Hospital Visits & Ultrasounds
The first time you will need to attend the hospital is for your dating scan and booking visit, which usually takes place between 12 and 16 weeks gestation.
You may have had your dating scan prior to your booking appointment or alternatively your dating scan will be performed at the booking visit. During your booking visit you will have a consultation with a midwife who will document your medical history and perform any outstanding blood tests.
If you have any concerns prior to your booking visit it is advisable to see your GP and they will decide if you need further medical attention.
An ultrasound scan is a useful tool in confirming a pregnancy and should only be performed by a trained sonographer. This scan usually takes place between 11-13 weeks of pregnancy and is arranged by your GP once your pregnancy test is confirmed. This is called a dating scan. However, if you have any concerns it is advisable to discuss these with your GP.
There are some instances where it may be necessary to perform an ultrasound scan at an earlier stage, for example, if there is a previous history of ectopic pregnancy, recurrent miscarriage or a medical indication. It is important to remember that even in these cases, it may not be possible to make a definitive diagnosis of an on-going normal pregnancy, or a pregnancy of concern, due to the early gestation of the pregnancy. A developing embryo grows so slowly that a further time period, about 7-10 days, is needed to see any changes taking place in the pregnancy sac. Ultrasound scans are repeated in this way to safeguard an ongoing early pregnancy from being incorrectly labelled as a miscarriage.
The above table was taken from the Royal College of Physicians Ireland (RCPI) and Health Service Executive (HSE) Clinical Practice Guidelines. The purpose of this information is to highlight how small a pregnancy is during these 12 weeks i.e. first trimester.