An ultrasound scan is a medical procedure that’s used to examine unborn babies while they’re still in the womb.

Ultrasound can also be used to diagnose a range of health conditions and to guide surgeons during certain procedures.


How do ultrasound scans work?

Ultrasound scans work by bouncing high-frequency sound waves off part of the body to create a moving image.


How does ultrasound produce images?

During an ultrasound scan, images are produced by the sound waves as they reflect off the area of the body being scanned.

For example, in a pregnancy scan, the waves from the probe bounce off the baby and back again like an echo. These echoes are detected by the computer, which translates them into a live image.


Types of ultrasound scan

There are three main types of ultrasound scan:

  • EXTERNAL – The ultrasound probe is placed on the skin. This is the type of scan commonly performed during pregnancy, and it’s the type we offer here at First Encounters.

  • INTERNAL– The ultrasound probe is inserted into the body, typically through the vagina or rectum.

  • ENDOSCOPIC – A thin tube (called an ‘endoscope’) with a light and ultrasound device is inserted via the mouth.


Ultrasound scans during pregnancy

During your pregnancy, you will attend various medical check-ups, including at least two ultrasound scans (also known as sonograms).

On the day of your scan, the sonographer will use an external ultrasound probe to scan your tummy. A lubricating gel will be applied to help the probe glide smoothly over your skin while maintaining contact. The probe gives off sound waves, which produce a moving image of what’s happening inside your womb. This will be displayed on a monitor so that you (and any guests presents) can say hello to your unborn baby.

When you visit the First Encounters ultrasound clinic, we can capture still images – and, in some cases, video clips – from your scan and turn them into wonderful keepsakes and gifts.

Baby Scan Gifts & Souvenirs


What’s the difference between a sonogram and an ultrasound scan?

When talking about pregnancy scans, the words ‘sonogram’ and ‘ultrasound’ tend to be used interchangeably. Both words refer to the same thing: a pregnancy scan where ultrasound is used to view the unborn baby.

You may find that different sources prefer one word over the other – the word ‘sonogram’ is commonly used in the USA, whereas ‘ultrasound’ is often preferred in the UK.


How many ultrasound scans will I have during my pregnancy?

How many ultrasounds you have during a pregnancy will depend on the circumstances. The NHS offers two ultrasound scans as a minimum: one at 11 – 14 weeks, and another at 18 – 21 weeks.

For high-risk pregnancies, additional scans may be recommended in order to track the mother and baby’s progress more closely.

If you’re keen to attend an ultrasound scan as early in your pregnancy as possible, our EarlyReassure™ scan is available from just 7 weeks. All of our ultrasound scans are performed in a safe, welcoming environment by highly-trained sonographers.

Choose an Ultrasound Scan