Private scans: Are they worth it?

I want to start this post by saying that I’m (sadly) aware we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and that for so many reasons, private scans might not be accessible to everyone, however when I was looking to book one with Ruben I was desperate to know – are private pregnancy scans worth it? So this is me responding to that. 

I’m a very anxious bean, and even more so during pregnancy, which is understandable considering our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. So waiting until 12 weeks (when I tend to know I’m pregnant V early as all three times we have been trying and tracking) can feel like torture. That’s why, with Ruben and Baby 2 we have booked an early baby scan, as early as possible, to check all is okay with our little beans before the big 12-week appointment. 

When can you have an early pregnancy scan?

The place I go to is called Bump of Churchtown and so I can only really speak about the experience we’ve had there, however, their early reassurance scans start at 7 weeks – 13 weeks and is really just to check that the baby is in the right place and that there is a heartbeat (and how many!). The first time we went with this baby, I wasn’t as far gone as I had thought – only by a few days but if you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ll know how much of a difference that can make with a baby. So we couldn’t see the heartbeat fully, but we could see the sac and fetal pole which was reassuring and when we came back the next week there was his little fluttering heartbeat and it was perfect!

This is what a scan looks like at around 7 weeks. It says 8 weeks at the top because that’s how far gone I thought I was

What does a baby scan look like at 7 weeks?

Honestly? A 7-week baby scan looks like a tiny smudge with a flickering bit that’s the heartbeat. But it’s your tiny smudge and it’s the most beautiful little blob you’ll ever see. It’s so funny to look at those original pictures compared to the ones we got at the gender scan because it’s not that many week between them and yet the baby has gone from that tiny blob to an actual recognisable baby. Amazing. 

When can you have an early gender scan?

We are so impatient so again, both times we have booked the earliest scan we could which is at 14 weeks. Not only did we get to find out that we’re having a little boy(!) but we also got a really detailed look at the baby. Our sonographer showed us everything from his little brain (Which looks like a butterfly at the top and is v cute), to his stomach and spine. Every place is different, but at the place we go to, you can have the sex announced to you there, or put in an envelope (in most places, the NHS won’t put it in an envelope, they will either tell you or not), however I’ve heard of some places changing the colour of the lights which is fun. 

A 13-week scan – looking so much more like a baby now!

How is a private scan different to an NHS scan?

I’m in a lot of baby groups where people are really disappointed with their NHS scan experience and that’s no negative reflection on the sonographers who do those scans, it’s just that they are there to do a job, and for a purpose. They have specific things they need to measure and check out with your baby and the focus is on the wellbeing. They haven’t got the time to spend with every pregnant person, going over all the cute bits and letting you bond with your baby. With a private scan, you’re paying for the time, and it’s all about getting to see your baby, whether that’s for reassurance, to find out the sex or to bond with them. I’d definitely say you should never substitute your NHS scans with private scans, as although they can diagnose any issues, that’s not what they are specifically looking for, so it’s important to still go to your dedicated NHS scans. 

Who will perform the private scan?

I know at the place I go to, it’s a trained sonographer who used to work for the NHS. I would presume (and hope!) that anyone who does this kind of scan are trained sonographers – it’s not the kind of things where you can just buy a very expensive piece of equipment and crack on. 

How much does a private scan cost?

This completely depends, and I’ve seen a huge range of costs. I know that the place we go, Bump of Churchtown charges £50 for scans up to 13 weeks, and £60 for scans between 14-42 weeks. There are different costs for 4D scans too. We got a little sneaky peak at what a 4D scan would look like on our gender scan – why is it that anyone elses’ 4D scan looks like lasagne but when it’s your baby it’s the best, coolest thing ever?

A 4D scan at 13 weeks.

What happens if there is something wrong?

None of us want to think about this, but sadly it can be the case. If the sonographer finds anything to be worried about, you should book in with your midwife, or the hospital. Remember that these scans are mainly for bonding and entertainment, not for diagnosing, but sometimes things will be spotted. 

As soon as we’ve had that first reassurance scan, I feel so much happier and more relaxed. I don’t like to use at-home dopplers because A) I know I would be too obsessed with checking all the time, and B) I know that they can create false reassurance, so for me, the only way to check that the baby is okay before they start kicking properly, is having one of these scans. I always feel like I don’t believe the (many, many!) tests I’ve taken, until I see that tiny heartbeat on the screen. Whenever we’ve been, our Sonographer has been so patient and reassuring, but very matter-of-fact. She has explained anything we have had questions about and really taken her time to show us all the bits and bobs that make up our baby. 

So I would say that if you’re an anxious bean like me, and you have the means to do so, an early scan is a great idea to put your mind at rest and allow you to really enjoy the scan experience that can often be a little more rushed and (understandably) clinical at the hospital. 

Have you had a private scan? Would you?

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