Early Ultrasound



Some practitioners routinely recommend an ultrasound at about 7 to 11 weeks, but others will only do one if they have reason to suspect any of the following:

Miscarriage

If you have vaginal bleeding early in your pregnancy, your practitioner may be concerned about miscarriage and want to schedule an ultrasound to check on your baby. The baby's heartbeat should be clearly visible by 6 ½ weeks of pregnancy (assuming a 28-day menstrual cycle). If you can see the baby's heart beating on the sonogram after 7 weeks, your chances of continuing with the pregnancy are greater than 97 percent. If you don't see the heart beating at this point, don't despair yet. It may be that your cycle is longer than average and your baby is younger than your practitioner figured. In this case you might be asked to come back in 1 -2 weeks to confirm the diagnosis / viability.

Ectopic or molar pregnancy

Vaginal bleeding (as well as other symptoms) can also indicate an ectopic or molar pregnancy. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the embryo is not in the uterus, your practitioner will try to determine where the embryo is. In a molar pregnancy, in which there is an abnormal placenta and no viable baby, the ultrasound may show what appears to be a cluster of grapes where the baby should be.

Uncertain gestational age

If you're unsure of the date you started your last menstrual period or the length of your cycle, your practitioner may suggest an ultrasound at 7 weeks in order to see how far along you really are. Since all fetuses are about the same size in their early weeks, your practitioner can usually determine your baby's gestational age (and thus your approximate due date) by taking certain measurements. When you're between 7 and 13 weeks, measuring from the crown of the baby's head to his rump will allow the practitioner to determine the baby's age within 3 or 4 days.

Multiple gestation

If you're measuring large (or if you've undergone infertility treatments) you may be carrying twins or higher multiples and your practitioner will order an ultrasound to see how many embryos have implanted.