Being pregnant in the COVID-19 pandemic

4D Baby Scan
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is still having a significant impact on all our daily lives. But slowly things are returning to normal, albeit a new normal, with increased social distancing and strict hygiene measures, compulsory mask wearing, and pop-up local lockdowns in areas where cases of Covid-19 are increasing.

The need for reassurance

The threat coronavirus poses to all of us still remains, and these can feel like especially worrying times if you are pregnant, particularly with the rules on social distancing changing at short notice in some areas. But life goes on, and around 53,000 babies are still being born every month in England with pregnant women receiving excellent antenatal care from midwives either face-to-face, by telephone, or via video calls.

Pregnant women have been classed as being in a vulnerable group at moderate risk by the Chief Medical Officer – but this is more of a precautionary measure as there’s no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill with the virus, according to advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 

Perhaps, the most reassuring news is that there’s no evidence that catching Covid-19 increases miscarriage risk and if babies do become infected with the virus from their mothers after they are born they appear to be well and they get better.

Should you have a private antenatal scan?

The NHS is continuing to provide routine midwife consultation either remotely or face to face and ultrasound scans for pregnant women, but if you would rather avoid hospital at this worrying time when services are still under pressure due to the second wave of coronavirus, or are just in need of some extra expert reassurance, it’s worth knowing all of Ultrasound Direct’s nationwide network of private ultrasound clinics are now open for business.

Ultrasound Direct have a series of strict health and safety measures in place to ensure pregnant women are at minimal risk of virus transmission on their premises. All staff and patients (and their guest) wear masks or face coverings, and there is a stringent protocol for PPE use and social distancing in waiting rooms. Safety regulations are constantly updated and available to read here.

You can also be reassured that all our specialist sonographers are highly trained and experienced in scanning pregnant women and interpreting the results, and our clinics are regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission and operate to the highest possible hygiene standards.

Another bonus is that you can book appointments directly, to suit your schedule at a location convenient for you, without the need for a referral from your GP or the NHS.

First Trimester Scans

If you are at all concerned about your pregnancy and need some reassurance in the early weeks and months, the following scans are available from Ultrasound Direct.

Early Scan: Sometimes called a viability scan this is offered from 6 weeks, and the purpose is to confirm your pregnancy. The sonographer will measure the baby to see if it fits with your dates and check for a heartbeat.

babyDATE scan: This is a 10-minute 2D scan performed between 8 and 16 weeks and the main purpose is to check your dates are correct.

Nuchal Translucency (NT) scan: This scan is offered between 11 weeks and 13 weeks 6 days, in combination with a maternal blood test. It calculates the risk of your baby having Down’s Syndrome, a chromosome disorder.

Dating Scan: These are 15-minute appointments offered between 12 and 16 weeks. The main purpose is to date your pregnancy and give an estimated delivery date.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) scan: This is a 30-minute appointment which includes a scan to check your baby’s heartbeat and growth, combined with a blood test which analyses foetal DNA in your blood. The test results can be used to calculate the probability of Down’s Syndrome, Edward’s Syndrome, and Patau’s Syndrome. It can be performed between 10 and 40 weeks.

Second Trimester Scans

Anomaly scan: Sometimes called the 20-week scan, this scan is performed between 19 and 24 weeks. It measures your baby against your dates and examines their anatomical structure, including major organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys and liver, as well as the stomach and limbs. You can also find out the sex of your baby if you choose.

Third Trimester Scans

Growth scan: These are available for monitoring your baby’s growth from 24 weeks. A sonographer uses ultrasound to measure your baby's head, abdomen and thigh bones, and then calculates their estimated birth weight. Your sonographer can compare the measurements with the average for babies of the same gestation to check your baby's growth is in the normal range and identify if there may be a problem with your baby's growth.

Presentation scan: These are done to verify fetal presentation from 37 weeks, to check if your baby is in the ‘feet-first’ breech position for instance, estimate your baby’s birth weight, or to see if you have a low-lying placenta.