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Dating Scan / 12 Week Scan: What should you expect?

February 01, 2024, 15:02 Anatomy Scan, Ultrasound

At 12 weeks, the countdown to meeting your little one officially begins!

This important prenatal scan marks your first chance to peek into their tiny world, revealing exciting details and addressing any early concerns.

In this article, we'll explain what the scan is, why you might choose to get one, and what to expect during the procedure. It's an exciting time, and the more you know, the more empowered you become to make the right decisions for you and your growing family.

If you are ready to schedule your dating scan, book online today. And please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. We're here to help.

What Is a Dating Scan?

A dating ultrasound is usually conducted between 10 and 15 weeks of pregnancy. It's an ultrasound examination that determines the gestational age of your baby.

By measuring your baby's size, our specialist sonographers estimate your due date, also known as the Estimated Date of Delivery (EDD). This scan is crucial for planning upcoming tests and scans throughout your pregnancy journey.

What You Need to Know About the Dating Ultrasound Procedure 

The scan is a safe and non-invasive procedure. Our compassionate team will always ensure your comfort.

To prepare, you may be advised to have a full bladder to enhance the visibility of the ultrasound. 

The ultrasound technician will apply a gel on your abdomen and use a small device called a transducer to scan your belly. You might feel slight pressure, but there should be no pain. If you feel any discomfort, let your technician know immediately.

The process usually takes around 20 minutes, during which the sonographer will measure your baby and examine their development.

Is a Dating Scan Compulsory?

When you start your pregnancy journey, you will encounter several choices regarding prenatal testing. One common question is whether a dating scan is compulsory.

The simple answer is no; it's not a mandatory procedure. The decision to undergo a dating scan rests entirely with you. This scan is offered as a part of standard prenatal care to provide valuable information about your pregnancy, but it's ultimately your choice to accept or decline it.

We encourage open discussions with your healthcare provider to understand the benefits and make an informed decision that aligns with your comfort and needs.

What Are the Risks?

Ultrasound scans—including the dating scan—are widely regarded as safe for both mother and baby. They use sound waves to create an image and do not involve radiation, making them a non-invasive and low-risk procedure.

When to Get Your Dating Scan

The timing of your 12-week scan is key. Generally, the ideal window is between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. This timeframe allows for clear visibility and accuracy in measuring your baby's development.

Scheduling your scan within this period ensures you receive the most reliable EDD, which is crucial for planning future prenatal tests and understanding the stages of foetal development.

If you have irregular menstrual cycles or are unsure about the date of your last period, an early dating scan can be particularly helpful in determining your pregnancy timeline.

What You Will Learn During the 12-Week Ultrasound

This ultrasound is not just about determining the due date; it's also an opportunity to check for multiple pregnancies and significant foetal anomalies.

Our experts assess the baby's heartbeat and development pace. They also check for conditions like Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome, and Patau's syndrome through the combined test, which includes a blood test and nuchal translucency measurement.

Interpreting the Results

The results from your dating scan will provide a more accurate due date than estimations based on your menstrual cycle. This accuracy is vital for managing your pregnancy, especially if there are concerns about premature birth or overdue delivery.

Post-Scan Considerations

After your 12-week scan, you can return to your usual activities. The sonographer or your doctor may discuss the findings with you and advise on any additional steps or follow-up scans, especially if potential health concerns are identified.


Can the 12-week ultrasound show the gender of my baby?

At 12 weeks, it's usually too early to determine the baby's gender with certainty. The primary focus of the dating scan is to assess the baby's development and estimate your due date. Gender identification is more likely during the fetal well being scan, typically around 16 to 18 weeks.

Should I prepare anything for my dating scan?

To enhance the clarity of the ultrasound image, you might want to have a full bladder during the scan. Drinking a few glasses of water an hour before your appointment can help with this. Otherwise, no special preparation is needed.

Will I receive images of my baby?

Yes, after the scan, you will typically be given images of your baby. These first pictures are a wonderful keepsake and provide a tangible connection to the life developing inside you.

Is the 12-week scan painful?

It's natural to have concerns about any medical procedure, especially during pregnancy. Rest assured, the 12-week scan is a painless process. 

How accurate is the dating scan in predicting the due date?

The dating scan is the most accurate way to predict your due date, especially when done between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. While it provides an EDD, it's important to remember that only about 5% of babies are born on their exact due date. This scan gives a more accurate timeline compared to date calculations based on menstrual cycles, especially if your periods are irregular.

Schedule Your 12-Week Scan Today

The 12-week scan is a fundamental part of your pregnancy journey, offering crucial insights into your baby's development and health.

At Harley Street Ultrasound, we are committed to providing a supportive, informative, and compassionate experience during this significant moment in your pregnancy. Schedule your appointment today.


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At the HSUG, our specialist team delivers private ultrasound scans designed to give you the insight and peace of mind you need. We are the experts when it comes to ultrasonic diagnosis and treatment, and we have a strong track record of providing reassurance to our patients when they need it most.

You’ll find us on Harley Street in London — a convenient location with a rich history of medical excellence. Our team is committed to continuing that history with our own set of expert services.

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