The 3-month scan is one of the most iconic moments in a woman’s pregnancy. It will give you the first official peek at the tiny, little person who is fast becoming your whole world. Every mum-to-be knows that it’s a big deal, but we don’t always know what to expect, so here’s a checklist of what’s coming your way for your first scan.
How do you get yourself prepped?
Scans offered under the Irish public health system are usually offered around the 12-20-week mark. The good news is that mums don’t need to prepare much for this scan. You might however be asked to drink plenty of fluids as a full bladder can help make it easier to see the baby, as it pushes the womb further out. When you’re ready you’ll be brought into the room with the sonographer and asked to lie back on the bed. Your belly will be covered in a cool jelly-like substance that helps the transducer to connect more closely with your skin.
How does it all work?
We agree that the whole experience can feel a little extra-terrestrial, but what exactly is happening and how does this contraption work? The machinery uses high-frequency sound waves that travel through the belly using the transducer. The echoes that are transmitted into the abdomen and towards your little blossoming bundle inside are then recorded and transposed into a photograph or video. There are also businesses with special 3D screens that allow you to see your little bundle in HD.
What’s going on in there?
The main purpose of the scan is to see that your baby is developing healthily, so this means that the doctors and midwives will be looking for out for a whole list of things:
Experts will be looking for a healthy; head, brain, heart, abdomen, stomach, kidneys, umbilical cord, bladder, spine and nuchal translucency (this is a fluid at the back of the neck and is tested as an early indicator of chromosomal abnormality).
The test also lets mums know exactly how many little seats they’ll be adding to the dinner table and whether twins are on the cards! Most importantly of all, they’ll check if your little baby’s heartbeat is beating strongly.
When is the next scan?
Normally, in Ireland, women under the public health system will be offered 2 scans during their pregnancy. Additional scans are usually only necessary if there are any issues that the medical professionals would like to keep an eye on. After you’ve had your first introduction to baby at 12 weeks, the second scan usually takes place around the 20-week mark. Since your baby is far more developed at this stage, the 20-week scan will examine your baby’s anatomy and is known as the foetal anatomy scan. The scan helps you to confirm the due-date and of course the sex of the baby. You can choose to discover the sex of the baby or keep it as a surprise for the big day. The perks of finding out the gender of the baby are obviously that you get to pre-plan bits and pieces and settle on a name, but whatever you choose, nothing will take from the excitement of finally seeing your baby on the day.
These 9 months are filled with so many amazing milestones and exciting ‘firsts’, but they can sometimes be as daunting as they are exciting. Try to take everything in your stride, arm yourself with the right information and enjoy every magical second of it.