Pregnancy Ultrasound

Pregnancy (Obstetric) ultrasound examinations are carried out by a trained sonographer using an ultrasound machine. Sophisticated computer software and high frequency sound waves are used to gain an image by bouncing the waves into your body and back to the transducer held by the sonographer.

Is it safe?

Diagnostic ultrasound has been used for over 30 years.  Current scientific thinking indicates that there is no discernible detrimental effect on pregnant women or their babies. The potential benefits gained far out-weigh any possible risk.

How much does it cost ?

The Ministry of Health provides some funding for pregnancy ultrasound scans for those women meeting the criteria.  This funding does not cover the full cost of providing the ultrasound. First trimester (0-13 weeks) scans are fully funded with the exception being a Nuchal Translucency scan (Nuchal), which does incur a co-payment of $45.00.  A co-payment of $45.00 is applied to no more than three scans, per pregnancy. 

Why have a pregnancy ultrasound?

The most common reason to have ultrasound in early pregnancy is to ascertain the gestation (age) of the baby and to confirm its well-being (viability). In mid pregnancy ultrasound is used to visualize basic anatomical features of the baby. In late pregnancy the most common reason to have an ultrasound scan is to check foetal (baby) growth and well-being, or to check the position of the baby and the placenta prior to delivery.

The scan can take anything from 10 -30 minutes and involves lying on a couch. The transducer is gently rubbed over your skin. Warm gel is used as a coupling agent and allows the smooth transmission of the sound waves into and out of your body.

What to expect during your scan

In early pregnancy the baby is naturally very small and more difficult to visualize. The sonographer will point out to you as many features as they are able to as they scan you and your baby.  If at any point your full bladder is VERY uncomfortable don’t hesitate to tell the sonographer as it may be appropriate for you to relieve some of the pressure in your bladder without compromising the success of the scan.

Following your scan

After the examination you will be able to empty your bladder. At the end of the scan the images are saved and then viewed by a Radiologist. After making payment at reception you will (in most instances) be provided with a CD containing your scan images. This CD is for your records.  A report will be sent to the clinican that referred you for your scan. This normally occurs within 24 hours but it is often sooner, dependent upon how the referrer prefers to receive their reports.

However if your scan was done urgently a radiologist can make contact directly with the person that referred you to pass on a preliminary report of the findings.


Pregnancy Ultrasound available from these locations: