how many babies are viable in your pregnancy

  • To work out the gestational age of your pregnancy

  • To confirm that there’s a heartbeat

  • To measure the foetal pole to make sure the baby is growing as it should be

  • To determine how your body is reacting to the pregnancy

  • To see if there’s an explanation for spotting or bleeding in pregnancy

Even if your doctor doesn’t refer you for an early scan at 10 weeks, you have the opportunity to go to a private clinic for a dating scan. This is done by a professional sonographer and will help you get answers to whether your pregnancy is viable and healthy before your official first scan.

    How to prepare for your 10 week ultrasound

    The hospital you’re booked into for your early scan will be able to tell you the specifics of how you can prepare for your scan, as every hospital has slightly different policies. There are generally no extreme preparation measures needed from you, so you can often turn up and have the scan no matter what.

    However, some sonographers ask you to drink a litre of water before your appointment to make sure you arrive with a full bladder. As your baby is still quite small at 10 weeks, a full bladder will help the ultrasound technician see the baby more clearly.

    Unless specified otherwise, you should be able to bring a support person with you if you wish. They will sit in the room with you and be able to see the baby on the screen, too. However, children tend to be discouraged to avoid distracting the sonographer.

    It’s best to wear something comfortable and stretchy to make sure you can easily lift your clothing to let the sonographer get to your stomach. Make sure your clothing isn’t too tight, either, as this might be difficult to pull down to perform the scan.

    What to expect from your 10 week ultrasound

    During the scan

    Most 10 week scans are transabdominal as the baby tends to be large enough to see through the abdomen. However, in some cases where your baby is in an odd position, your sonographer will ask to perform a transvaginal scan. The only difference here is where the probe is used, making the preparation and process relatively the same.

    The ultrasound office is often already darkened, so walking in there might be slightly disorienting. Once you’re in with the door closed, you’ll be asked to lie down on the table, and your support person will sit in the chair near you.

    The sonographer will ask you to pull down your waistband so they can tuck a piece of paper within it. You might also need to lift your top slightly to gain better access. This is to protect your clothing and prevent it from getting in the technician’s way.

    There will be a small amount of water-based gel put on your stomach before the probe is introduced, and will be pushed into your stomach at all angles as the sonographer locates the baby. A small number of patients find this uncomfortable, so tell your sonographer if you feel pain with the pressure so they can ease up.

    Once the baby is located the sonographer will check the baby’s heartbeat, measurements, and gestational age. You will often be able to see the baby as well, although they might keep the screen pointed away from you for the first half of the scan while they’re completing the most vital checks. They might also show you the heartbeat so you can hear it for the first time, too.

    An ultrasound often takes no longer than 30 minutes, but it might be slightly longer if your baby is measuring small and is more difficult to locate due to its age.

    After the scan

    After your sonographer has taken all the measurements needed and requested by your doctor, you’ll be given a paper towel to wipe the gel off your stomach and you can fix your clothing. You can then stand from the table and your technician might give you some printed pictures to take home with you.

    Most sonographers won’t discuss their findings with you during the scan as the information will be given to your doctor before they relay it to you. The majority of hospitals will schedule your appointment with your doctor straight after the ultrasound so you don’t have to wait too long for your results.

    Alternatively, if your obstetrician is the one doing your ultrasound, they’ll often talk to you through the process and their findings during the appointment, giving you the answers even quicker.

    What are the benefits of 10 week ultrasounds?

    10 weeks pregnancy scans can be very reassuring to women who don’t want to wait to make sure their pregnancy is viable and healthy until the first trimester ultrasound. It is generally considered a safe gestational age to have a dating scan as the accuracy should be higher than a seven week scan.

    There are several other benefits to having a dating scan at 10 weeks:

    • The scan can show you that both parent and baby are processing healthily to put your mind at rest

    • The early scan can help you figure out when the date of conception was, which is very helpful for women with irregular periods

    • The ultrasound is a safe and non-invasive test to make sure your baby is healthy throughout the entire period

    • Early scans can rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy and lessen the risks of one


    What can I expect to see at 10 week ultrasound?

    At 10 weeks your baby’s eyes are fully formed and they can distinguish between light and darkness. Their fingers and toes are fully developed and their bones are beginning to harden. This means that they’re beginning to look a little more like a baby, and you should be able to distinguish their heads from their bodies, and see their tiny hands and legs.

    Can you see gender at 10 weeks?

    No, you cannot see gender at 10 weeks. Some believe that the earliest you can determine gender is at 11 weeks with the nub theory, although the accuracy of this is only around 70 percent. The majority of sonographers will only determine the sex of a baby nearer to 20 weeks, as the accuracy is much higher and there’s less risk of you being told the incorrect gender.

    Is it worth having a 10 week scan?

    Many parents believe it’s worth having the 10 week scan for their peace of mind. However, it’s not necessary as you’ll be offered the official first trimester scan at 11 to 13 weeks which will give you all of the same results. So, the choice of whether to have the early scan is completely up to you unless your doctor has cause for concern. Spotting and bleeding before the 12 week scan is an example of why you might be referred to the early scan by your doctor. Otherwise, it’s simply to date the pregnancy and put your mind at ease.