What happens at an Early Viability Scan?

Pregnancy is an incredible journey filled with excitement, joy and sometimes a touch of anxiety. We understand that every stage can come with questions and concerns.

At Ultrasound Direct we want you to know that you're not alone and that our team of friendly experts will support you every step of the way.

One of the first private scans that you might choose to have in your pregnancy is the Early Viability Scan. This is available at 6 to 8 weeks gestation. The first routine scan you’ll have through the NHS is at 12 weeks.

Some expectant parents choose to have a private scan earlier in their pregnancy to get reassurance that the pregnancy is continuing – and to get a first glimpse of baby at the earliest possible stage.

We've created this guide to help you prepare for your early pregnancy scan.

What is an Early Viability Scan?

An early pregnancy scan is designed to check that your pregnancy is progressing normally as early as possible. The scan takes place from when you are between 6 and 9 weeks pregnant.  The embryo is very small and changing a lot during this time.

Your sonographer will check:

  • that there are visible pulsations showing the heartbeat

  • the baby’s measurements to see if it is developing at the expected rate

  • the embryo’s position to make sure it is not in the fallopian tubes

  • whether you’re having one baby or a multiple pregnancy

What happens at an early pregnancy scan?

When you arrive at a clinic you’ll be greeted by the team. The sonographer will take you into the scan room and make sure you understand everything about your scan. You’ll be asked to lie back on the ultrasound table.

We understand that this is a special time for you, and we want to make sure that you have the best possible experience. That's why Ultrasound Direct offers a 20-minute appointment with our expert sonographer, which is longer than many other providers. This gives us plenty of time to scan you, talk about your pregnancy and support you no matter the outcome of your scan.

The sonographer will first perform an external scan. Gel will be applied to your abdomen and an ultrasound probe will be pressed against the area and moved around. The gel makes sure there is no air between the probe and your skin, so the ultrasound waves can travel easily and form the clearest possible picture.

To get the best results your sonographer might suggest a transvaginal scan. This involves inserting an ultrasound probe into the vagina. This is often the best way to get a clear view of an embryo during the earliest stages of pregnancy.

The sonographer will explain exactly what will happen and obtain your consent before performing a transvaginal scan. This type of scan might be uncomfortable, but won’t hurt, and all forms of ultrasound are safe for baby.


At this stage, if your pregnancy is continuing as expected, you will see the fluttering heartbeat of your baby. Definitely a heartwarming moment seeing your baby for the first time!

The sonographer will guide you through the scan, point out the features you can see on the screen and ensure you understand everything about your pregnancy. At the end of your scan the sonographer will write a report with all their findings and answer any questions you have.

How will I get my report?

You will receive your report with your digital images. Ultrasound Direct sends a text with a link to view and download your images, so there is no need to download an app. The report will include fetal measurements, gestational age of the pregnancy and confirmation of viability. You’ll also receive 4 printed black and white images.

Can I bring guests to my early pregnancy scan?

We know how important it is to have support during this time. You can bring up to 5 guests to most early pregnancy scans at Ultrasound Direct. Make sure you check the clinic page for the clinic you plan to visit so you can check the guest policy. As this is an early pregnancy scan, we recommend you do not bring children.

How can I prepare for the scan?

 To ensure the scan is as accurate as possible, please come with a full bladder. We recommend you drink one litre of clear fluid about one hour before your Early Viability Scan. We also suggest you wear something comfortable that allows access to your abdomen such as a top and trousers, or a top and a skirt.

What happens if the scan cannot be successfully completed?

Sometimes we can’t get a clear ultrasound image. This can be due to several reasons, such as your baby being in a difficult position, or overlying bowel gas. If this happens, we’ll book you a free of charge rescan so we can try again!

 At Ultrasound Direct, the most important thing to us is that you feel comfortable and informed during your scan.  We hope this guide has helped you understand what to expect from an Early Viability Scan. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions during your appointment. Our team is here to support you every step of the way and give the best possible scan experience.