There are many different ultrasound scan packages available to pregnant women nowadays, and this variety can sometimes cause confusion. Every scan is of course different, but above all else, it’s important to understand the distinction between elective ultrasound scans and medical ultrasound scans.
What is the difference between medical and elective scans?
Simply put, a medical ultrasound scan is one that’s ordered by a doctor/midwife, while an elective ultrasound scan is one that you choose to undergo yourself. Medical scans are generally available for free on the NHS, whereas elective (or ‘keepsake’) scans will be delivered by private companies who charge a fee for the services they provide.
Most women in the UK undergo two medical ultrasound scans as standard over the course of a pregnancy; these scans are intended to track the baby’s growth/development, calculate a due date, and identify any anomalies that may be present.
In addition to these two scans, a pregnant woman may choose to undergo one or more elective ultrasound scans over the course of her pregnancy.
Why book an elective ultrasound scan?
Reasons for choosing to undergo an elective ultrasound scan vary from person to person. Here are some examples of what a keepsake scan can provide:
- High quality 3D/4D imaging. Medical scans generally result in 2D images only. Some elective ultrasound scans give the expectant parents a closer, more detailed look at their unborn child - some of our customers are even treated to the sigh of their baby-to-be smiling and waving!
- Early gender confirmation. While medical scans can provide gender confirmation (i.e. whether your baby will be a boy or a girl), many elective scan providers allow their customers to discover this information several weeks earlier. Our gender scans start at 16 weeks.
- Additional information. Attending an elective ultrasound session in addition to your NHS scans will allow you to track your baby’s growth over a longer timeframe. We may also spot problems/anomalies that develop after you’ve been to the hospital.
- Keepsakes and souvenirs. Most elective scan providers offer a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs, which can be taken home after the scan and shared with family and friends. Common examples include glossy photographs, DVD recordings, key rings, and fridge magnets; we at First Encounters also offer the ever-popular Heartbeat Bear!
An elective ultrasound scan should NEVER be used as a substitute for a medical scan. Instead, elective scans are intended to complement the scans provided by the NHS, giving you an enjoyable experience and allowing you to feel that much closer to your unborn child.