How Many Scans Are Safe During Pregnancy?

How Many Scans Are Safe During Pregnancy?

A scan is done using ultrasound equipment which displays the images of internal of the body system by the use of high-frequency sound waves. Ultrasounds scans are a thing to look forward to especially for expectant women since they anticipate the need to know the existence of their fetus and in the right development status due to this reason, one may wonder how many scans are safe during pregnancy.

How Many Scans are Safe During Pregnancy?

Based on the studies by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), an expectant woman is recommended to have between one to two scans especially for those who have low risk pregnancy.

At 12 weeks to 18 weeks, ACOG has from its studies advocated for a maximum of 2 scans to help in knowing if the fetus is still growing as expected without any complications between the twelfth and the eighteenth weeks of the pregnancy. These scans which are deemed safe and mandatory are the ones for

  • Screening the health of the baby
  • Examining the anatomy of the baby

It is highlyrecommended for an expectant woman to stick to the advocated scans which should not at all exceed two unless the doctors see fit for the same and can be done without any safety risks to both the fetus and the expectant.

Studies suggest that when sonographers conduct this procedure by sticking to the laid down and proper guidelines the scans are totally safe and harmless. Apparently, the heat emitted during ultrasound scans is too minimal to lead any noteworthy harm. The technicians put up measures to ensure that the heat that is emitted does not build up.

Though there is no evidence that can be used to support the claim that any of the scans are ever harmful, if done appropriately. The sonographer always has to follow all the stipulated procedures when carrying out any scan as to ensure that both the expectant mother and the unborn baby are not at a risk.

The frequency or length of the waves depend on how far placed the particular pregnancy is and the type of scan being done. The study so far done has not established any evidence which can link the weight of the baby at birth, cancers that affect the babies in their childhood, dyslexia or conditions that affect the eyes or the ears with the ultrasound scans performed during the pregnancy. The idea that almost all expectant women have to have the scans performed on them is a complete assurance that the scans are safe.

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List of Scans During Pregnancy

Viability Scan – It is an ultrasound scan that is done in the early days of the pregnancy. The scan helps to affirm that a woman is pregnant, calculate the expected day of giving birth and check whether the fetus and the mother are in perfect health condition.

Nuchal Scan – Refers to the usual routine of scans that have to be followed for a period of 12 weeks. It is mainly for checking the baby’s growth and development. The scan can be used to assess the possibilities of Down’s, Patau’s and Edward’s conditions and examine for sure problems that may affect the well-being of the fetus.

Reassurance Scan – It is an additional scan to examine the baby’s health if the expectant mother is having a bout of anxiety or they are faced with a high risk pregnancy. The scan is highly advocated for if the mother has bleeding or any other pregnancy related issues.

Sexing Scan – On top of the above-mentioned scans, this scan is for finding out if the fetus is either a boy or a girl, before the next scheduled usual scan.

Anomaly Scan – The scan examines the baby health while at the same time checking the heart, brain, spine, bowel, limbs and all the other organs and if they have any abnormalities in their growth. The scan can also assist in checking for any problems which affect the placenta, umbilical cord or amniotic fluid. The sex of the baby can be revealed to the expectant mother during this stage if they have not yet found out.

Cervical Scan – This is an extra transvaginal ultrasound scan which examines the length of the expectant’s mother cervix to determine if they have the probability to give birth at an earlier date than expected.

Wellbeing Scan – This is an additional ultrasound scan which checks on the baby’s development before it is born.

Standard Ultrasound Scan – Refers to the ultrasound that is mainly carried out during any pregnancy. The doctor has a transducer that he or she uses to rub on the stomach of the expectant mother together with a conductive gel. From this, the mother gets to see the shape of the baby in two dimensions. This type of ultrasound will give the expectant mother the plan on whether they need some other advanced scans.

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Transvaginal Scan – This scan is performed in the first 10 weeks of the pregnancy to examine if the amniotic sac is fully planted in the right place and whether the pregnancy is viable or not. The obstetrician uses the transducer through the Vagina to perform this scan. The scan is a bit uncomfortable but produces very good results.

Fetal Echocardiography – This type of ultrasound scan is for evaluating the possibility of the occurrence of complications during the different development stages of pregnancy. The obstetrician may request an echocardiogram if he or she suspects that there are cardiac complications or if they suspect something funny on the standard ultrasound. It is a scan that can be performed both vaginally and through the abdomen.

3D Ultrasound – Refers to the 3D ultrasound scan that uses some unique software that helps to get the full image of the baby using the transducer to take pictures from a number of different dimensions which are then transmitted to the monitor of a computer to form a crystal clear image.

4D Ultrasound – The 4D ultrasound scan allows the expectant mother to get the full and actual image of their baby. They also have the opportunity to see the actions of the fetus in the uterus more clearly. Though they get to see the baby’s image, this scan does not avail the diagnostic benefits as those of the standard ultrasound scan or 3D scan.

Doppler Ultrasound – A Doppler is an ultrasound scan that gives the obstetrician an opportunity to examine the flow pattern of the blood of the expectant mother through their veins and arteries. An obstetrician can recommend it to check if the supply of the blood to the baby is correct and is as required.


Having a scan can give a lot of information to the expectant mothers about the growing fetus. For the first time mothers, it’s wise to know how many scans are safe during pregnancy before going forth to get a lot scan. Any expectant mother should know that multiple ultrasounds during pregnancy is unlikely to cause harm to the developing fetus.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad