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Wellbeing Scan or Fetal Growth Scan

The purpose of this scan is to check that the baby is growing well and that the pregnancy is developing normally. You may want to have this scan if your baby has been moving less, if you have had unusual tummy pains, light bleeding or if you have had some kind of accident (for example on the road or in a fall).

A Wellbeing Scan is particularly important if you have had pregnancy complications or problems in a previous pregnancy. This scan is usually only offered by the NHS if there is a complication with the pregnancy.

When is the scan performed?
The Fetal Wellbeing Scan is performed between 23 and 40 weeks of pregnancy. Some consultants advise that it is particularly useful to have such a scan at about 36 weeks.

What will I learn from the scan?
In a Wellbeing Scan, your baby’s measurements will be taken and then checked against a set of charts, to make sure growth is proceeding normally.

The growth of the baby will be assessed by measuring the head, abdomen and femur length (thigh bone). This way your doctor or sonographer can estimate the baby’s weight and give you an idea as to how big it will be at birth. The appearance and position of the placenta is also checked, and the amniotic fluid around the baby is measured.

The flow of blood through the umbilical cord is assessed using Doppler ultrasound. Your healthcare professional will look at how well the baby is moving and can tell you the sex of your baby if you wish.

Whilst Wellbeing Scans tend to give reliable reassurance as to a baby’s development, the most detailed anatomical analysis takes place in an Anomaly Scan. Therefore it is important to bear in mind that a Wellbeing Scan is not a replacement for an Anomaly Scan.

Wellbeing Scan or Fetal Growth Scan

Wellbeing Scan or Fetal Growth Scan Picture
(Click image to enlarge)

How is the scan performed and how long does it take?
The Wellbeing Scan is performed transabdominally (through the tummy) and usually takes about thirty minutes. In order to examine your baby properly, it is conducted in 2D.

Do I need to prepare for the scan?
No special preparation is required – it’s not necessary to have a full bladder.

Wellbeing Scan or Fetal Growth Scan Video
(Click image to play)

What do I get at the end of the scan (pictures/DVD)?
You will be given a few pictures of your baby to keep. Some clinics also offer you a chance to get a glimpse of your baby in 4D (moving film), but this is in addition to the Wellbeing Scan and charged accordingly.

Should I have the scan with a consultant or sonographer?
If you are experiencing a normal pregnancy, then in most cases a scan by a fully qualified, experienced sonographer is suitable. If however, you are experiencing complications with your pregnancy or need a second opinion, a scan with an obstetrics consultant is advised.

How much will it cost?
Prices usually range from about £120 to £200.

Related Resource: List of high quality private pregnancy scan clinics in the UK